Four consecutive semistate appearances have established the Columbus East girls as a solid cross-country program.
But after finishing near the bottom of the Brown County Semistate, the Olympians would like to move closer to the top 10 in the 20-team field. With its top six runners back from that semistate meet, East figures it has the talent to do that this year.
“That’s kind of our hope,” East coach Leslie Weaver said. “Ninety percent of our team has attended summer practice, so we’re coming into it pretty solid.”
Seniors Kira Singer returns as the Olympians’ top runner. Senior Maddie Lyons has made big strides, and sophomore newcomer Lizzy Frazier has shown promise after playing golf last fall.
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Junior Emma Mensendiek and sophomore Kristen Lyons also return to the varsity, and senior Morgan Ketron has spent most of the past three years as East’s No. 1 or No. 2 runner. Freshman Amanda Pottorff and junior returning varsity runner Lindsey Morgan are also battling for a varsity spot.
“We have a little more depth this year, so the strategy this year is to run as a pack so we can stay close together and keep our score low,” Weaver said. “I think we’re going to have a constant rotation from No. 4 to about No. 7.”
After not having enough runners to compete in a team in last year’s postseason, the Jets will begin this season with five girls.
“That’s a challenge every year — to get five girls to run,” Hauser coach Ben Finke said. “It’s great we can have individuals who can compete and run, but it’s really nice to have a team to compete for.”
Senior Abbey Ashbrook was the Jets’ No. 1 runner last year before suffering a concussion and missing most of the rest of the season. Junior Maleah Bates also returns.
Hauser received a big boost with the move in of junior Naomi Gollmer, who ran for a Frankton team that qualified for the New Haven Semistate last season. Also new this year are freshmen Jadalen Asher and Kristen Keith.
“I’m really pleased the way we work together,” Finke said. “We’re definitely a strong team. I think it will be late in the season before we reach our potential, but I’m excited to see what we have.”
The Crusaders will have three girls, including two returners from last season.
“It was more casual last year,” new Columbus Christian coach Dave Baldwin said. “This has the feel of an inaugural year in a way.”
Sophomore Erica Gregg and junior Faith Bowman are back from last season. They are joined by sophomore Sarah Kendall.
“There’s a lot of building that’s going on,” Baldwin said. “I just tell them ‘A step at a time.’ Hopefully, they’ll realize that they can unlock that potential and run faster than they thought they could.”
The Panthers return four runners from a team that qualified for regional.
Senior Olivia Heaton, who was the No. 1 runner last year, and senior Emilee Greathouse are battling for the top spot with freshman Alana Daegar. Two more freshmen, Patricia Henry and Ashley Hinkle, are right behind them.
Senior Autumn Thomas and junior Sydney Taylor also return to the varsity. They are battling for the final two varsity spots with juniors Helen Fields and Nicole Richardson.
“For the first time in the three years that I’ve been with Jennings County, I can send them on a long run, and they’re competitive with each other,” Jennings coach Leah McLeod said. “They’re also competitive on an easier day. These freshmen are competitive, and that’s pushing the upperclassmen. Come tournament time, I think we’re going to be pretty tough.”
Senior Corissa Proctor returns to lead the Eagles after finishing 59th in the state finals last season.
Proctor also lead Brown County to the Western Indiana Conference title and a team semistate appearance last fall.
“I expect to be able to see some good progress,” Brown County coach Rob Abraham said. “Hopefully, we can lower that school record, and she can decide where she wants to go and run in college. That’s going to be a very viable option for her if she drops some time. She definitely wants to be a top-25 individual this year, and I think she has the components to be able to do that.”
Seniors Sam Francis and Jalynn Stanford, juniors Haley Abraham and Molly Austin and sophomore Vera Wagler also return to the varsity. Sophomore Katie Harsh, who played volleyball last fall, was the team’s only other competitor entering the week.
With five runners, the Cougars will be able to score as a team for the first time in three years.
“That was their first goal — to have a complete team — so we have checked off our first goal for the year,” South Decatur coach Bethany Fromer said. “We’re still working on getting 10 practices in for a couple of girls, so we’ll be incomplete for the first couple of meets, but we should be ready go after that. I think that will give them a little extra push when it comes to competing.”
Senior Ashley Hamilton was an individual regional qualifier last season. Junior Stacy Fox also returns.
The newcomers are freshman Hannah Miller, sophomore Mackenzie Kopplin and Oihana Egana, an exchange student from Spain.
The Lancers return four runners from a team that finished eighth in the Brown County Sectional.
Seniors Lilia Perez and Blythe Carman, junior Allie Schooler and sophomore Emily Davis are the returners. They are joined by junior Molly Bowker, sophomore Katelyn Bevins and freshman Emily Ewbank.
“We did some extra running this summer, so we hope to pick up where we ended last year and keep improving throughout the season,” Edinburgh coach Amy Macy said. “They’re just athletes, so that’s a plus for us.”
The Owls finished 19th at state last year, when they were led by a trio of freshmen.
Now sophomores, Emma Brock, Abby Voss and Oriana Morales return, along with classmate Claire Loebker and senior Megan Winter. Freshmen Ashton Chase and Brett Kleber will likely join them on varsity.
Senior Maya Hauersperger, who was a part-time varsity runner last season, and junior Sarah Benefiel also will push for varsity spots.
“We had a good summer,” Seymour coach Spencer Sunbury said. “They definitely are motivated and excited for this season, so I feel very confident in their ability and their drive to succeed this year. We’re hoping to get back up there and maybe push to get in the top 15.”
The Cougars have only one runner this year in senior Andrea Foster.
“We’ve been working to get her up to speed,” Trinity coach Chris Crenshaw said. “She’s making good progress. Being the only girl, it shows a lot of her dedication showing up every day.”
The 2015 Columbus East, Columbus Christian and Hauser girls cross-country schedules:
Wednesday;at Brown County Challenge;5:45 p.m.
Saturday;at Zionsville Invitational;9 a.m.
Sept. 5;at Martinsville Invitational;9 a.m.
Sept. 12;at Ben Davis Invitational;9:30 a.m.
Sept. 19;Flashrock Invitational at Carmel;9 a.m.
Sept. 26;at Bedford North Lawrence Invitational;9 a.m.
Sept. 29;Columbus North;5 p.m.
Oct. 3;HHC at Seymour;9 a.m.
Saturday;at Horizon Christian Invitational
Tuesday;at Irvington Prep Invitational
Sept. 3;at Bloomington Lighthouse Christian Invitational;4 p.m.
Sept. 5;at Martinsville Invitational;9 a.m.
Sept. 16;at Indianapolis Scecina;5 p.m.
Sept. 26;at Hauser Hereitage Day Classic;9 a.m.
Oct. 3;Crusader Invitational;10 a.m.
Saturday;Beast of the Southeast at Rising Sun;10 a.m.
Aug. 29;at Rushville Invitational;9 a.m.
Sept. 1;at Greensburg (with South Decatur and East Central);5 p.m.
Sept. 8;Edinburgh at Blue River Park;5 p.m.
Sept. 10;6-Way at Blue River Park;5:30 p.m.
Sept. 12;at Whiteland Invitational;8:30 a.m.
Sept. 19;MHC at Blue River Park;9 a.m.
Sept. 26;Heritage Day Classic;9 a.m.
Sept. 29;at Morristown;5 p.m.
Oct. 1;at Greensburg Invitational;5 p.m.
Oct. 3;at Columbus Christian Crusader Invitational;10 a.m.