New Leadership: Changes at the top shouldn’t slow down Bull Dogs

Columbus North lost its longtime coach and its top runner, but the Bull Dogs hope to remain among the state’s elite girls cross-country teams.

Rick Weinheimer has retired after leading the North boys program for 38 years and the girls program for 35. Three-time The Republic Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year Rachel Brougher has moved on to Eastern Michigan.

Bethany Scruton, who has been an assistant for the Bull Dogs the past six years, takes over as the girls head coach.

“I’m thrilled with how the summer went,” Scruton said. “We have a big group of senior girls that have demonstrated a lot of great leadership, and their work ethic all summer was phenomenal. I’m looking forward to this season and getting to start meets and seeing their hard work pay off.”

Sophomore Olivia Morlok and senior Arig Tong each spent time as North’s No. 1 runner last season. Morlok was a state track qualifier in the 3,200 meters.

The Bull Dogs had a setback when last year’s No. 4 runner, Ana Singhal, moved to Indianapolis and is now running for Brebeuf Jesuit, but they welcome back senior Kirsten Ballard, who was injured much of last season. Sophomores Kennedy Kerber and Lily Dozier and junior Emma Smith also return from the top seven.

Juniors Sydney Geckler ran a little varsity last season. Also pushing for varsity spots are juniors Abby Landini and Emma Watson; senior Madelyn Sanders and freshmen Aric Tong and Mackenzie Barnett, Erin Rawlins and Nela Riddle.

“It could be a season where they battle back and forth, and it changes and mixes up as the season goes,” Scruton said. “I think they’re all really competitive and really hard workers.”

Columbus East

The Olympians saw their season come to a premature end last year when they finished sixth in the regional, seven points out of the fifth and final semistate qualifying spot.

Once again, East has a goal of making it to the semistate this fall.

“I think our conditioning and training has gone well,” East coach Jesse Shoaf said. “I think we’re in better condition than we started last fall.”

Senior Kristen Lyons was either the Olympians’ No. 1 or No. 2 runner in every meet last season. She is being pushed by junior Amanda Pottorff, who is coming off a solid track season.

Sophomores Ashley Novreske and Hannah Harris and senior Lizzy Frazier also return to the varsity. Battling for the final two varsity spots are freshman Elizabeth Stephens, sophomore newcomer Olivia Linneman and junior Yami Diaz, who ran as a freshman, but not last year.

“We just have a really young team,” Shoaf said. “We don’t have the juniors and seniors, and the freshmen are transitioning to running a 5K instead of 3K. We’re trying to figure out where they’re going to be at.”

Hauser

The Jets are hoping to have enough runners to score as a team this year after having just four runners last year. They currently have four girls again, but are hoping to add one or two more.

Junior Kristin Keith is the lone returning returner. Hauser did pick up a couple of basketball and softball players in senior Lauryn Starnes and sophomore Leah Joyce.

Freshman Tammy Essex joins the program after running in middle school.

“There’s going to be a lot of growth this year with our new runners,” Hauser coach Ben Finke said. “Where they place is going to be a matter of their hard work and where that talent comes out.”

Jennings County

The Panthers will look to defend their Southwestern (Hanover) Sectional title and improve on a sixth-place finish in the Hoosier Hills Conference and a 17th at semistate.

The top two runners return in junior Ashley Heindel and sophomore Emma Morrison. Juniors Alana Daeger and Patricia Henney also were in the top seven.

Junior Kaylee Ebinger likely will be in this year’s top five. Junior newcomer Lauren Mull and freshmen Elizabeth Walham and Kristen Klosterman have shown promise. Sophomore Emily Waldo also could contend for a varsity spot.

“We definitely have some newcomers that are going to push even the front-runners,” Jennings coach Leah McLeod said. “Hopefully, that makes everybody speed up.”

Brown County

The Eagles had only four runners for much of last year before picking up a fifth for the sectional. They have more to begin this season.

Sophomore Maris Wyman is the lone returner. She is joined by freshmen Emelia Koester, Rowan Kean, Emma Deborg and Anna Fleetwood and sophomore newcomer Angel Meece.

“That’s a very good freshman class,” Brown County coach Rob Abraham said. “We’re going to have to see how they develop as a group, but they’re all very competitive, and they don’t mind beating each other.”

South Decatur

The Cougars currently have only three healthy runners, but are hoping to pick up a couple more.

Sophomore Sierra Kalli was an All-Mid-Hoosier Conference runner last season. Junior Hannah Miller also returns and is joined by freshman Ali Boilanger.

Injured sophomores Claire Hamilton and Tori Storm could be ready by Sept. 1.

“I hope to have at least five girls,” South Decatur coach Bethany Fromer said. “If not, we’ll just focus on PRs and getting better each meet.”

Edinburgh

The Lancers lost four of the six runners that competed in last year’s sectional, but will have six again this season.

Senior Emily Davis is the top returning runner. Sophomores Lili Ervin and Destiney Ramey also ran varsity last year.

Freshmen McKensie Adair, Haven Link and Jillian Turner should provide a boost.

“My expectation is for our runners to come out every day looking to improve,” Edinburgh coach Ashley Myers said. “Hopefully, we can make a dent at some of the smaller meets and build the program for years to come.”

Trinity Lutheran

The Cougars will have a small team with only two runners.

Senior Jodi Goecker is back after running as a freshman, but not the past two years. She did, however, run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon last fall.

“She’s getting right back into it,” Trinity coach Chris Crenshaw said.

Goecker will be joined by freshman Abby Hildreth.

If you go

2017 cross-country schedules for Bartholomew County teams:

Columbus East

Aug. 16;at Brown County Challenge;6 p.m.

Aug. 19;at Zionsville Invitational,9 a.m.

Aug. 26;at Rushville Invitational;9 a.m.

Sept. 2;at Columbus North Classic;8:30 a.m.

Sept. 9;at Ben Davis Invitational;9:30 a.m.

Sept. 16;at Flashrock Invitational (Carmel);9 a.m.

Sept. 23;at Bedford North Lawrence Invitational;9 a.m.

Sept. 26;Columbus North;5 p.m.

Sept. 30;HHC;9 a.m.

Columbus North

Aug. 22;Martinsville;5:30 p.m.

Aug. 26;at Dave Bannon Invitational (Shelbyville);10 a.m.

Sept. 2;Columbus North Classic;8:30 a.m.

Sept. 9;at Brown County Eagle Classic;9:30 a.m.

Sept. 16;Conference Indiana at LaVern Gibson (Terre Haute);10 a.m.

Sept. 23;at Culver Invitational;8:30 a.m.

Sept. 26;at Columbus East;5:30 p.m.

Hauser

Aug. 19;at Rising Sun Invitational;9 a.m.

Aug. 26;at Rushville Invitational;9 a.m.

Aug. 29;at Greensburg (with South Decatur);5 p.m.

Sept. 5;Edinburgh at Blue River Park (Shelbyville);5 p.m.

Sept. 9;at Whiteland Invitational;8:30 a.m.

Sept. 16;MHC at Blue River Park (Shelbyville);9 a.m.

Sept. 23;Heritage Day Classic;9 a.m.

Sept. 26;at Morristown;5 p.m.

Sept. 28;at Greensburg Invitational;5 p.m.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.