NEW PALESTINE — It wasn’t her best time, but New Palestine freshman Brenna Shaw wasn’t complaining. Not when the only thing between her and the finish line was open field.
Finishing in a time of 20 minutes, 48.7 seconds at New Palestine High School on Tuesday, Shaw captured her first individual Hancock County girls cross-country championship title en route to a Dragons clean sweep.
Prior to the girls race, the New Palestine boys won both the individual and team titles. Shaw and her teammates made it 4-for-4.
“It’s about 50 seconds off, but it was humid today,” Shaw remarked on her compared to her personal best this season. “Usually, I feel pretty good after a race, but today, I felt a little lightheaded afterwards. I think the humidity and the heat took a toll on me.”
With the sun beating down on the runners, temperatures reached the mid-80s, the air was thick and the grounds ran sluggish after heavy rains the night beforehand.
Shaw overcame the elements and her teammates followed suit as New Palestine placed seven in the top 15 for All-County honors. Four runners finished in the top five with freshman Kendall Mann taking second in 20:59.01.
Junior Grace Voelz was fourth in 22:38.71 behind Greenfield-Central freshman Audrey Brinkruff in 21:42.64. Sophomore Haley Rickey placed fifth in 22:47.94.
Shaw was coming off a third-place finish during the FlashRock Invitational in Carmel on Saturday. She posted a 20:22.05 with Mann a few steps back in 20:55.32.
“They’ve both stepped in and done a great job right out of junior high,” New Palestine head coach Chuck Myers said. “Brenna always goes out hard, and Kendall isn’t far behind, and then she goes out and catches her. They battle it out to see who will win the race.”
The duo once again led the pack for the Dragons as they’ve done all season.
“We push each other a lot. We’re friends, so we have a good relationship. We push each other in practice,” Shaw said. “I think it would be really hard to do this without her.”
A surging Sydney Cook was an additional motivator for Shaw. Cook, the two-time defending county champion for Greenfield-Central, challenged early, but was limited during the race due to a mild knee injury.
The senior finished 22nd at 26:38.38, turning around nearly 15 feet from the finish line to run back and encourage her teammate, Brenna Ditto, a junior, who came in 23rd.
“(Cook) had a little bit of an injury, so we used today more as a workout,” Greenfield-Central girls coach Scott Burton said. “The whole team right now is sort of running through injury, so we’re looking to get healthy by conference, and definitely by sectional to make a tournament run, hopefully.”
The Cougars, who won the team title last year, had two runners place in the top 15 with Sarah Muckerheide joining Brinkruff with an eighth-place run.
Mt. Vernon had four on the All-County team, led by sophomore Rilee Hartman in sixth at 22:58.73. Kassandra Ramirez was seventh in 23:08.20.
Eastern Hancock’s top runner was Annie Floyd, a senior, who finished ninth in 23:35.66. Liberty Dunham was 11th.
The Dragons won the team championship — their second in three years — with 22 points, followed by Mt. Vernon with 55. Greenfield-Central was third with 73, and Eastern Hancock was fourth with 89.
“A lot of people don’t think cross country is a team sport because it’s a lot of individual efforts, but it is a team sport,” said Shaw, who attended Doe Creek a year ago. “It’s about pushing each other and help the team.”
Hancock County Cross Country Meet
Team Scores: New Palestine 22, Mt. Vernon 55, Greenfield-Central 73, Eastern Hancock 89
All-County Team (top-15 individuals)
Brenna Shaw, NP 20:48.70
Kendall Mann, NP 20:59.01
Audrey Brinkruff, GC 21:42.64
Grace Voelz, NP 23:38.71
Haley Rickey, NP 22:47.94
Rilee Hartman, MV 22:58.73
Kassandra Ramirez, MV 23:08.20
Sarah Muckerheide, GC 23:23.44
Annie Floyd, EH 23:35.66
Sophia Taylor, NP 23:37.69
Liberty Dunham, EH 23:54.33
Kamryn Eason, MV 24:00.92
Addison Westrate, NP 24:10.31
Hannah Watson, MV 24:13.96
Maigan Williams, NP 24:31.43