With the team title came an individual champion in Morgan Hayse, the first Marauder since Mandy Bode in 2011 to win.
The accolades didn’t stop there, however, as coach Bruce Kendall’s group powered to a third-place finish at the Pendleton Heights Sectional, were fourth at Delta regional and advanced to the New Haven semistate where they finished 19th.
Hayse is now gone, graduating this past spring, but the Marauders won’t be shorthanded in 2015 as three of the team’s top six sectional runners are back. Leading the group will be junior Erin Lyday, who took second at county a year ago.
Lyday was 21st overall at the sectional, running in 22 minutes, 47.11 seconds. At county, her time was 21:15.10, and at regional she kept her mile pace at around 7:03 to finish under 22 minutes.
Kendall will rely on Lyday’s experience along with seniors Kaylee Walkey (33rd at sectional), Chanise Donaldson (25th), Elizabeth Foresman (37th) and Chelsea Foster to lead more than a dozen runners on the roster.
“We have 15 girls out, and they are all fairly good,” Kendall said. “We will have to win by committee, it will be fun to see who rises through the season.”
More enjoyable will be accomplishing their goals, which remain unchanged.
First, the Marauders want to defend their county title. Second, the team is determined to challenge Pendleton Heights, Shelbyville and Yorktown for the HHC crown. Finally, and most important, they need to peak in the postseason.
“The girls have a great shot at going to their eighth straight semistate,” Kendall said.
Oddly enough, Mt. Vernon has achieved the feat without winning a single sectional or regional team title in its history.
A big reason for that trend is the tournament competition the team faces year in and year out.
In the recent past Pendleton Heights has won sectional four straight years and six of the past seven.
At regional, the Arabians have dominated as well, winning four consecutive.
Typically, schools from the northeast region of the state take control at the semistate.
“We have an easier than most semistate for boys, but not for girls where Ft. Wayne is the toughest of the four,” Kendall explained. “Just a brutal place recently.”
The Marauders are hopeful they can contend this postseason behind a solid core group and abundant depth to fill in where needed.
As Kendall expressed, “we have so many new runners it is hard to tell (who will complete our five).”
MT. VERNON MARAUDERS
Coach: Bruce Kendall, 27th season
2014: 1st at County, 4th at Hoosier Heritage Conference, 3rd at Pendleton Heights Sectional, 4th at Delta Regional, 19th at New Haven Semistate.
Top Projected Runners (grade)
Erin Lyday (11)
Kaylee Walkey (12)
Elizabeth Foreman (12)
Chelsea Foster (12)
Other potential contributors: Addison Cullom (9), Leah Chaves (12), Chanise Donaldson (12), Andrea Maynard (10), Devin Mendenhall (12), Kassy Ramirez (11), Nicole Siefker (11), Hannah Watson (10), Karis Witte (10), Reagan Woodruff (9).
Outlook: The Marauders once again found themselves ahead of the pack last season, winning county as a team for a second consecutive season.