The Seymour girls cross-country team is here to stay.
Following an impressive third-place finish at the Brown County semistate, the Owls exceeded expectations by moving up six places from last year’s state meet to finish 13th of 24 teams.
While most teams now find themselves in a rebuilding phase, the Owls will just reload in 2016.
They won’t get worse — they will get even better.
Six of the seven runners at the state meet were underclassmen, with five sophomores and two freshman in the mix.
Ashton Chase was the sixth fastest freshman in the race, leading the Owls at 19:04.2 for 42nd place.
How impressive is that?
To finish in the top-50 at state, as a freshman, is an incredible feat.
The core sophomore class of Emma Brock, Claire Loebker, Oriana Morales and Abby Voss now have two state meets under their belt.
All the pre-race nerves are gone for those girls. They know what they’re up against and how to attack the course and succeed.
Freshman Brett Kleber, who made her first state appearance, also has a taste for the big show.
The biggest loss for the Owls will be the graduation of the senior class.
This year’s group of seniors, especially Megan Winter and Maya Hauersperger, led the young squad on and off the course.
From what I’m told by the crazed cross-country community, which is as tight-knitted as they come, stronger runners will just keep coming up to the high school to run for varsity coach Spencer Sunbury.
Parents, coaches and the kids in Seymour are fully committed to building a running feeder system for the boys and girls.
Brad Cobb and Jennifer Hildreth have commanded the middle school program and South Central Indiana Running Club, taking the initiative to mold better student athletes in preparation for high school.
Outside the middle school season, Kids ages 7 to 14 will again compete in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in December through the club.
That meet in December gets the kids ready for high school by competing against some of the best runners in the country.
And it doesn’t stop there.
This past fall, for the first time, there was an EXCL Elementary Cross Country League in Seymour.
If you ventured out to Freeman Field for any of the three races, you would have seen nearly 300 kids from all the local Elementary Schools running cross-country races.
Kids are learning to love to run early and are building relationships with their teammates that will carry through their high school years.
Jordan Morey is the sports editor of The Tribune. Send comments to email@example.com.