Franklin’s Andrew Bixler and Greenwood’s Ethan Pine were the only local runners to survive a loaded semistate field and earn berths to this weekend’s IHSAA cross-country state finals in Terre Haute.
Bixler finished 20th overall on Saturday with a time of 15:56.9, while Pine was 36th in 16:19.2 to claim the final individual state berth.
Bixler’s Franklin teammates, who combined to win the regional title on the same course a week ago, placed eighth overall with 228 points, two spots and 58 points shy of advancing as a group. Center Grove was ninth with 287 points and Whiteland was 14th with 383.
No local runners on the girls side advanced, with Franklin’s Lillian Lacy coming the closest by placing 56th in 19:28.4. Franklin was 15th as a team with 413 points and Center Grove was 17th with 463.
Bixler, who earned a ribbon for his top-20 finish, said he felt fortunate to survive the fast field. Hamilton Southeastern’s Gabe Fendel shattered the course record with a time of 15:08.2.
“I was feeling pretty good for the first 3K. It was a little faster than I expected it to be, but I was fine with that,” Bixler said. “The last K I gave up some spots and I really didn’t want to, but that was my best run. I feel good about it.”
Only one other Franklin runner, Wyatt McCullough (59th in 16:35.6), finished in the top 60. Isaiah Lindsay was next for the team in 66th place with a time of 16:38.6, Joshua Campbell was 72nd in 16:44.0 and William Tucker was 84th in 16:51.6.
“We thought we could have done a little better. Some of the guys didn’t have as good of a race as they wanted,” Bixler said. “But with our team, we’re not losing too much for next year so we’re looking forward to that. We think next year will be a good year because these guys are just going to keep advancing and growing.”
Center Grove was led by Archit Malik, who was 41st in 16:22.9. Ethan Stanley was 45th in 16:26.3, Nick Wilson was 96th in 17:03.6, Steven Mills was 101st in 17:06.6 and Connor Walsh was 114th in 17:14.0.
Will Jefferson led Whiteland with a 38th-place finish in 16:21.2, missing the state meet by two spots. Mika Long was 97th in 17:04.9, Riley McMahon was 123rd in 17:22.2, David Ryan was 129th in 17:25.7 and Bailey McMahon was 144th in 17:36.1.
Greenwood’s Brandon Albin, competing as an individual, was 118th in 17:19.5.
On the girls side, Franklin jumped over regional champion Center Grove to place higher in the team standings but still missed the state finals cut by nine spots. Following Lacy, Emma Treibic was 92nd in 20:21.9, Caroline Selking was 111th in 20:43.3, Abby Burton was 128th in 21:14.2 and Piper Reed was 149th in 21:56.0 for the Grizzly Cubs.
Victoria Martin led Center Grove with an 86th-place finish in 20:16.4. Nina Fujii was 116th in 20:53.1, Gabrielle Harrell was 127th in 21:12.6, Nicole Kissler was 132nd in 21:21.2 and Julia Falcone was 140th in 21:35.9.
Greenwood’s Julia Arruda placed 96th in 20:29.0, Whiteland’s Claire Overfelt was 100th in 20:31.2 and Whiteland’s Taylor Leytham was 103rd in 20:33.0.