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2014 Girls Cross Country Preview: New Palestine

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Coach: Daniel Weimer, 10th season

2013: 2nd at Hancock County, 3rd at Hoosier Heritage Conference, 5th at New Palestine Sectional, 19th at Carmel Semistate

Returning varsity runners

Sarah Schwartz/11, Bailey Wallace/11, Marissa Crosby/12, Mattie Waggoner/11, Meghan Reel/11, Brianna Komornik/12, Izzy Fleetwood/12, McKenzie Privette/11, Natalie Lindsay/10

Newcomers: Grace Mitchell/9, Emma Whiggington/9

Outlook: Sarah Schwartz rightfully and deservedly receives plenty of headlines when it comes to the New Palestine girls cross country team.

The junior is gunning for a third straight Hancock County championship this fall, giving her the chance to join former Eastern Hancock runners Breanna Lawyer and Shana Wyatt as three-time winners of the event. (Should Schwartz win this year, she would enter her senior season with the chance to equal Mt. Vernon’s Amye Adcock (2002-05) as the only four-time winner of the competition).

But Schwartz, who said after last year’s county meet that she deals with recurring calf issues, wasn’t able to run in the sectional, regional and semistate meets last year – so there was a void to fill atop the Dragons’ lineup.

Enter Bailey Wallace.

Wallace, a junior, was NP’s top placer in the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet (seventh), New Palestine Sectional (10th) and the Rushville Regional (19th) last fall.

“Bailey is a hard worker. She’s gotten a little better each year and she had a great finish last year,” NP coach Daniel Weimer said. “She’s a great competitor when it comes to racing. She loves to race.”

Weimer, who declined to name his top five runners, citing the earliness of the season, said Schwartz is good to go for the start of the 2014 campaign, which begins Aug. 19 for the Dragons at their own invitational.

New Palestine lost 2014 seniors Kayla Medaris and Caroline Voelz from the 2013 squad. But, in addition to Schwartz, NP returns a pair of All-HHC runners in Wallace and senior Marissa Crosby – the team’s top finisher at the Carmel Semistate – plus six additional runners with varsity experience in seniors Izzy Fleetwood and Brianna Komornik; juniors Meghan Reel, McKenzie Privette and Mattie Waggoner; and sophomore Natalie Lindsay.

In order to reclaim the county crown it lost last season to Mt. Vernon, the Dragons will likely need a healthy Schwartz, however.

“With her or any one of our runners, we want her to give her best effort and for her to represent the team, the school and the community with respect,” Weimer said.

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