SHELBYVILLE — On a perfect fall morning in Shelbyville, the boys and girls cross-country teams from the Hoosier Heritage Conference ran for more than a stake at the championship.
With sectionals only a week away, Saturday was the final tune-up for New Palestine, Mt. Vernon, and Greenfield-Central before the state tournament, and each team came away with positives to use in their postseason push.
In the boys race, Hancock County teams put a combined eight runners on the HHC All-Conference team. The county contingent was led by two runners from Greenfield-Central, Conner Kinnaman and Parker Niemeier, who finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Zach Archibald also claimed all-conference honors by finishing 14th with a time of 17:06 after battling an injury all season.
“Archie has been great throughout his rehab,” Greenfield-Central coach Aaron Smith said afterwards. “He’s been itching to get out there and run, and it looks like he’s rounding into shape.”
The Cougars were outpaced in the team scoring by New Palestine and Mt. Vernon, however.
Kyler Harrison (seventh), Drew Austin (10th) and Josh Collins (13th) claimed all-conference honors for the Dragons, with Devon Whitaker (21st) and Alex Mohr (29th) placed high enough to secure a second-place finish for the team.
“I thought both our boys and girls ran well today,” Dragons coach Chuck Meyers said. “Our guys have been pretty steady all year, and now they just need to get ready for the sectional and regional.”
Mt. Vernon was led by Drew Bluethmann (eighth) and Alex Carver (ninth), which coach Bruce Kendall felt positive about after the race.
“We know we are going to make it to semistate,” Kendall said. “It’s just a matter of how well we run when we get there. Our No. 1 runner didn’t even score for us today due to illness, so if he gets better I like where we’re headed.”
In the girls race, New Palestine again bested Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central and finished third overall. The Dragons were led by freshmen Brenna Shaw (second) and Kendall Mann (fourth). Mann led much of the first half of the race, helping to pace Shaw and secure a top finish of her own.
“Kendall likes to go out fast, and Brenna usually knows to stay up with her to run her best race,” Kendall said.
For Greenfield-Central, two runners earned all-conference honors. Freshman Audrey Brinkruff finished seventh and senior Sydney Cook, still battling back from injuries, finished 13th. The Cougars were sixth as a team.
The Mt. Vernon Marauders finished ahead of Greenfield-Central despite no top-15 runners. Four runners finished in the top 30 however: Kassandra Ramirez (17th), Rilee Hartman (18th), Hannah Watson (23rd), and Kamryn Eason (28th).
New Palestine and Greenfield-Central will compete in the sectional hosted by the Dragons next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Mt. Vernon will travel to Pendleton Heights for their sectional on the same day, beginning at 10 a.m.
Hoosier Heritage Conference Cross-Country Meet
Team Scores: Pendleton Heights 35, New Palestine 80, Mt. Vernon 88, Greenfield-Central 96, Shelbyville 117, Delta 141, New Castle 150, Yorktown 186.
All-Conference Team (top-15 individuals)
Milan Jones, PH;16:14
Cade Orchard, DHS;16:24
Caleb Martin, PH;16:29
Sean Roan, PH;16:30
Conner Kinnaman, GC;16:31
Parker Niemeier, GC;16:37
Kyler Harrison, NP;16:44
Drew Bluethmann, MV;16:53
Alex Carver, MV;16:59
Drew Austin, NP;17:00
Andrew Alderman, PH;17:00
Matt Baker, SHS;17:02
Josh Collins, NP;17:04
Zach Archibald, GC;17:06
Britton Adkins, NC;17:07
Team Scores: Yorktown 38, Pendleton Heights 56, New Palestine 78, Delta 86, Mt. Vernon 120, Greenfield-Central 137, Shelbyville 169, New Castle 228.
All-Conference Team (top-15 individuals)
Christina Magers, PH;19:25
Brenna Shaw, NP;19:33
Madeline Aul, YHS;19:38
Kendall Mann, NP;19:46
Indira Brown, YHS;19:52
Syd Parker, PH;20:04
Audrey Brinkruff, GC;20:30
Amberleigh Sorensen, YHS;20:35
Brandy Tuttle, DHS;20:40
Hannah Rapp, YHS;20:49
Ashleigh Brelage, DHS;20:56
Elizabeth Reece, YHS;20:59
Sydney Cook, GC;21:00
Madison McKee, PH;21:13
Sarah Whitesel, DHS;21:16