For The Daily Reporter

TERRE HAUTE — With thousands of miles logged, countless ribbons collected and one ticket to the grand stage, everything led up to a final race for Jacob Hansen.

It was finally his time to run alongside the best in Indiana.

The Greenfield-Central senior got a shot at the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Meet on Saturday, taking to the field of 206 at Terre Haute’s famed LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.

Hansen timed 17 minutes 24.5 seconds in the 3.1 miles race to claim 129th in an unseasonably warm, windy competition.

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“It didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I left everything out there I could on the course,” Hansen said. “The heat challenged everyone today. It didn’t work out the way I had hoped, but I still made it.”

On the first kilometer, Hansen was toward the very front of the pack in 3:02.

While he started off with the strongest kilometer, Hansen felt that the second was even better even though it was in 3:21.

“I think my strongest was my second (kilometer) because I hadn’t really hit my wall yet,” Hansen said. “That’s where I felt like I was going very hard.”

The Cougars hadn’t sent a runner to state since 1989 (Gary Holt) before Hansen took to the mark on Saturday. Holt set the program’s fastest 5K at 15:23.

“It’s just an honor to be able to run here,” Hansen said. “I’ve been given this gift to be able to run and lay my guts out on the course. Just being able to be the guy that breaks the drought is an honor.

“I’m really proud of my team for supporting me and thankful for them and my coach for helping me to get here.”

Hanson finished the year as the Hancock County individual champion, individual runner-up in the Hoosier Heritage Conference and both a sectional and regional champion.

He will graduate as the second-fastest Cougar boys cross country runner at 15:46.3, which he posted at the Shelbyville Semistate to qualify for state. He ran a 15:58 earlier this season also securing the third-fastest 5K in program history.

Oldenburg Academy senior Curtis Eckstein was individual champion in 15.13 — 26 seconds faster than the next-best time.

Fort Wayne Carroll’s boys won their first-ever team championship with 71 points. Carmel got runner-up with 117 points followed by Lowell (166), Fishers (169) and Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran (173).

On the girls’ side, Carmel won their seventh straight team championship with 44 points. Carroll were runners-up with 113 points, followed by Homestead (157), Zionsville (166) and Noblesville (245).

DeKalb junior Tyler Schwartz won the girls’ race in 18:08.6.