Floyd girls 7th at state, boys 19th
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
Saturday’s Indiana State cross-country finals at the LaVerne Gibson course in Terre Haute again separated the fittest from the weakest on a cool, windy day that was tough for the local runners competing. The Floyd Central Superchicks ran well to finish seventh as a team, but the Highlanders had a disappointing day at 19th. Corydon Central’s Camden Marshall didn’t get the day he wanted as well, finishing 31st.
The Lady Highlanders got off to a great start in the morning’s girls’ race, lined up in box No. 6, which gave them a straight shot down the long straightaway toward the first turn. Floyd Central’s Jaydon Cirincione was one of those runners who placed herself in the top 20 in the early going, along with Jasper’s Andi VanMeter, Karina James of Lowell, Zoe Duffus of Fort Wayne Carroll and Annie Christie of Carmel, who paced each other through the first half of the race.
At the midway point, Cirincione was still in contention for a medal as was VanMeter. Floyd Central’s Kaitlyn Stewart was running strong, but teammate Savanna Liddle began to struggle. Sydney Baxter continued to look strong going into her final half of the race.
The finish became a battle between James and Duffus in a side-by-size race with 100 meters to go. James finally pulled ahead and won by a two-second margin (18:00.1) over Duffus (18:02.3). Christie finished third (18:19.0), Ellen Baker of North Central (Indianapolis) was fourth (18:20.8) and Park Tudor’s Sophia Kennedy was fifth (18:22.2).
Jasper’s VanMeter had a medal-winning day, finishing in the 16th position. For a while, it appeared that Floyd Central’s Cirincione was going to join VanMeter on the podium, at 19th, headed for the finish. But with just a few feet to go to the finish, Cirincione’s body began to break down. Just 20 feet from the finish, the Floyd Central junior fell and hit the ground with oncoming runners just a few feet away. Cirincione picked herself up to finish but not before being passed by four runners, taking her off the podium. Cirincione still claimed an All-State spot, finishing 24th for the day in a time of 19:04.2.
“I did really well for what I did last year at least,” Cirincione said after getting oxygen and glucose from the first-aid tent. “I got 180 places better than last time, so it’s a plus, and I got All-State, which is fantastic. I was really looking forward to doing top 20, but I know I pushed myself as hard as I could because I took that little tumble at the end.
“I left every single drop of it out there. At least I can’t say I could have gone harder,” she said. “I’m happy with my season ending. I have two more races this year so, hopefully, I’ll go out and get another PR and then start where I ended last year, get All-State and maybe get in the top 10, which would be fantastic. All I want to do is get better and better, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Stewart had a solid day for the Lady Highlanders with a 38th-place finish (19:21.7). Liddle finished 61st in 19:44.1, and Baxter was 104th in 20:18.7. Natalie Claire was 168th (21:11.6), Meredith Bielefeld 186th (21:46.5) and Ella Neafus was 199th in 22:36.1.
“I didn’t feel too good, but I tried pushing through it,” said Liddle. “I felt like I was going out really fast. There were a lot of people, so it was tough. The first stretch I wasn’t too boxed in but, when we got down to the corner, it was really crowded, so it was a little boxed in where you couldn’t move in and out of people.”
Floyd Central senior Baxter said the Lady Highlanders had a great starting position but runners had to save some energy for the finish while trying to get by as many people as possible.
“We were on the left side, and it’s an advantage to be on the left because it’s a straight shot, so we didn’t really have anybody in our way,” Baxter said. “So, we didn’t get boxed in or anything like that. In my opinion, it’s one of the best starts we’ve had here because of our box number. It was a really good box number.”
“It’s always a tough one to get out, so the goal the whole race is to just keep passing people,” said Baxter. “You don’t want to burn yourself out at the beginning, but the wind was really tough today. It’s always a hard course to run on. If you’re out alone, the wind was hitting you the whole time and you had no one to block it for you.”
“I’m proud of our seniors,” said Floyd Central coach Jeff Liddle. “They had a great season. Everybody is a little teary-eyed today, but I think we did well overall. I think everybody gave it their best effort, so I can’t argue with that.”
“Kaitlyn Stewart ran fantastic,” he said. “She was (38th) place. Savanna struggled a little bit. She was around 60s or 70s position-wise; her goal was top 50. Sydney was around 100.
“It’s so big and wide open,” Liddle said. “There was a strong headwind. I heard there was gusts of 30 miles per hour. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but the headwind was strong and the ground is really soft. You just have to be triple-running your tangents and trying to draft off other runners.”
“It’s tough,” said the Floyd Central coach. “You have a lot of great, quality runners, of course, at the state championship; 420 teams in the state and your best 24 teams are here. So, overall, I’m pleased with them, and I’m real happy for Jaydon for All-State.”
Corydon Central’s Camden Marshall was considered one of the favorites for the boys’ race but, like they say, sometime the mountain conquers you. Marshall got off to a great start, immediately going to the front along with the other meet favorites. At the halfway point, Izaiah Steury of Angola and Lucas Guerra of Highlander had broken away from the lead pack with Marshall leading the chase group.
“It was for sure a tough day,” Marshall said. “Through one (kilometer), I was in position where I wanted to be and, from then on, I just kind of struggled. At 2k, I was still kind of in the race, but after that I started feeling really bad and falling back.”
Steury and Guerra continued to battle for the top spot of the race. With 200 meters to go, Steury broke away from Guerra. The Angola junior went on to win in a time of 15:23.7 with Guerra a few seconds behind in 15:34.5. Kole Mathison was third in 15:36.4.
Marshall fell farther back during the stretch run to finish 31st in a time of 16 minutes, 16.7 seconds. The Corydon Central senior said the race went well until the middle part of the run.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily one thing I could pin it to,” said Marshall. “It was just an off day … At six or seven hundred meters, Steury and Mathison started pulling away. It was kind of me leading the chase pack. A little after one (kilometer), some more guys started pulling away.”
“I’m super happy with my season,” said Marshall, who thanked all of his coaches for getting him to where he is in just two years. “I felt like up until this weekend I checked off everything I wanted to and everything I hoped for the season. It’s a tough way to end the season, but I’m still super proud of everything I’ve done. (Semi-state) was a huge accomplishment. I’m super proud to have done that.”
It was a bittersweet day for the Highlanders with the team finishing 19th in the standings after having high hopes for a podium finish. Floyd Central freshman William Conway had a solid race, finishing 38th in a time of 16 minutes, 23 seconds, one spot behind Forest Park’s Spenser Wolf.
“Will ran great,” said Floyd Central boys’ coach Tim Korte. “Our freshman ran great. Honestly, I think Seth Owings had a really good race too. He’s who we put in place of Weston (Naville). So, our seventh had a good race. Other than that, though, a lot of people didn’t look good.”
Nicholas Gordon was 124th in 17:08.2 and Justin McWilliams was 126th for the Highlanders in 17:08.8. Joseph Meier was 139th in 17:14.9, and Hunter Griffin was 149th in 17:20.1. Adam Heitz was 153rd at 17:23.6, and Seth Owings 162nd at 17:31.9.
“I started getting a little more back at the halfway point but about a thousand meters I was pretty shot,” Griffin said. “I had nothing. I don’t know if it was bad preparation by me or not enough sleep overthinking, but midway through that race I really hit a wall. It sucks that it has to end like that, but I’ve always used failures like this to help me get better. I’ve improved every year drastically. Hopefully, I can mature and get better at big meets like this. I’m proud of the team. We all worked crazy hard this year.”
“He had high expectations, high goals,” Korte said of Griffin. “He was wanting to be All-State, and everybody wants to be All-State. I don’t know what was wrong with him or if anything was wrong with him, if it was just a bad day.”
“Our freshman had the best race of the day for us so that’s promising,” said Korte. “At least, he’s not going to come in next year and think there’s an intimidating situation. Some other underclassmen did fine. We’ll walk away and then be back next year.”
Girls’ Team Scores – Carmel 52, Fort Wayne Carroll 77, Columbus North 168, Zionsville 236, North Central (Indianapolis) 237, Franklin Central 269, Floyd Central 271, Valparaiso 276, Hamilton Southeastern 282, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran 303, Penn 307, Bloomington North 308, Noblesville 308, Northview 375, Franklin Community 390, Homestead 415, Jasper 416, Wheeler 420, Fishers 444, Culver Academies 445, Lake Central 468, Warsaw Community 531.
Boys’ Team Scores – Columbus North 63, Carmel 112, Brebeuf Jesuit 126, Center Grove 191, Fishers 196, Hamilton Southeastern 228, Noblesville 235, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran 257, Zionsville 301, Guerin Catholic 302, Bloomington North 335, Crown Point 344, Goshen 350, Jasper 375, Bloomington South 383, Warsaw Community 386, Chesterton 395, Penn 409, Floyd Central 423, Fort Wayne Carroll 423, Northview 541, Lake Central 558, Munster 563, Western 583.