NASHVILLE — Mackenzie Caldwell broke her own school record, and Karson Tays outran a trio of Lawrence Central runners to the finish line Wednesday, as the Columbus North girls and boys defended their Conference Indiana cross-country championships.
The No. 9 Bull Dog boys edged No. 9 Lawrence Central 44-45, while No. 8 Bloomington South finished third with 72. The No. 5 North girls outdueled No. 8 Franklin Central 35-42.
Caldwell ran 17 minutes, 51.09 seconds to break her school record by a second and tie the course record at Brown County’s Eagle Park. Her strongest challengers were teammates Rachael Sollman, who finished second in 18:16.39, and Sierra Lax, who was third in 18:42.23.
“I wanted to go out hard and relaxed and focus on my form,” Caldwell said. “This was my breakout race last year, so I knew what to train for. I knew there’d be a lot of strong individuals and teams here, so it added pressure, but I’ve learned to run well under pressure.”
Nina Bouthier finished 10th in 19:23.01 to join the top three runners on the All-Conference team. Rosemary Yonushonis and Allison Coffey took 19th (20:01.13) and 20th (20:12.82), and Morgan Neal was 25th (20:22.89).
In the boys race, Tays won a sprint to the finish to hold off Lawrence Central’s Chandler Ball 15:31.00 to 15:33.97.
“I just wanted to settle in and stay with the leaders and make my move around the 4K mark,” Tays said. “This is my personal-best time, and I’m happy it came today. The competition’s always tougher at conference, but you just can’t think about the pressure.”
North’s All-Conference boys runners included Tays, Andy Carr (eighth in 16:00.84), Kaden Eaton (10th in 16:11.49) and Seth Williams (11th in 16:14.48). Kevin Rudzinski finished 14th (16:20.40), Chase Ballard took 19th (16:36.40) and Chris Von Hoene was 33rd (17:09.05).
“We have one of the most competitive cross country conferences in the state,” North coach Rick Weinheimer said. “It’s always a thrill when we win. I am very proud of how hard our athletes have worked over the last 12 months to make this happen. October is our month, and the Bull Dog harriers have started the month in the best way possible.”
The Bull Dogs will compete in the Brown County Sectional on Oct. 9.