Girls cross country looks for berth in state meet

Mya Jones, Staff Writer

Tomorrow, the girls cross country team competes at the Shelbyville Semi State at Blue River Cross-Country Course. After a disappointing performance in sectionals two weeks ago where CG finished as the runner-up, the team bounced back last Saturday to win regionals. This weekend, the team is focused on securing a top-six finish, which would advance them to the state meet for the first time since 2012.

According to freshman Elizabeth Madden and senior Sadie Schemmel, this bounce back was all due to a changed mindset. Going into sectionals, the girls were more focused on times and winning, whereas in regionals, the center of attention was simply catching the girl ahead. 

“[Coach Wes] Dodson wrote specific targets for us to reach for – like someone who was right in front of you or a couple places in front of you to beat that’s reasonable,” Madden said. “For me, there was a girl who kept out-striding me, so my goal was to focus on beating her.”

With a new racing focus, the team was able to beat second-place Batesville by six points and Franklin Community, who won the sectional title the week before, by 11 points. 

“We were striving to be better than we were. Sometimes you need that loss to give you that fire,” Schemmel said. 

While that strategy worked for regionals, the larger field of runners makes that more difficult this weekend.

“Last week I gave each girl a person to beat. That’s harder to do in a field of 180 rather than a field of 70. So this week, the goal is to just keep racing and to keep passing as you go, rather than focusing on time,” Dodson said. 

After winning county for the 20th year in a row during the last week of the regular season, the team was disappointed in their sectional performance, using that as motivation last weekend.

“We wanted to show the opponents and everyone else that we were the better team. Losing sectionals hurt our pride, and we felt the need to prove people wrong.” Madden said. 

After resting last week, freshman Lara Phipps will be back in the line up this week. With a season best time of 19:38, Phipps is another runner capable of breaking 20 minutes. This will be key for Center Grove as they face their toughest competition of the season, keying in on MIC rivals North Central and Pike, along with Noblesville, Batesville and Westfield.

“She’s a great runner and although we don’t necessarily rely on her, obviously an extra runner gives us wiggle room, and she’ll only help,” Schemmel said. 

Even with Phipps back in competition, Dodson is sure that tomorrow’s success does not rest on the shoulders of just one runner. Along with Schemmel, Phipps and Madden, the team will rely on front-runners Lilly Brunsman and Bella Hodges, as well as Hudson Gilstorf and Lauren Todd. While only the top five runners count for the team score, the final two runners are crucial, as they can place ahead of other team’s fourth and fifth place runners.

“I think the key is that everyone runs a good race. It can’t just be one person.” Dodson said. 

However, Dodson wants to be sure the girls are confident in their potential individually and as a whole, as he believes this self-trust is essential to success. 

“I’m trying to instill in the girls to run the same race they normally run. They can’t change the way they run just because it’s a big race. We’re good enough to make it [to state]. We don’t have to be better than we are.” 

To Schemmel, the lone senior running tomorrow, making state would be the perfect way to close out her last season of high school cross country.

“It would be awesome to make it to state my senior year. Two years ago we had kind of hoped to make it, but looking at the times we knew it wasn’t very realistic, whereas this year we actually have a good shot,” Schemmel said. “It would be so great to finish out my high school career by being part of a team that made it to state.”