Seymour girls compete in cross-country final

TERRE HAUTE

The Seymour girls cross-country team kept their plan simple for their state championship run: pick off as many competitors as possible to propel towards the front of the crowd.

Seymour made their third straight trip to the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course on Saturday in Terre Haute.

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Totaling 495 points, the Owls finished 23rd of 24 full teams on the unseasonably warm, windy day.

“We didn’t talk about times or splits this week — we just talked about going out and racing,” Seymour coach Spencer Sunbury said. “We wanted to find something within ourselves that we didn’t think we had. It was about going out and passing people and gaining as many spots as they could.”

The conditions proved to influence all the times on the day, as few runners could claim they set personal bests on the 3.1-mile course.

Carmel won their seventh straight team championship with 44 points, behind three top-six finishing runners. Carroll (Fort Wayne) were runners-up with 113 points, followed by Homestead (157), Zionsville (166) and Noblesville (245).

DeKalb junior Tyler Schwartz won the girls’ race in 18:08.6.

Seymour sophomore Ashton Chase — who finished 42nd in 2015 by timing 19:04.2 — led the Owls by clocking 19:11.8 for 33rd out of 208 runners.

“My goal was to come out really strong and not get trapped,” Chase said. “I was off by at least 30 seconds on my time. I think a lot of runners were. I don’t think a lot of runners had good (times) today.”

Sunbury was impressed with Chase’s approach to the race.

“It was a great finish for her,” he said. “She went out hard. We’ve talked about that all year long. She put herself in a position and ran hard. She didn’t have anything left by the end.”

Next for Seymour was freshman Makenna Sunbury, who timed 20:19.3 for 99th.

Owls juniors Abby Voss and Claire Loebker were the No. 3 and No. 4 runners, placing 150th and 172nd in 20:59.0 and 21:31.0.

“It was hard because there were a lot of hills and the wind was pushing against you,” said Voss, who ran in her third state meet. “It felt good to come back again this year. I knew the girls would be tougher, we just needed to put in the work at practice.”

Oriana Morales, a junior, rounded-out the scoring five in 199th by timing 22:57.0.

Freshman Grace Rennekamp ran a 23:04.1 in her first state meet and sophomore Brett Kleber finished 207th in 24:49.4.

“The freshmen ran pretty well,” Sunbury said. “We were hoping that Makenna would finish in the top-100. It’s tough for (the freshmen), racing on such a big stage. Then, you throw in the conditions and it gets a little intimidating.

“I’m sure they all would have liked to run a little faster than their times were, but I couldn’t be more happy with what they did. They came out and attacked the race and put the effort out.”

Last year, the Owls placed 13th overall at state.

Sunbury said that the team dealt with adversity well throughout the 2016 campaign.

“This team has really come together the last four or five weeks,” he said. “They’ve worked together and, individually, found out more about themselves. They put the effort out there and are serious about what they’re doing. Yeah, it might not be what we thought it might be at the start of the season but they turned it into a great season.”

With all their scorers returning, the future is bright for the girls cross-country team.

“Technically, we should have everyone — including Emma (Brock) — back next year,” Sunbury said. “I hope the girls keep that in mind. We’re going to take some time off now and relax. We’re going to enjoy ourselves and then get focused on what we need to do for next year.”

Carroll’s boys won their first-ever team championship with 71 points. Carmel got runner-up with 117 points followed by Lowell (166), Fishers (169) and Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran (173).

Oldenburg Academy senior Curtis Eckstein was individual champion in 15.13 — 26 seconds faster than the next-best time.

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Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.