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2014 Girls Cross Country Preview: Mt. Vernon

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Coach: Bruce Kendall, 26th season

2013: 1st at Hancock County, 2nd at Hoosier Heritage Conference, 2nd at Pendleton Heights Sectional, 4th at Delta Regional, 18th at New Haven Semistate

Top 5 runners

Macie Dungan/10

Kaylee Walkey/11

Morgan Hayse/12

Samantha Gawrys/12

Elizabeth Foreman/11

Next in line: Chanise Donaldson/11, Devin Mendenhall/11, Lavon Ikalina/11

Outlook: Macie Dungan and Kaylee Walkey spearheaded quite a 2013 season for Mt. Vernon, as the program broke New Palestine’s six-year stranglehold on the Hancock County Meet; notched runner-up finishes at the Hoosier Heritage Conference and Pendleton Heights Sectional Meets; and advanced to semistate for the seventh consecutive campaign.

Dungan, now a sophomore, and Walkey, a junior, were both newcomers to the Marauders last fall. After last season’s county triumph, longtime coach Bruce Kendall said Dungan, Walkey and fellow newbie Leah Chaves – a fixture in MV’s top five in 2013 – were just finding out how good they can be.

After placing second and third, respectively, at county, Dungan and Walkey went on to post top-20 finishes at HHC (Walkey fifth; Dungan 13th), sectional (Walkey eighth, Dungan 13th) and the Delta Regional (Dungan 11th, Walkey 19th).

Kendall was impressed with the duo’s 2013 performance, but his enthusiasm remains tempered as the 2014 campaign approaches.

“Didn’t see Dungan and Walkey leading meets last year, but athletes are athletes so given time they show through,” Kendall said. “(But) neither had a track season – Dungan played softball and Walkey was sidelined from an injury a year ago so each has had a lot of time not running.

“We are hoping and confident we can get them back to level by late in the season. They are both very strong and hard workers.”

Senior Morgan Hayse has been a steady contributor for Kendall her entire career, and comes back after an impressive junior season: fourth at county, 12th at HHC, 10th at sectional, 14th at regional and 63rd at the New Haven Semistate, one spot behind Dungan.

Hayse is firmly entrenched with Dungan and Walkey in the Marauders’ top three, especially with the departures of Chaves (now an exchange student in Japan) and Samantha Sanders (graduation, now running for Olivet (Illinois) Nazarene University).

“Hayse will have a great year,” Kendall said. “She is a beast.”

In line to replace Chaves and Sanders are senior Samantha Gawrys and junior Elizabeth Foreman.

“Gawrys and Foreman really have never had a lot of chances to shine so they are the great X-factor,” Kendall said.

Juniors Chanise Donaldson, Devin Mendenhall and Lavon Ikalina round out the Marauders’ team, which visits Fishers for a tri-meet with Brownsburg on Aug. 18 to begin their 2014 campaign.

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