Eastern Hancock aims to earn titles thanks to depth, experience
The first is obvious, they want to finish just like they started.
As freshmen, the foursome kicked off a run of three consecutive Mid-Hoosier Conference team championships for the Royals.
With a strong group of underclassmen runners, led by sophomore Annie Floyd, backing up the seniors, the recipe for success is in place for head coach Rex Putt’s program to achieve a potential four-peat.
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But why stop there, asked Putt?
“Our seniors started off their cross-country careers as freshmen as part of the first Eastern Hancock girls team to ever reach the semistate level in 2012,” he said. “They have led the domination of the Mid-Hoosier conference with team championships ever year and have made it as a team to regional every year. One thing they haven’t been able to accomplish is a county championship, and that will be one of our many lofty goals this year.”
One of two teams within Hancock County’s borders not to seize the team title since the meet first began in 1990, Eastern Hancock has watched in the past as New Palestine and Mt. Vernon have collected all 25.
Individually, the Royals have achieved greatness with Breanna Lawyer winning three straight titles from 2007-09.
If Eastern Hancock doesn’t win the team championship in 2015, they will at least be in the discussion with their starting five back after each placing in the top 60 at sectional a year ago.
Floyd proved the team’s top runner in 2014 and along with fellow classmate Liberty Durham, are a good complement to the seniors, said Putt.
“Add to that promising freshman Taylor Stine, and there is reason for optimism,” the coach said.
Floyd ran to an all-county placement as a freshman, finishing the race in 21 minutes, 49 seconds to take fifth overall.
She was fifth at conference, running the meet at 22:20.15 to lead the team. The trend continued at sectional as she backed up senior Clara Johnson with a 28th-placement and a time of 22:59.91. Johnson was 27th at 22:54.21.
At regional, she was 36th overall with a time of 22:02.11, which missed the semistate cut by less than 20 seconds.
Senior Hope Spaulding and Johnson were consistent top-place runners as the team utilized its depth and experience to rack up the points, especially at conference.
Johnson placed 8th with a 22:45.49, and Spaulding was ninth at 22:47.20.
As a group, their times routinely hovered closely at under 24:00 with senior Karlee Gray and Durham playing vital roles.
The key to maintaining their success and chasing down new ones in 2015, said Putt, will come down to conditioning and effort, which his group prides itself on.
“If we can stay healthy, this is going to be a special fall at Eastern Hancock,” he said.
Eastern Hancock opens the season Monday at the Triton Central Invitational at Blue River Park in Shelbyville.