Boys cross country advances to State with second place finish, Bella Hodges advances with 11th place finish


S. Findley

Senior Bella Hodges runs during semistate at Blue River Cross Country course.

Sam Findley, Sports Editor

Coming off a first place victory in regionals while only running two of their varsity runners, the boy’s cross country team competed in semistate today with their team all together for the first time since the Nike Twilight meet.

The Trojans would not disappoint for the most intense match of the season so far.

Center Grove finished semistate at Blue River Cross Country course with the boys team taking home second place and the girls with a 14th place finish, advancing Senior Bella Hodges to state.

Junior Parker Mimbela led the boy’s team with a fourth place finish in 15:29.6, just being edged out by Westfield’s Kai Conner at the line.

“I was looking for a top five individually today and also to get a personal record. I accomplished both of those,” Mimbela said. “We have been in this position already for two years and were just looking to place better than we did last year and go for the win at state.”

Griffin Hennessy was the next finisher for the Trojans, placing seventh with a time of 15:44.9. Hennessy was satisfied with the seventh place finish.

“They had me ranked top 10, so I just wanted to kind of stick with top 10,” Hennessy said. “I have a cold right now so anything in the top ten I would be happy with. I was pretty happy with my finish. I was able to drop two guys at the last kilometer, and then I wasn’t able to get anyone at the end but I was happy with my finish.”

Hennessy knew having a strong “pack” would be important for the Trojan’s ability to advance as a team to state.

“We wanted to have a really tight pack because in cross county it’s really important to have a really tight group for the best score possible so that was kind of our goal to have a tight group and win,” Hennessy said.

Although Coach Howard Harrell didn’t lay out any specific targets for his Trojans, he said he was happy with the team’s ability to compete.

“It’s kind of vague, but we just wanted to compete at the start, in the middle and then at the end. I didn’t tell the guys a specific time to be at any 1K or 2K or 3K; I just wanted them to be competitive, and if you’re competitive and you’re in position, it usually takes care of itself

Center Grove also placed Jarrett Rockwell (19th in 16:02.5) and Raef Sauer (20th in 16:03.4) on the All Semi-State team. The final scorer for the Trojans was Kyle Montgomery, who finished 31st with a time of 16:18.5.

On the girls side, Center Grove closed out the season with a 14th place finish. Senior Bella Hodges’ 11th place finish overall was enough to qualify her for next weekend’s state meet.

Hodges, who ran a personal best of 18:53.4, said she was excited about the highest finish of her career at semistate.

“It felt really good. I felt really good the entire race. That’s the best thing that I can ask for, I guess,” Hodges said. “My personal strategy was to get out strong and stay with the top 30. Then at the 2k, I started picking off as many people as I could.”

Although Hodges will be running her last high school cross country meet, she hopes to have a strong finish to her season.

“It’s going to be my last high school cross country race ever, so I’m just going to try and run as fast I can and place as high as I can,” Hodges said.

Elizabeth Madden won’t be advancing to state, but the sophomore showed promise running her season best time.

“It felt really good. This was my best race of the season and the best course we’ve run on, so it felt really good,” Madden said. “One way I think I’m going to improve is to go out fast because it can prove I can go up better.”

The boys team and Hodges will run at state next Saturday at LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.