With two different sectionals and two different regionals, the News and Tribune area cross country teams don’t all meet until the Brown County Semi-state.
If it’s a close call, the News and Tribune Runner of the Year honor often comes down to who performs best at the Nashville race.
This year was no different.
In a six runner race for the area’s top cross country honor, Silver Creek senior Isaak Haas come out ahead of New Albany’s Andrew Hirsch, Jeffersonvile’s Tyrell Dowdell, Borden’s Julien Magallanes, Providence’s Murphy Sheets and Floyd Central’s Grant Reynolds, giving him the nod for the honor.
Even as the area’s top finisher, Haas wasn’t completed satisfied with his performance at the semi-state, missing out on his goal of reaching the state meet for the first time with a 31st-place finish.
“I was confident going in,” Haas said. “I didn’t have as good a race as I wanted. It was a sad day because it was my last race, but I’ll take the performance.”
“He probably had a better race at the regional,” Silver Creek coach Darrell Kingery said of Haas’s eighth-place finish in 16:21 at Brown County. “At semi-state, I wouldn’t call that his best race. But he ran a good, solid race. It was a great effort. He gave it all he had.”
Haas broke his leg during the summer. How it happened surprised no one who knows him. Haas simply worked too hard and rested too little.
That’s the drive of a runner who urgently wants to succeed.
“He only had six, seven weeks of training [for the tournament]. He was amazing in the sectional, regional and semi-state,” Kingery said. “What else can you say? He’s a very committed, dedicated runner and he made it happen. That’s to his credit.”
What pushed Haas most was a spot in the state finals, something he’s never done. Despite missing the first half of the season, he only missed the state’s biggest meet by 16 spots.
“That was definitely my goal,” Haas said. “That’s the one thing I wanted to do, to get to state. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Haas will have one more chance when he takes to the track this spring for the Dragons’ track and field team, where he figures to be Creek’s top distance runner.
Kingery said if it comes down to who works the hardest, you can expect to see Haas running at the state finals at Indiana University in Bloomington this June.
“He has one more chance to get to state,” Kingery said. “I’ll tell you what, he’s giving it all he has.”
Haas’s honor was not solely an individual award. One reason for his candidacy was the Dragons’ performance.
After losing to North Harrison by a single point in the Mid-Southern Conference race, Silver Creek easily won the Southwestern Sectional and finished runner-up to defending state champion Columbus North at the regional.
Like Haas, many of the Dragons spent a good portion of the season tending to wounded bodies. That made the team success even sweeter in the end.
“Our whole team was plagued with injuries,” Haas said. “We showed perseverance to get through all of the important races. [My teammates] were gutsy and left everything on the course.”
Isaak Haas, Silver Creek — Runner of the Year
Andrew Hirsch, New Albany
Tyrell Dowdell, Jeffersonville
Murphy Sheets, Providence
Julien Magallanes, Borden
Grant Reynolds, Floyd Central
Brian Eurton, Borden
Jason Fruits, Silver Creek
Luke Uhl, Floyd Central
George Tipker, Borden
Evan Strom, Silver Creek
Nathen Magallanes, Borden
George Tipker, Borden
Drew Roberts, Silver Creek
Coach of the Year: Liz Carmony, Borden