When the boys cross-country state final rolls around on Nov. 1, the race for the championship could be as wide open as it has been in several years.
That’s because two-time defending champion Carmel suffered heavy graduation losses. Columbus North, which preceded the Greyhounds with three straight titles of its own from 2009-11 and finished second last year, also lost a lot but could still contend for its sixth overall crown.
“We’re really untested,” veteran North coach Rick Weinheimer said. “They look good in training, but we’ll need to race some meets to see where we are.”
The Bull Dogs lost four of the seven runners who competed at state last season but return two All-State runners in seniors Seth Williams and Chase Ballard, who finished 17th and 21st, respectively.
Junior Ben Rankin is the only other runner back from the state lineup. Junior Ben Porter was also a varsity runner for most of last season.
Sophomore Elijah Brooks and senior Joe Wright have shown big improvements since last fall. Seniors Kyle Newland, Nick Green and Daniel Padilla are battling for the No. 7 spot.
“They’re hoping to model Michael Keller, who had never ran a varsity race until his senior year last year, and he was unbelievable all year long,” Weinheimer said. “We’re hoping any one of those seniors could have a similar season.”
Also looking to crack the lineup are sophomores Eli Fischer and Alec Embry.
“I know it’s really early, but we’re eager to start racing because our guys have trained really hard for a lot of months here, and we can tell from our training that guys have improved a bunch,” Weinheimer said. “We’re looking forward to them racing.”
The Olympians have some lofty aspirations after finishing 19th in the Brown County Semistate last year.
“Our goal for this season is to get to the state meet,” East coach Ryan Burke said. “This year, I think that is a more realistic goal than it has been in the past. If we stay healthy, we’ll have a shot to be in that mix at the end of the year.”
Sophomore Paul Bean spent the majority of last season as the Olympians’
No. 1 runner. Senior Isaac Richardson and junior Jacob Bostic were also among the team’s top four all year.
Freshman Michael Zieleniuk and sophomore newcomer Josh Wettschurack could fill the No. 4 and 5 spots.
Junior Shaunak Deshmukh, who was the No. 5 runner, and sophomore Josh Mauzy, who was No. 7, are battling for the final two varsity spots with sophomores Jonathan Clayton, who ran varsity a couple times at beginning of last season, and Josh Sensanbaugher, who ran one varsity race.
“This summer has gone well, and I think we can turn some heads,” Burke said. “I think with the additions we have and the young team with the year under their belt, we’re going to go into the season ready to run well. I think maybe we’ll catch some people off guard.”
The Jets return five runners from a team that finished eighth in the Brown County Sectional.
Senior Dalton McKinney was a regional qualifier as an individual. Also back are sophomore Owen Rush, senior Wyatt Whittington, junior Josh Adams and sophomore Austin Everroad.
Freshmen David Seeley, Sam Robinson, Jordan Johnson are battling for spots in the top seven.
“We have more runners and several fighting for the last couple varsity spots,” Hauser coach Ben Finke said. “I think we’re deeper this year for certain. We’ll have more people running in the 18s, 19s and low 20s. I think we can match what we did last year or improve on it.”
New coach Brian Guthrie takes over a team that just missed qualifying for semistate last season, falling to East by three points for the fifth and final qualifying
spot from the Brown
Senior Kyle Lewis, who is also playing soccer this fall, is the top returning runner.
“He’s talking state,” Guthrie said. “I’m glad he has his goals set high.”
Junior Ricky Hendrix and sophomore Wayne Komsi also return from the regional lineup. Hendrix has been running among the top five this fall, along with junior Chase McNicholas, senior Christian Liston and freshman Franklin Sanders.
Komsi, junior Bruce Willhite and freshmen Ryan Gasper and Isaiah Ertel are battling for the other two varsity spots.
“I have a good group of freshmen, and I really think they’re going to step up to the plate and help us out a lot,” Guthrie said. “With what we have coming back and what we have coming in, I believe we’re going to have a solid season. Being new to the program, I’m trying to get them jelling together.”
The Eagles had one of their worst seasons in recent history last year, finishing ninth in their own sectional.
Senior Eddie Ryan was Brown County’s No. 1 runner most of last season. Junior Brock Updike was a regional qualifier as an individual.
Looking to fill the other varsity spots are senior Trenton Cornelius, freshmen Isaiah Keefauber and Wyatt Wayman, senior Robbie Dolph II and junior
“They are night and day from last year,” Brown County coach Rob Abraham said. “They are working hard in practice, and I have no faults with them right now. We’re going to have to wait and see how it goes mental toughness-wise. They could be very good by the end of the year if everything comes together.”
The Cougars picked up a big boost when senior Sam Studler, their No. 1 runner in 2012, returned to cross-country after playing football last fall.
South Decatur finished ninth in the South Dearborn Sectional, but junior Justyn Clark was a regional qualifier as an individual. Clark and senior Nick Grissom were All-Decatur County.
Sophomore Dylan Cowen could challenge for the No. 1 spot. Freshmen Cole Bower, Carl Kroger and Charlie Hamilton look to round out the top seven, while senior Jacob Klene could challenge for a varsity spot.
“All of them individual want to be All-County and All-Conference,” South Decatur coach Bethany Fromer said. “We want to get top-three in conference and win county. We think we’re going to be pretty strong.”
The Lancers have only three boys, two short of the number needed to score as
Sophomores Addison Lollar and Austin Burton return from last season. Sophomore Dalton Ford is a newcomer.
“(Lollar has) set a goal to be All-Conference this year,” Edinburgh coach Amy Macy said. “(Burton has) improved from last year. I’m trying to get at least two more so we can score points.”
The Owls came agonizingly close to qualifying for state last season, missing the sixth and final qualifying spot by 11 points.
Senior Daniel Hauersperger was one of Seymour’s top runners. Senior Keegan Bowman is the only other full-time varsity returner.
Battling for the rest of the varsity spots are juniors Cole Spivey and Tim Molinari; sophomores Cam Deppen, Alex Lovins and Hunter Bauserman; and freshmen Trent Hohenstreiter and Jacob Voss.
“We graduated an awful lot, so we are going to have to have some people replace those quality runners,” Seymour coach Randy Fife said. “We’ll be hard-pressed this year to be that competitive at the semistate unless these young runners really progress. We won’t be as strong at the top this year, but we could be stronger at the 5-6-7.”
Chris Crenshaw, who coached the Cougar boys track team in the spring, takes over the cross-country program.
Trinity finished 10th in the Brown County Sectional, but junior Luke Onken was regional qualifier as an individual. Also back are junior Nikolai Haak, senior Grayson Mellencamp, junior Daniel Horton and senior Clayton Pottschmidt.
Sophomore newcomer Skylar Stahl and freshman Alex Royalty round out the roster.
“I think a lot of them have potential,” Crenshaw said. “We just have to bring that out of them this year. I think we have the potential to get to regional as a team.”