For the Daily Reporter
SHELBYVILLE — Greenfield-Central’s objective at Saturday’s boys cross-country semistate was a top 10 finish in the team standings.
Cougars’ senior Jacob Hansen knew it was just a matter of times.
Finishing 18th beneath cloudless skies at Blue River Park in Shelbyville, Hansen qualified as an individual for Saturday’s state finals in Terre Haute. At the same time, Hansen’s time of 15:46.3 is second-fastest in program history.
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As a team, Greenfield-Central accomplished what it set out to do by tying Franklin Community for ninth-place.
“I feel like we did well,” said Hansen, the first Cougars boys runner since Gary Horn in 1989 to make the State Finals. “We had four guys break 17 (minutes) and I broke 16, so I think that was the fastest our school has ever been.
“At the start I just sort of look around and think, ‘I’ve been doing this as long as anyone out here. Maybe longer. We’ve all been preparing for the same thing.’ It’s just a matter of who goes out there and has the most guts.’ ”
New Palestine, which was coming off first-place at its own sectional and the Rushville Regional, also landed in the top 10. Senior Caleb Eagleson’s 33rd-place effort and classmate Samuel Voelz coming in 59th propelled the Dragons to eighth-place overall.
With only the top six teams moving on to state, Dragons coach Chuck Myers knew his squad had its work cut out. After all, six of the top 11 programs in the latest state rankings also converged upon Blue River Park.
“I thought we ran pretty well today. We had one runner under 16 minutes (Eagleson’s 15:57.8), and our fifth guy was around 17:05,” Myers said. “A pretty good day, but it is a challenge coming to this semistate.
“It is tough because sometimes the kids see teams they’ve beaten during the season advance out of another semistate. It is challenging, but that’s the way cross country is set up, so you’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt.”
While it would have been a landmark occasion for Greenfield-Central to make it to the State Finals as a team for the first time in school history, advancing a runner for the first time in 27 seasons makes for quite the memorable consolation prize.
A fast track, fast field and ideal weather played into Hansen’s hands.
“We knew this was a fast course, and Jacob wanted to make it to state. Everybody individually ran really well,” Cougars coach Aaron Miller said. “Most of the guys in our top five, only one didn’t have a PR.
“We knew the (ranked teams) were going to be up there, so we were just trying to shoot for the top 10 team-wise. That was the goal.”
Representing Hancock County in the girls semistate were Greenfield-Central junior Sydney Cook and New Palestine freshman Haley Rickey.
Cook, who advanced by way of a 20th-place finish at the Rushville Regional, came in 140th at semistate in a time of 21:26.6. Hickey wasn’t far behind on Saturday, coming in 148th in 21:53.3.