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It was a day of seconds and a third for Columbus North on Saturday afternoon, but it certainly wasn’t a day of disappointment.
The Bull Dog boys and girls squads were all smiles and laughter as they posed for pictures following the awards ceremony for the Indiana Cross-Country State Finals. North’s boys finished second as a team, and senior Mackenzie Caldwell took second individually to lead the girls to a third-place team finish.
“I am tremendously proud,” North coach Rick Weinheimer said. “I’m almost speechless because of how well and how hard our kids ran.”
Four Bull Dog boys and two girls earned All-State honors with top-25 finishes. That included Caldwell, who took the lead about midway through the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) race, then fell behind Carmel’s Kelcy Welch around the 4K mark. Caldwell made a furious kick to nearly catch Welch at the finish line.
Welch, the daughter of longtime Indianapolis and current ESPN racing sportscaster Vince Welch, won in 17 minutes, 53.9 seconds. Caldwell finished in 17:56.8.
“I was just trying to keep moving and keep going and run my own race,” Caldwell said. “I was giving it everything I had, and I was trying my best. I’m happy with it, and I’m happy for (Welch), too.”
“Mackenzie laid it down against a very, very good runner, and it could have gone either way,” Weinheimer said. “She did the best she could do.”
Meanwhile, the second-ranked North boys were at the top of their game, but couldn’t quite overcome top-ranked Carmel. The Greyhounds edged North 64-78, while Fort Wayne Carroll was a distant third with 192.
“Our boys ran one of the best state meets we’ve ever run,” Weinheimer said. “It’s hardly ever that 78 wouldn’t win, and our boys ran well enough to win. Carmel was a little bit better today. I’m thrilled with how they did.”
Senior Andy Carr led the boys with an 12th-place finish in 15:50.7. Jackson Bertoli from Terre Haute South won the boys race in 15:32.4.
“I’m incredibly proud of how everybody here has pulled their own weight, and they’ve done so much over the past few months to prepare for this,” Carr said.
Junior Seth Williams finished 17th in 15:54.0. Senior Kaden Eaton took 19th in 15:55.6.
“I think all of us ran a great race,” Williams said.
“I know from all the time we’ve spent together working for this, all these guys gave 100 percent today, and we can be proud of that,” Eaton said.
Junior Chase Ballard also earned All-State honors with a 21st-place finish in 15:59.1. Senior Michael Keller rounded out the scoring with a 42nd in 16:16.2.
“We all laid it on the line today,” Ballard said. “I was happy with that.”
“I think we gave it all today, so I’m happy about our place, and I’m happy about everything that happened,” Keller said.
Sophomore Ben Rankin finished 87th in 16:45.2. Senior Andrew Baldwin was 155th in 17:20.8.
Carmel’s girls made it a sweep of the titles, scoring 76 points. Hamilton Southeastern outscored North 122-141 for second, while West Lafayette was fourth with 150.
Sophomore Sierra Lax joined Caldwell on the awards podium by finishing 11th in 18:27.6.
“It’s a great experience,” Lax said. “You can’t take these things for granted. I came into this race thinking that anything is possible, so when I figured out what I got, it was a good surprise.”
Freshman Rachel Brougher finished 30th in 18:56.1. Sophomore Nina Bouthier was 74th in 19:31.4, while sophomore Allison Coffey was 91st (19:43.6), sophomore Avrie Allen 93rd (19:44.9) and junior Olivia Malone 132nd (20:26.0).
It was the second consecutive year North’s girls have finished third. The North boys have finished in the top two in four of the past five years. North was sixth last year after winning three consecutive state titles.
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