Tense spell worth the wait for state-bound Cats

From Herald Staff Reports

After finishing the day and tallying the scores in Saturday’s semistate at Brown County, the Jasper girls cross country team knew it would be close.

The Wildcats were up against a massive field, featuring three teams ranked in the state’s top 20. But when the Cats finally heard the results — a sixth-place finish guaranteeing them a spot in Saturday’s state finals at Terre Haute — all that worry and tension melted into an elated celebration.

“They just went crazy,” said Jasper assistant coach Kathy Overton, who filled in as head coach Kevin Schipp attended a friend’s wedding. “It’s what they’ve been working for all year long, and they were really excited about it.”

Jasper (203) points narrowly trumped Evansville Memorial (207) for the last state qualifying slot while No. 2 Columbus North (38), No. 14 Bloomington South (98) and No. 17 Terre Haute North (115) took the top three spots and Northeast Dubois (350) and Forest Park (399) finished 12th and 16th, respectively.

The Wildcat boys finished 18th in the 20-team field.

For Jasper’s girls, competitive performances from top to bottom boosted the Cats to their fifth state finals appearance and first since 2006.

“The girls were definitely ready for that race, they were pumped up, ready to go,” Overton said. “We had a couple that maybe didn’t run their best race, but the others made up for it, and that’s what team is all about.”

In a field with over 150 runners, freshman Tara Cassidy (19:29) led the Wildcats with a 17th-place finish, followed closely by Hannah Welsh (19:34) at 20th. Rachael Welsh (20:33) came in next for the Cats at 60th, and Sydney Berger (91st, 21:09) and Noelle Weyer (65th, 20:40) rounded out the Cats’ top five.

Overton pointed at two first-year runners in Cassidy and Rachael Welsh as two girls whose gutty finishes may have catapulted the Wildcats into the finals.

“At the end, (Cassidy) probably passed four girls, and that may have been part of the difference,” she said. “Also, Rachael Welsh stepped up again, she passed some girls at the end of the race. She really had a good race.”

On the boys side, Cale Kilian paced the Wildcats with a 17:12, 70th-place finish, just one second off his personal best this season. Kyle Knies finished four seconds later at 75th and Caleb Dosch (134th), Donald Bough (137th) and Clayton Traylor (142nd) made up the top five Jasper runners.

Forest Park junior Trey Dooley (16:48) and Northeast Dubois senior Luke Kerstiens (16:50), who both ran as individuals, finished within seconds of each other in for 47th and 50th, respectively.

Pacing Forest Park’s girls team were Nicole Rahman (20:57) and Amy Troesch (20:59) at 80th and 82nd, respectively. Latesha Merkel (20:02) was the top finisher for Northeast Dubois at 35th, followed by Rachel Breitwieser (88th), Jessica Kahle (104th) and Ashton Knies (109th).

Three Southridge runners competed in the meet as individuals. Aubrey Main (20:26) finished 52nd and Casey Lamb (21:16) and Lauren Meyer (21:40) took 99th and 126th, respectively.

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