Neither Franklin’s boys nor Center Grove’s girls had an individual challenge for the title, but each team’s whole was greater than the sum its parts and both squads pulled out close team championships at the Shelbyville cross country regional Saturday.
Franklin’s top finisher, Andrew Bixler, came in fourth at 16:39.2 in the boys race, nearly 20 seconds behind the winner. But the Grizzly Cubs placed their next four scorers in the top 30 to score 63 points and edge Center Grove by five.
“They did really well. Our one, two and three kept it close. We gave up a couple of spots late but they fought in the middle Ks,” Franklin boys coach Adam Schwartz said. “They really put themselves on the line, took a chance, and that’s really what we needed them to do today.”
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Center Grove’s girls did not place a runner in the top 10, and because of that, the team had no reason to believe that they had a chance to win the regional. But with a cluster of scorers finishing between 11th and 29th, the Trojans totaled 72 points to shock runner-up Greensburg by six.
“It’s pretty amazing. After the race I didn’t think we won, so this is a pretty big surprise,” Center Grove coach Howard Harrell said. “We had four girls make all-regional and that’s pretty amazing and our fifth girl came in real strong. We had a girl that didn’t finish last week, Stephanie Embree, and she got 16th, so that was cool.”
Whiteland’s boys team finished fourth and Franklin’s girls were fifth, punching their tickets for the Shelbyville Semistate this weekend. Greenwood’s Ethan Pine and Brandon Albin qualified as individuals on the boys side, while Greenwood’s Julia Arruda joined Whiteland’s Claire Overfelt and Taylor Leytham in advancing on the girls side.
Bixler came in fourth for Franklin and was followed by Isaiah Lacey (eighth, 16:52.8) and Wyatt McCullough (ninth, 16:53.4). William Tucker was 26th and Caleb McCort 30th.
Ethan Stanley led Center Grove with a 10th-place finish in 16:56.3. Archit Malik was 12th in 17:05.3, while Sebastian Martin was 19th, Steven Mills 20th, 17:12.7 and Nick Wilson 22nd.
Whiteland was led by Will Jefferson, who was fifth in 16:44.9. Mika Long was 17th in 17:11.4, while David Ryan was 23rd, Bailey McMahon 33rd and Riley McMahon, 40th.
Pine was sixth in 16:50.1 and Albin was 16th in 17:09.8 to earn all-regional honors for Greenwood. Greenwood Christian’s Kegan Owen placed 31st in 17:38.3.
Nina Fujii placed 11th in 20:44.4 to lead Center Grove’s girls. Victoria Martin was 13th in 20:48.2, Stephanie Embree 16th in 20:52.6 and Gabrielle Harrell 17th in 20:53.0. Julia Falcone placed 29th.
Franklin was led by Lillian Lacy, who placed fifth in 20:23.4. Emma Treibic was 25th, Caroline Selking 26th, Abby Burton 31st and Piper Reed 43rd.
Overfelt placed 15th in 20:51.9 and Leytham was 18th in 20:53.8 to lead Whiteland, while Erika Walling was 28th. Arruda was 14th in 20:48.4 to lead Greenwood.