Everything has led up to this race.
In their final meet of the 2015 Hoosier Cross Country Grand Prix, the South Central Indiana Running Club — based in Seymour — performed well, and it will now get ready for the Junior Olympics next week in Columbus at Ceraland Park.
On Saturday, SCIRC hosted its first-ever “Seymour Classic” to conclude their regular season.
“There are nearly 175 kids running today; we have 35 from Seymour,” said SCIRC president and girls coach Jennifer Hildreth. “It has grown. This is the first year for the Classic, and we have tons of cross-country parents and volunteers who’ve made this happen.
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“This is the last race of the series (Grand Prix), and the winner of each age group (based on points) will get a jacket.”
Hildreth said that the program has grown tremendously since 2014.
“This year we’ve had a lot more of the younger kids,” Hildreth said. “A couple years ago we had more middle school kids. We have seven-year-olds and up doing the series.”
At the Columbus race, runners have to place in the top 30 as an individual or be on one of the top three teams in their age division to qualify for regionals — which involve Region 7 teams.
Region 7 includes the top qualifiers from all of Illinois and Indiana.
Runners who finish in the top 30 at the region race or participate on one of the top-three teams, can qualify for the national race in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in December.
In 2014, SCIRC sent 14 individuals — including one team of seven girls ages 13 and 14 — to the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Carly Kaiser, age 10, who is running her second year in the club, has enjoyed the races this past fall.
“I think I’m doing really good,” she said. “If I keep on (setting personal bests) like I’ve been doing, it’d be great. I think I’ll do good if I believe in myself, and with all my teammates cheering me on, I’ll do really good.”
Kaiser believes she has a good chance in placing in the top 30 at the state meet next week.
Jude Bane, 10, said, “I’ve been running for a year and a half. I wanted to beat my record, but I didn’t today.” Bane has run three of the five races this year and wants to run again next year.
Immanuel Lutheran fourth-grader Vivienne Siefker also said she will run in Columbus next week and looks forward to her second year at the event.
Brad Cobb, who coaches the SCIRC boys team, is confident in his runners moving forward.
“(The Seymour Classic) gets them ready for the state association race, and then regionals and national,” he said. “Right now we have two kids that are leading the state in their age division, and we have one who is second in their age group, so we’ll see how she does today, whether she’ll pass the girl she’s trailing”
“Next week you’ll have to qualify to move to the next race, and it gets a little more serious: it becomes the Junior Olympics. Our regional race in two weeks, involves all of Illinois and Indiana’s qualifiers. At the state race level (next week) we’ll have 200 kids in each race, and some races will have 300 kids.”
Coach Cobb had six boys qualify for regional last year, and five of those went on to the national race.