By KEVIN HARRIS
TERRE HAUTE —
Floyd Central girls’ cross country runner Lydia Kotowski got her first experience competing in the IHSAA State Finals on Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
The freshman finished 71st in a time of 19:46. The finish was below her goal of making the All-State team, as she needed to finish in the top 25 to accomplish that feat.
But Highlanders’ coach Carl Hook thought his rookie runner handled the state finals experience well, especially the increased traffic and the collegiate-style course.
“She ran good. She had a great effort,” Hook said. “It was windy and the times were a little slow for everybody, but it was a good effort by her. I thought she handled the course OK. I’m sure it was intimidating for her with her teammates not out there.”
Kotowski had been on a tear entering the state finals. She placed third at the Crawford County Sectional on Oct. 9, fourth at the Crawford County Regional on Oct. 13 and 10th at the Brown County Semi-state on Oct. 20.
Not bad for a runner who was competing in competitive cross country for the first time in her life this season.
“She came in and we didn’t know much about her. She ran track at Highland Hills [Middle School], but never cross country,” Hook said. “You never expect a new runner to finish 10th at semi-state. She had a great season and we’re excited about her future.”
Hook says the sky is the limit on Kotowski’s potential.
“She has a bright future and it’s good to have that experience on the state course,” Hook said. “We’ll be able to build her mileage up in the offseason. She has huge potential and she has a chance to get much better.”
Mishawaka sophomore Anna Rohrer won the girls’ race, setting a new state finals record in 17:13.2. Barr-Reeve senior Connor Sorrells captured the boys’ race in 15:21.3.
Carmel swept the boys’ and girls’ team championships. The Greyhound boys scored 93 points to win their first state title since 2008. They have the most state championships in IHSAA history with 12.
The Carmel girls extended their record for most girls’ state championships in IHSAA history with 14, tallying 66 points. It was their third state title in a row.