Patriot pair joins Wildcats, Rangers at semistate

By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer

MARENGO — From Hannah Welsh shivering to Sienna Crews enduring a headache, it was clear Saturday’s cross country regional sapped just about all the energy from local runners. But not everything.

Crews

Welsh (20:01) finished fifth overall, helping Jasper’s girls team place fifth and advance to this Saturday’s semistate at Brown County. Forest Park’s boys team also moved on, navigating the course for a fourth-place showing.

Heritage Hills advanced a pair of individual runners in Crews and Ben Woolems.

Crews (18:31) topped the girls field, recording a personal-best time that left her woozy; Woolems (16:10) finished runner-up in the boys race.

Perry Central (68 points) claimed the boys team title, with Borden (80), North Harrison (111), Forest Park (129) and Floyd Central (134) following. The top five teams in each meet qualified for semistate. Heritage Hills (149) placed seventh and Northeast Dubois (206) came in 10th.

In the girls race, Floyd Central (43) finished at the top, ahead of Perry Central (96), New Albany (96), North Harrison (114) and Jasper (127). Heritage Hills (145) placed sixth, Forest Park (158) registered a seventh-place showing and Northeast Dubois (219) came in ninth.

Woolems

A pair of local runners barely missed qualifying individually, as Heritage Hills’ Devon Merder and Southridge’s Casey Lamb each finished 16th in the boys and girls races, respectively. The top 15 individuals in each division moved on.

Lamb advanced to regional as an individual, as did teammate Jayme Lindauer, who finished 37th in the girls meet.

As the girls race started around 10:30 a.m., temperatures hovered in the low 50s, colder than what Welsh, a freshman, had anticipated.

“I had really a problem breathing after a while and I kept gasping and couldn’t stop,” said Welsh, who added she wished she had followed her mom’s advice and worn a long-sleeve shirt. “It was bad.”

But on the second and final lap she settled in, she said, ensuring she met her goal of finishing in the top 15.

Crews, meanwhile, finished second a year ago. But this season she made an adjustment, actually ate breakfast and persevered thanks to her grandma’s monkey bread.

“Last year I went out too hard and I was going to make sure to not do that this year,” Crews said. “I also wanted to make sure I also ate some, because last year I didn’t really eat, because I was too nervous. I just tried to keep focused and positive.”

Crews received additional support by hearing her mom, Kathleen, cheering during the second lap.

“I heard my mom yelling from way, way across the field, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do this.’ It’s her birthday. It’s my mom’s birthday. So happy birthday, Mom.”

Similar to Crews, Woolems felt drained after coming in behind North Harrison’s Jonathan Reynolds, who finished nearly 21 seconds ahead of Woolems.

“The main thing was my legs are still pretty tired,” Woolems said more than an hour after finishing. “I think there’s more to come for me in the next few weeks. I think I can exceed what I did today and maybe get a little closer to Reynolds in the closing weeks.”

Berger

It was anyone’s guess whether Jasper’s girls team was going to advance. Sydney Berger, who finished 23rd for the Wildcats, characterized the team’s chances as 50-50. Jasper coach Kevin Schipp wasn’t sure, either. When he saw the results, he did his best acting job, not showing excitement in case his team was watching from the stands. After the sixth-place team was announced — teams were announced starting from 10th — Berger looked at her teammates with a look of half-surprise, half-joy.

“We really wanted it because we got it last year, so just giving the freshman girls that experience and the seniors, we wanted them to go with us, too,” Berger said. “We’re really happy.”

Jasper’s usual No. 2 runner, Luci Hulsman, fell down within the first half-mile. It particularly hurt the Wildcats because Berger typically runs with Hulsman, using her as a gauge. With that not possible, Berger adjusted, Schipp said. And Hulsman stayed focused to still provide a 31st-place finish. Lauren Rennie (41st) and Madison Dorsam (42nd) “also stepped up to pick us up to get this score to move on,” Schipp said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

“It just tells you they’re mentally tough and she’s worked hard to get to where she is,” the Jasper coach added of Berger. “She’s a tough girl. She puts more miles in, extra time in the weight room, all that stuff. Very proud of her, she did good.”

For Forest Park’s boys, Trey Dooley led the team with a 14th-place finish at 17:03. Cody Flamion came in 23rd, Clayton Meyer crossed the line in 35th, Keith Hurst followed close after in 38th and Conner Bolte finished 43rd.

Dooley

“We still haven’t run that great race that I’m waiting for them to run,” Forest Park coach Philip Wolf said. “I think we’re running right at good enough to get by and I think we’ve got more in the tank than what we’re showing."

“I liked the beginning of the race,” Dooley added. “I’m not a fan of hills but I’m OK on them and going over the big hill back there, I pushed but I didn’t get passed so that’s all that matters.”

After unexpectedly not qualifying for regional after an injury to its No. 1 runner at sectional, the Southridge girls team still made the trip to Marengo. Southridge coach Leslie Denu said Lamb, a freshman, was predictably distraught over missing a semistate berth by so little — she finished 6.8 seconds behind the 15th-place runner — but Denu added Lamb is already looking forward to next season.

Despite not advancing either squad, Northeast Dubois met its charge in the first year of its two-year plan. Jeep coach Vic Betz said Saturday that when the team began the year, the goal was to advance to regional this season and to semistate next year.

Betz was especially pleased with Shyann Seng (32nd) and Aubrey Knies, a freshman who finished 54th. Both made significant progress as the season went on, said Betz, whose team was without No. 1 runner Latesha Merkel (attended brother’s wedding) and No. 3 runner Rachel Breitwieser (illness). Kelli Reutman finished 53rd for the Jeeps despite having severe anemia at times throughout the season. She had to have her heart rate constantly monitored, and occasionally had no oxygen-carrying capability and a low red-blood count.

“In terms of the entire season, we started out pretty slow and wow, did we make progress this year,” Betz exclaimed. “Our goal was to make it to regional and to see them make it — boy, that’s tough, you have to prove yourself in sectional and prove it again at regional — we were very, very happy to be there.”
 
Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com.




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