The course almost felt like running in sand.
And that made it no day at the beach in Saturday’s Johnson County boys and girls cross country championships at Franklin Community High School.
After the host Grizzly Cubs boys team won its championship on the very damp five-kilometer grass course, Center Grove captured the team title in the girls event.
It wasn’t easy for any runner. Even boys meet winner Jake Johnson, who outpaced the second-place finisher by better than 12 seconds with his time of 16 minutes, 48 seconds to lead Franklin to the championship, wasn’t able to get maximum traction.
“It was a slow track. You’re not going to run a fast time on this course when it’s this damp,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to get a win.”
The Franklin senior also wanted to compete against Greenwood senior David Dalton, the defendng individual champion, who edged Johnson by a second in last fall’s county competition. But Dalton was busy getting his SAT out of the way, so that the crucial college entrance exam wouldn’t conflict with the upcoming IHSAA postseason.
Franklin posted a team score of 31, with three of Johnson’s teammates also placing in the top 10. They included senior Austin Havener (fifth), senior Camden MacLennan (sixth) and junior Blaine Conners (eighth).
Led by second-place finisher Griffin Miller, a junior, the Center Grove boys finished second with 43 points, followed by Whiteland with 73 and Indian Creek and Greenwood with 106 each.
Senior Gabe O’Keefe of Whiteland finished third. Junior Grant Stapleton of the Trojans was fourth. Junior Josh Lawson of Center Grove placed seventh. Sophomore Hunter Smith of the Woodmen took the ninth spot, and junior Landry Long of Whiteland finished 10th.
In the girls’ race, another Dalton from Greenwood did run, and she won handily while Center Grove claimed the team trophy.
Allie Dalton, a freshman, sped away to win by almost 13 seconds, posting a time of 19:04.
She noted having less trouble with the running surface.
“I didn’t get a PR (personal record), but I was happy with the way it went,” Dalton said. “I didn’t think it (the course) was actually that bad. I was lucky to get in before the rain.”
Center Grove was satisfied to come out with the team title.
“The course was very slow, but we accomplished our goal of winning the championship,” Center Grove coach Wes Dodson said. “Abby Tuttle and Shelbi Dishman did a great job.”
Tuttle, a junior, and Dishman, a senior, placed third and fourth, respectively, finishing behind winner Allie Dalton and junior Danielle Muse of Whiteland, who was runner-up. The Trojan girls also took the eighth and 10th spots turned in by freshman Valerie Clark and senior Rachel Dever to earn 33 team points.
Greenwood was second with 46 points, followed by Franklin with 70 and Whiteland with 81.
Dalton’s senior teammate Alyia Rosado came in fifth among the girls, individually. Franklin was paced by junior Morgan McCarter and sophomore Zosia Piotrowski, who were seventh and ninth, respectively.
Indian Creek junior Emma Russell was sixth, but Braves didn’t have enough entrants to earn a team score.