NASHVILLE — The way Columbus North coach Rick Weinheimer sees it, the regional cross-country meet is sometimes a trap meet in the four-week postseason.
At the sectional, teams are excited to begin the postseason. At the semistate, teams are excited about the possibility of qualifying for the state finals.
But at North, where winning the regional is an annual formality, sometimes that excitement level isn’t there.
That wasn’t the case on Saturday. The sixth-ranked Bull Dogs girls and ninth-ranked North boys had several runners achieve personal-bests in rolling to Brown County Regional titles.
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“I think both groups ran even better this week than last week,” Weinheimer said. “Sometimes, I think this is the snag week. You have the tournament started, and you’ve had that excitement. Then this week, you don’t necessarily have huge competition that comes in yet, so it’s easy to just go through the motions. But I’m thrilled that our kids did not go through the motions. I just thought their competitive spirit was terrific.”
The Bull Dogs girls put five runners in the top seven to win with 19 points to 44 for runner-up Seymour. The North boys scored 35 points to 81 for Silver Creek.
North senior Rachel Brougher overcame a slow start to defend her regional title, running 18 minutes, 43.56 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles).
“I was happy with it again,” Brougher said. “It was a little crowded at the start, but that’s typical. But it was my second-fastest time this season, so I’ll definitely take it.”
Arig Tong was right behind Brougher, finishing second in 18:46.08. Olivia Morlok took third in 19:00.96, while Ana Singhal was sixth in 19:44.37 and Kennedy Kerber eighth in 20:07.95.
Also for North, Emma Smith finished 14th in 20:30.90, and Lily Dozier was 15th in 20:52.01.
“Having three that finished so far up makes a big difference in how your team plays out,” Weinheimer said. “Then I thought after them, Ana Singhal and Kennedy Kerber both ran the best races they’ve run this season. So we’re excited to be on a roll with our confidence and training going into the semistate.”
Jennings County finished fourth with 136 points, eight behind Brownstown Central, to advance for Saturday’s Brown County Semistate. Silver Creek edged Columbus East 147-154 for the fifth and final qualifying spot.
Ashley Heindel led the Panthers with an 18th-place finish in 21:04.72. Emma Morrison took 21st in 21:18.01, while Nicole Richardson was 31st (21:54.20), Sydney Taylor 41st (22:30.85), Alana Daeger 52nd (23:09.80), Marley Stearns 68th (24:05.36) and Patricia Henney 71st (24:21.34).
“I was nervous,” Jennings girls coach Leah Brock said. “I told them today to run with East, and we did. We’re excited. We held off Silver Creek again, and to beat East, we’ve been working on that for four years.”
The Olympians, who were missing No. 5 runner Hannah Harris, did advance two individuals to semistate. Emma Mensendiek, who finished 22nd in 21:24.60, and Kristen Lyons, who was 24th in 21:30.04, were among the top 10 individuals on non-advancing teams.
Also for East, Amanda Pottorff and Lindsey Morgan finished 45th and 46th in 22:34.53 and 22:49.75. Ashley Novreske took 48th in 22:56.60, while Lizzy Frazier was 56th (23:17.41) and Maddie Ping 69th (24:06.21).
“Emma and Kristen have led us all season long, so we were confident that they could do it again,” East girls coach Jesse Shoaf said. “They’ve been really consistent, so we’re happy for them. As a team, we were a little bit off today, but sometimes that happens.”
On the boys side, the victorious Bull Dogs were led by third- and fourth-place finishes from Elijah Brooks (16:21.94) and Charlie Allen (16:25.26). Eli Fischer took seventh in 16:32.15, while Drew Smith was 18th (16:51.53), Peyton Shelton 23rd (16:58.02) and Justin Spoon 38th (17:31.34).
Jennings finished third as a team with 84 points, three behind Silver Creek.
Alex Hendrix led the Panthers with a sixth-place finish in 16:30.18. Franklin Sanders took 12th in 16:48.57, while Carter Leak was 19th (16:52.82), Ryan Gasper 27th (17:07.44), Dalton Craig 32nd (17:21.14), Wayne Komsi 39th (17:31.78) and Jason Gasper 79th (19:28.68).
“We have all the pieces to finally contend with North for once, and we allow Silver Creek to sneak back in,” Jennings coach Bryant Layman said. “But it is the week of fall break, so we’re hoping that our guys are a little tired. We believe we’re going to run our best race at semistate. We prepare for that one race.”
Brown County edged Columbus East 167-168 for seventh and eighth place, but both teams advanced two individuals. The Eagles’ Wyatt Wyman finished eighth in 16:33.58, and Job Lawson took 16th in 16:50.62, while East’s Paul Bean was 14th in 16:49.82 and Jonathan Clayton 28th in 17:07.95.
Also for Brown County, Jackson McPheeters finished 44th in 17:47.24. Nathan Kilburn took 67th in 18:41.62, while Jordan Samples was 74th (19:10.34) and Tim Kilburn 84th (20:40.37).
“(Wyman and Lawson) ran a smart race,” Brown County coach Rob Abraham said. “They ended up doing what they had to do to make sure that they got out. Jackson McPheeters ran solid. When push comes to shove, I thought we ran a pretty good race.”
East’s Michael Zieleniuk finished 46th in 17:48.82. Josh Sensanbaugher took 50th in 17:54.13, while Michael McGaha was 66th (18:39.02), Josh Mauzy 69th (18:48.19) and Josh Wettschurack 78th (19:27.90).
“That was definitely a very disappointing finish to the season, the way we had been racing recently,” East boys coach Ryan Burke said. “We’ll keep working with (Bean and Clayton) and get them ready and hopefully see if we can get them to the state meet.”
Trinity Lutheran’s lone runner, A.J. Goecker, qualified for semistate with a 20th-place finish in 16:53.34. Hauser’s David Seelye did not qualify after taking 52nd in 17:57.76.
Brown County’s Haley Abraham finished 40th in 22:30.11, and Mica Selby took 57th in 23:19.19. Edinburgh’s Bailey Woodall was 58th in 23:20.23.