Follow The Republic:
NASHVILLE — It was a proud moment for Columbus North cross-country coach Rick Weinheimer telling seven shivering girls that their effort was, once again, outstanding.
The Bull Dogs had just completed the boys and girls daily double, with both teams taking Brown County Semi-State team championships in front of thousands of fans who packed every corner of the site.
Mackenzie Caldwell continued her remarkable run, defending her semi-state individual title and setting up her challenge for a state championship Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross-Country Course in Terre Haute.
But with the state meet, and ultimate goal, still a week away, Weinheimer noted that even a team with North’s record of accomplishments should appreciate the magnitude of a semi-state title.
“A big aspect of this team, and I should say team-slash-family, is that before the race, we spend so much time together training in all kinds of conditions,” Weinheimer said. “These kids come in three days a week at 6 a.m. for extra workouts.
“When you do those kinds of things, your bonds grow. These kids eat and do their homework together. They have a movie night, and we just had a Halloween party.
“By the time we go to the starting line, we are completely immersed in each other’s lives.”
In a meet such as the semi-state, it’s not just critical the top two or three runners perform well.
“I try to think of this as more of a team thing,” said North junior Chase Ballard, who finished 14th overall at 15:55 and who was fourth among the Bull Dogs. “I want to help out the team the best I can.
“I’m not going to go out too hard because I want to score as few as points as possible (the team with the lowest total points wins). We want to control our aggression.”
North’s Michael Keller was 17th in 16:05.8, completing his team’s top five scorers toward the team’s total of 36.
“We all want it more than anything right now,” said Keller, a senior. “We all have worked up to the state meet, and I’m feeling a lot of pressure. If I can minimize my times, it is going to help.”
The Bull Dogs got their usual big efforts from Kaden Eaton (third in 15:37.7), Seth Williams (fifth in 15:39.8) and Andy Carr (eighth in 15:49.4).
Terre Haute South’s Jackson Bertoli won the boys race in 15:29.1.
Columbus North was followed in the boys standings by Bloomington South (63), Terre Haute South (79), Bloomington North (128), South Knox (234) and Evansville North (253). The top six teams advance to the state meet.
Seymour (264) narrowly missed qualifying and placed seventh. Columbus East placed 19th with 418.
Seymour’s Jack Tormoehlen qualified for the state meet with a 25th-place finish in 16:27.
“It was fun ... the whole atmosphere,” said Eaton. “There were lots of screaming people and lots of really fast guys.”
Nobody was going to catch Bertoli.
“I knew Jackson had a pretty good lead,” Eaton said. “But you never know what is going to happen. There was a chance he would fall down.”
On the girls side, Caldwell once against crushed the field, winning in 17:45.3.
“I did feel really good,” Caldwell said. “And I’m getting excited (about the state meet).”
Caldwell knew that behind her, the Bull Dogs were taking care of business. Sierra Lax ran a gutty race, capturing second in 18:13.8, passing three runners in the final kilometer. North’s Rachel Brougher was seventh overall in 18:46.4 while Allison Coffey was 11th in 19:06.2. Bull Dog Nina Bouthier was 19th in 19:32.
“They all love this team,” Caldwell said of her teammates. “That’s what makes it so special.”
Lax stayed calm halfway through her race when runners started to pass her.
“In the past, that would have been in the back of my mind,” she said. “But I told myself, ‘You can’t give up.’ “
She kicked it into high gear coming down the stretch and among those she passed were Bloomington North’s Kate Raphael, who was third, and Bloomington South’s Alexandra Warzyniak, fourth, both who had beaten her in previous races.
“Sierra set the groundwork for this race the way she has been practicing,” Weinheimer said.
Along those lines, Coffey has made solid strides as well.
“In cross-country, it’s so important to have your top five runners do well,” Coffey said. “Even your sixth and seven runners get in front of other people (giving them extra points).”
Weinheimer said it was North’s best meet of the year for both the boys and girls.
“Winning is difficult,” Weinheimer said. “You are asking 15- and 16-year-old kids to be at their best Saturday after Saturday after Saturday.
“It takes trust, and it also takes personal character.”
The North girls scored 38 as a team and were followed by Bloomington South (98), Terre Haute North (115), Floyd Central (138), Bloomington North (178) and Jasper (203).
Brown County (384) was 13th, Columbus East (405) was 17th and Seymour (554) finished 20th.
Brown County Semi-State
first, 36 team points
Kaden Eaton 15:37, Seth Williams 15:39, Andy Carr 15:49, Chase Ballard 15:55, Michael Keller 16:05, Ben Rankin 16:34, Ben Porter 16:53
19th, 418 team points
Issac Richardson 17:11, Jacob Bostic 17:16, Paul Baker 17:47, Shaunak Deshmukh 18:39, Will Bucklew 18:47, Josh Mauzy 19:19
first, 38 team points
Mackenzie Caldwell 17:45, Sierra Lax 18:13, Rachel Brougher 18:46, Allison Coffey 19:06, Nina Bouthier 19:32, Avrie Allen 19:45, Olivia Malone 19:56
17th, 405 team points
Morgan Ketron 20:53, Kira Singer 20:55, Rachel Foley 21:33, Maddie Lyons 21:53, Emma Mensendiek 22:03, Kaitlin Wendel 22:27, Megan Miller 23:25
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.