Area cross-country runners prepare for semistate

BY EVAN MYERS | DAILY REPORTER
emyers@greenfieldreporter.com

All four Hancock County high schools will be represented at today’s cross-country semistates.

Runners from Mt. Vernon boys and girls teams will compete at the New Haven Semistate, while the Shelbyville Semistate will be attended by Greenfield-Central and New Palestine as well as one runner from Eastern Hancock’s boys team.

Greenfield-Central’s girls cross-country team placed fifth at the Rushville Regional last weekend to qualify for semistate for the first time in school history. The team was spearheaded by Sydney Cook, who placed 13th at 21 minutes, 16 seconds, and freshman Audrey Brinkruff, who took 16th in 21:28. Brinkruff currently holds the Cougars girls’ school record at 19:31.

“We’re looking to make this like a tradition to make semistate every year on the girls side, like the boys team has,” said Greenfield-Central girls head coach Scott Burton. “As far as competition level, it’s going to be a step up from what we’ve seen this year with the high-caliber teams we’ll see at the meet. So we’re hoping to end the season on that positive note, hopefully with some season-best times.”

The Cougars’ boys team also will send junior Parker Niemeier, who placed ninth at regional with a time of 17:23, and senior Zac Archibald, who took 18th at 17:43.

The New Palestine boys team placed second at regional. Dragons’ head coach Chuck Myers said that many people expressed concern that the team would take a hit this year after several strong senior athletes graduated. But despite being given some big running shoes to fill, a number of the hardworking underclassmen have proven themselves this season.

“(They) developed and they just kept working,” Myers said. “To me it wasn’t a surprise, because I saw the guys working so hard last year. They’ve stepped up and have done a great job.”

Semistate will be a brand new experience for the New Palestine girls team, except for sophomore Halley Rickey, who competed there last year. It will be a challenge that Myers said they are looking forward to today.

“The experience here is going to be really beneficial for them,” Myers said. “It will give us a chance to go in the right direction and develop, especially as our team gets older.”

Eastern Hancock senior Skylar Schrope holds the fourth-best time in school history at 17:16. The school record is 16:54, with second-place being 17:05, said Eastern Hancock coach Rex Putt. Shrope has his sights set on achieving a sub-17 time at semistate.

“This is only his second year of cross-country, so I’m impressed with him,” Putt said. “I knew he had the work ethic to be successful, and he hasn’t disappointed.”

Unlike the other county teams, Mt. Vernon’s boys and girls teams will be competing at the New Haven Semistate. Having taken dozens of teams to compete in the past, Mt. Vernon head coach Bruce Kendall said that the course narrows, which might prove to be an obstacle.

He hopes that leaders like senior Drew Bluethmann will be able to tackle the trail, helping the team to navigate the difficult terrain.

“Drew’s really good at breaking down courses, so he’s got good instincts for these things,” Kendall said. “He’s true blue, and hopes to run at Wabash next year like his father.”

The Shelbyville Semistate is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. today. The New Haven Semistate is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

At a glance

New Haven Cross-Country Semistate

Where: The Plex at IPFW

When: 1 p.m. (start time)

Who: Mt. Vernon boys and girls teams

Cost: $5 per person

Shelbyville Cross-Country Semistate

Where: Blue River Park

When: 10:30 a.m. (start time)

Who: Greenfield-Central girls team, Greenfield-Central boys individuals, New Palestine boys and girls teams, Eastern Hancock boys individual

Cost: $5 per person