The Franklin boys cross-country team was able to win county, sectional and regional titles without its top runner.

Coach Adam Schwartz knows that won’t be the case at Saturday’s semistate meet in Shelbyville.

The Grizzly Cubs, ranked 20th in the most recent Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches state rankings, are just hoping to come away as one of the six teams advancing to next weekend’s state meet. With seven of the state’s top 15 teams in the field, including four of the top six, that’ll be a challenge.

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“The sectional went really well; the regional was a lot tighter,” Schwartz said. “But there’s a lot more competition come semistate.”

Franklin feels a little better about its chances knowing that senior Josh Campbell, who has been out with a stress fracture in his fibula, is expected to run.

Campbell, a senior who was third in the regional last year and narrowly missed making the state meet as an individual, has stayed in shape by training in the pool and on a stationary bike, but he hasn’t been able to get out on the course more than a handful of times, so how he’ll fare Saturday remains a mystery.

“If you’re going to be in your best shape to run, you need to run,” Campbell said, “but I don’t expect to feel like I’m not fit for it.”

With or without a big contribution from Campbell, the Grizzly Cubs expect to be competitive. They placed three runners (Andrew Bixler, Isaiah Lindsay and Wyatt McCullough) in the top nine at last week’s regional on the same Blue River Park course they’ll run Saturday.

“Wyatt McCullough has really done an excellent job of filling in that void when we needed him to,” Schwartz said. “He’s picked up a lot of slack for us.”

With two more solid finishes out of Campbell, Caleb McCort and William Tucker, they could be in the mix with Zionsville and Westfield for the sixth and final state spot.

“It’ll be close if we get through, but I think anything’s possible at this point,” McCullough said.

For his part, Campbell said he’s missed being able to compete the past few weeks, but he adds that he actually feels less pressure now than he would if he were coming into the semistate meet with a clean bill of health.

The team as a whole seems to be taking a cue from their senior standout, going into the race a little looser than they might have were the expectations from outside a bit higher.

“We’re kind of just looking to have fun with it and see what we can do out there,” McCullough said. “We don’t know how well Josh will be able to do, but we’re hoping for the best, and if we’re lucky we’ll make it out.”

If you go

Shelbyville Semistate

When: Saturday, 10:30 a.m. (boys) and 11:15 a.m. (girls)

Where: Blue River Park, Shelbyville

Admission: $5

Brown County Semistate

When: Saturday, 11:30 a.m. (boys) and 12:15 p.m. (girls)

Where: Eagle Park, Nashville

Admission: $5

Scouting the field

A look at the boys and girls fields for the Shelbyville Semistate meet Saturday:

Boys

Teams competing: Center Grove, Franklin, Whiteland, Roncalli, Avon, Brownsburg, Cambridge City Lincoln, Carmel, Cathedral, Danville, Fishers, Franklin Central, Hagerstown, New Palestine, North Central, Perry Meridian, Pike, Southport, Westfield and Zionsville

Local individuals: Brandon Albin and Ethan Pine, Greenwood

Favorites to advance (state ranking in parentheses): Carmel (1), Fishers (3), Cathedral (4), North Central (6), Avon (10), Zionsville (12)

Others to watch: Westfield (15), Franklin (20)

Outlook: Franklin has won county, sectional and regional titles without top runner Josh Campbell, who has been out with an injury. The Grizzly Cubs will need him to advance to the state meet as a team, but even if he’s not in top form they should be able to fare well and maybe get some individuals out to Terre Haute. Center Grove also has an outside shot as a team. Among the others who could earn state berths are Pine and Whiteland’s Will Jefferson.

Girls

Teams competing: Center Grove, Franklin, Avon, Brebeuf, Brownsburg, Carmel, East Central, Fishers, Franklin Central, Greenfield-Central, Greensburg, Hamilton Southeastern, New Palestine, Noblesville, Plainfield, Pike, Rushville, Southport, Warren Central and Zionsville

Local individuals: Julia Arruda, Greenwood; Taylor Leytham and Claire Overfelt, Whiteland

Favorites to advance (state ranking in parentheses): Brebeuf (2), Zionsville (3), Carmel (4), Brownsburg (6), Hamilton Southeastern (7), Fishers (8)

Others to watch: Noblesville (11), Franklin Central (13)

Outlook: It’ll be tough sledding for the locals against a loaded field that features six of the state’s top eight teams. Team advancement is probably a long shot, even for the regional champion Trojans, but a few county runners have legitimate aspirations of making the state meet as individuals. Franklin’s Lillian Lacy and Center Grove’s Nina Fujii and Victoria Martin are among the top contenders to do so.

Note: Indian Creek’s Nate Decker and Shaelyn Biddle will be competing as individuals in the boys and girls races, respectively, at the Brown County Semistate.

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.