CONNERSVILLE – The Hagerstown and New Castle High School cross country teams advanced runners to this coming Saturday’s Rushville regional as a result of performances in Saturday’s sectional held at Connersville High School.
The Tigers will have both their boys’ and girls’ complete teams running at Rushville, while the Trojans will send a complete girls’ team plus three boy runners who qualified as individuals.
Weather conditions at Connersville for Saturday’s sectional were very mild for the ninth day of October, with temperatures around 70 degrees at the start and a light breeze blowing.
Northeastern was team champion with 66 points, nipping second place Hagerstown’s 68 for the trophy. Rushville was third with 97, followed by Richmond 108, and Centerville 109. Those five schools will field complete teams at the Rushville regional.
New Castle was sixth with 141, followed, in order, by Cambridge City Lincoln 187, Franklin County 187, host Connersville 209, and Union County 285.
Seton Catholic, Tri, and Knightstown did not have the minimum five runners needed for a team score.
The boys were the first to take to the course. New Castle senior Andrew Fewell took the lead at the start and led much of the early half of the race.
Fewell eventually was passed by Centerville senior Mylan Nocton, who won the boys race with a time of 17:21.7. Fewell finished second 15.7 seconds behind Nocton with a time of 17:37.4.
“I would have liked to have won,” Fewell said after his race, “but I finished second and am happy with my time. I like running in conditions like this. The course was muddy in places, but that’s what you have to expect in a cross country race.”
Trojan senior Skyler Dickey ran close to the leaders the entire race and finished fourth with a time of 17:50.4, which was 6.2 seconds behind the 17:44.2 posted by third-place Chase Cates, a junior from Northeastern.
“I felt good, ran well, and had a good first mile,” Dickey said after his race, “but I fell back a little after that. I attempted to overtake the Northeastern guy and couldn’t, but I wanted to make sure the Rushville kid didn’t pass me. I was hoping for a 17:30 because this is a slow course, but I’m happy with my time. The only problems I had were with the mud and the hills.”
New Castle sophomore Harry Calloway managed to maneuver through the course with a time of 20:08.6 to finish 38th overall and claim the 10th and final individual spot to qualify for a regional berth. He will join teammates Fewell and Dickey at Rushville.
Other times and placing for the Trojan boys were sophomore Colten Lawson 44th (20:39.8), freshman Vincent Salerno 58th (23:07.6), and senior Joshua McCune 66th (26:26.6).
“We projected our boys would finish fifth or sixth and it would be close,” New Castle Head Coach Andy Carter said. “Andrew and Skyler definitely did their part and Harry and Colten ran good races.”
Hagerstown’s top five runners on the day finished in the top 25 for its solid second-place team finish. The Tigers were led by junior Quaid Mull, who finished sixth overall with a time of 18:12.2, followed by senior Quentin Osborne, who placed eighth with a time of 18:19.0.
“I felt I ran a good race today,” Mull said, “and I think our whole team ran well. It was hotter today than it was last year, and considering that I was pleased with my time. I prefer cooler weather to run, but you have to be ready to run in any conditions. I hope our entire team makes it to semi-state this year.”
Other Hagerstown finishers and their times were senior Joseph Auker 13th (18:52.4), junior Carter Jenkins 17th (19:02.2), sophomore Kaden Young 25th (19:18.5), senior Nolan Brown 28th (19:22.7), and senior Ryan Hill 41st (20:21.7).
“I was proud of our boys today,” Hagerstown Coach Kent Gray remarked afterward. “This was our best performance this year, but wasn’t quite enough to overtake Northeastern for first place. I like our chances to make the semi-state as a team if we run at the regional like we did today. I was especially proud of Nolan Brown. Here’s a kid that couldn’t play football anymore because of concussion issues, has turned himself into a cross country runner, and just keeps getting better and better.”
Tri’s lone runner, freshman Nathan Carmichael, finished 46th overall with a time of 20:50.1.
Knightstown had a trio of sophomore boy runners competing on Saturday. Abraham Wilson led the way by finishing 50th with a time of 21:03.0. Noah Wilson placed 64th (25:33.3) and Daniel Wilson 69th (27:51.1).
Centerville was team champion with 37 points, which was 11 points better than New Castle, which finished second with 48. Richmond was third with 54 and Rushville fourth at 100.
It was a close battle for fifth place, and Hagerstown got it with 150 points, just a point better than sixth-place Union County’s 151.
As a result, the Bulldogs, Trojans, Red Devils, Lions, and Tigers will send their complete girls’ teams to the Rushville regional.
Knightstown, Cambridge City Lincoln, Seton Catholic, Northeastern, Franklin County, and host Connersville did not have the minimum five runners for a team score. Tri had no girl runners.
In the individual race, New Castle junior Lydia Harvey led during the early part of the race with several other girls in close proximity. Harvey eventually slipped behind a trio of other runners.
New Castle junior Ella Garvin and Centerville junior Chloe Scales gradually slipped away from the other runners and battled for the lead.
Down the stretch and near the finish, Garvin passed Scales with a burst of speed to win the girls race in 21:22.0, which was 3.1 seconds ahead of Scales, who placed second in 21:25.1.
“It feels great to be champion,” Garvin remarked after her race. “I definitely didn’t think I would win, but I hoped to stay near the front of the pack the entire race and perhaps finish second. It’s definitely the best I’ve run here.”
Garvin talked about her strategy to become a sectional champion.
“About the 4K mark, there was Lydia, the Centerville girl, and me in a pack,” Garvin continued. “I surged past Lydia and then went after the Centerville girl. I managed to catch and pass her near the end. The warm conditions didn’t bother me, and I’m really happy how I’ve recovered from my injury that kept me from running earlier in the season.”
Coach Carter was quite happy for Garvin.
“Ella is a competitor,” Carter said, “and it’s actually a pleasant surprise, not a shock, that she won. With 400 meters left, I was pretty sure the Centerville girl would win, then I got over to the finish line later and found out Ella had won. She has recovered nicely from her stress fracture, did water running for five weeks, and she has that kick from running track that really helps.”
Cambridge City Lincoln senior Bailey Puckett finished third in 21:50.8, and Harvey was 1.9 seconds behind Puckett, placing fourth with a time of 21:52.7.
“It wasn’t the finish I wanted,” Harvey said after her race. “I trained really hard during the week, and the course was hilly in some places and slick in spots. But fourth isn’t bad. I plan to train hard next week for the regional and hope I can get to the semi-state again.”
Other times and finishes for the New Castle girls were junior Savannah Kernel 17th (23:51.2), sophomore Sydney Mathews 19th (24:08.3), freshman Catherine Willis 20th (24:09.1), senior Jamie Kernel 42nd (28:23.2), and sophomore Shelby Nichols 45th (29:48.5).
“We were pretty confident our girls would move on,” Coach Carter added. “Lydia has been battling some issues with asthma that warm and humid conditions don’t help. Savannah ran a nice race to finish 17th and Sydney gutted out 19th place despite issues with her knees.”
Hagerstown was led by junior Ava Moore, who crossed the finish line in 26th place with a time of 24:47.5.
The rest of the Tiger girls ran in a pack. Senior Taylor Pass finished 37th (26:51.5), sophomore Logan Klein 38th (27:01.0), junior Jenna Smith 39th (27:02.8), freshman Zoe Meek 43rd (28:24.9), and junior Delaney Oliger 46th (30:58.6).
“Our girls were kind of average today,” Coach Gray added, “but were helped by the fact there were just six complete teams running.”
Knightstown senior Molly Cupp finished her high school cross country career by placing 47th with a time of 31:08.8.