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Area teams ready to hit course, get running


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Greenwood junior Hunter Smith, who placed ninth at last year's sectional, is among the county's top cross country runners.
Greenwood junior Hunter Smith, who placed ninth at last year's sectional, is among the county's top cross country runners.

Center Grove senior Griffin Miller, who placed fourth at last year's sectional, is among the county's top cross country runners.
Center Grove senior Griffin Miller, who placed fourth at last year's sectional, is among the county's top cross country runners.


Johnson County was well-represented at the 2013 IHSAA Boys Cross-Country State Finals. Three local teams competed: Center Grove, Franklin and Greenwood.

Not surprisingly, all three teams are confident of another lengthy postseason run.

If numbers and experience count for anything, Center Grove is well-positioned for a second straight state meet appearance.

Of the 32 runners on the Trojans’ roster, 12 are seniors.

“I have had more talented teams in the past, but this group of athletes are the most coachable set of guys I’ve had in a long time,” Trojans coach Howard Harrell said. “It starts at the top with team captains Griffin Miller and Grant Stapleton.”

Miller finished fourth at last year’s sectional, and Stapleton was 17th.

Among other top returners are seniors Josh Lawson and Tyler Antal, junior Riley Turk and sophomore Noah Rhoten.

The Trojans open the season Friday against visiting Warren Central during halftime of the schools’ varsity football game.

Edinburgh

Low numbers are an annual concern for the Lancers, and this year is no exception.

With only three runners, second-year coach Amy Macy — who is trying to attract more athletes — won’t be able to field a complete team for meets.

For the moment, sophomores Austin Burton, Addison Lollar and Dalton Ford comprise the roster.

Edinburgh opens the season Friday at the Blue River Early Bird Invitational in Shelbyville.

Franklin

Graduation took a heavy toll on the Grizzly Cubs, who lost the top three runners from last year’s team that won county and regional championships.

But coach Adam Schwartz is confident the Cubs can fill the void.

“We had a strong summer of training that will help us along the way,” Schwartz said.

Top returners include seniors Blaine Conners and J.T. Sargent, and juniors Peter Hostetter and Luke Tucker.

Franklin also has high expectations for sophomore Chandler McGaha and freshmen Josh Campbell and Caleb McCort.

The Cubs opened the season Monday at the Blue River Early Bird Invitational.

Greenwood

Despite the graduation loss of David Dalton, who finishsed second at the IHSAA state meet, the Woodmen are confident of building on last season’s team success

Greenwood finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at the sectional and regional and advanced to the state finals.

The top returners are juniors Hunter Smith and Zeke Neihart. Smith finished ninth in last year’s sectional, and Neihart was 35th.

“We have more depth this year than in past years on the boys side,” veteran coach Debbie Guckenberger said, “but we’ll greatly miss David.”

Greenwood opened the season Aug. 18 at the Blue River Early Bird Invitational.

Indian Creek

Despite a young roster, the Braves aren’t void of varsity experience.

The top returners are junior Tucker Dawson, and sophomores Sean Bowman, Aidan Marlow and Brandon Briggs.

Freshmen Nolan Reed and Lavelle Albert also are expected to contribute.

The Braves opened the season Monday at the Blue River Early Bird Invitational.

Whiteland

Despite graduation the loss of three seniors, coach Gerry Emerson is optimistic about the season.

“Our goals are to win the Decatur Central Invitational, finish in the top half of the Mid-State Conference and advance to the regional,” Emerson said.

Expected to lead the way are seniors Landry Long and Josh Merritt. The Warriors also have experienced runners in juniors Jared Canary, Spencer Johnson and Jared Williams and sophomore Jake Fendley.

Freshman David Ryan also is expected to make an immediate contribution.

“We have been working very hard to improve, and our hopes are that each returning runner can drop significant times from a year ago,” Emerson said.

The Warriors open the season Saturday at the Plainfield Invitational.

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