By GREG MENGELT
After having the Crawford County Regional title wrestled away from them by rival New Albany a year ago, Floyd Central’s girls’ cross country team recaptured the crown, winning it for the second time in three years on Saturday.
All seven Highlanders finished in the top 19 as they out-distanced runner-up Perry Central by a large margin, 43-96.
Floyd Central freshman Lydia Kotowski, who had a team-best fourth-place finish, said she and her teammates expected nothing less than leaving the stiff competition far behind.
“That’s what we assumed we would doing coming into it, but it’s nice to make a dream a reality,” she said.
Kotowski said a personal-best time of 19:18, cutting over a minute off of Tuesday’s sectional time at the same course in Marengo.
“I had a dream a couple of nights ago — this is going to sound really corny — and I saw myself run the race in 19:22, so I set that for myself as a personal goal,” Kotowski said.
“Amazing race for Lydia,” Hook said. “She just got out there and ran. She’s a talented girl and works really hard. She had a great day today, an exception race for her.”
Alyssa Moore — the Highlanders’ only senior — and Madison Barney finished sixth and seventh, respectively, for Floyd. Zoe Doebler was 11h, Jamie Bierman 15th, Haley Meyer 17th and Cassie Nale 19th for the Highlanders.
“It was an awesome job by all the girls,” Kotowski said.
“This is a team sports,” Hook said. “We coach it that way and run it that way. Everybody helps each other out. We had a great team effort today.”
The defending champion Bulldogs tied Perry Central with 96 points, but the Commodores officially finished second when their sixth runner, Verna Schwartz, beat New Albany’s sixth runner, Corinn Mundy, by five spots.
Phoebe Bauer led the Bulldogs in eighth place after a late charge through the field. Bailey Knable and Rose Kaforski each finished with personal bests. Knable came in 12th and Kaforski crossed the line 13th.
“I’m really proud of them,” Bauer said of her teammates. “I’m really happy to make it to next week.”
Bauer, who won the regional as a sophomore and was runner-up a year ago, continued to fight thigh and ankle injuries Saturday.
“I’m feeling it, that’s for sure,” Bauer said. “I feel like I should be up front.”
She and her teammates will join the Highlanders at next Saturday’s Brown County Regional. Bauer still isn’t sure if she’ll be prepared to be competitive by then.
“I’ll do the best I can. I’ll but it out there, but I don’t know,” she said.
The Highlanders, on the other hand, expect to fight for a spot in the Oct. 27 state finals at Terre Haute.
“I expect us to go to state,” Kotowski said. “That’s been the goal all season.”
“We know who the top three are up there,” Hook said of Columbus North, Terre Haute North and Bloomington South. “We figure to be fighting with three to six other schools for the final three spots. If we run like this, I think are chances are pretty good. We just have to go up there and take care of business like we did today.”
Providence finished fourth as a team, and Erin Denis (ninth) and Kori Siebert (10th) will also compete at Saturday’s regional in Nashville.
Borden, which was led by Brooklyn Agnew’s 35th-place finish, was 10th overall.
Heritage Hills’ Sienna Crews won the regional title with a course-record time of 18:31.
BORDEN EDGED BY COMMODORES
Five days after winning its first sectional title in school history, Borden nearly went a step further.
The Braves finished 12 points behind regional-champion Perry Central for a second-place finish.
Borden and Floyd Central, which finished fifth, will compete in next Saturday’s Brown County Regional.
“I’m definitely happy with the effort,” Borden coach Liz Carmony said. “We came in and did what we wanted to do and advanced on to semistate. That’s another race we’re fortunate enough to get to run in.”
Despite the strong efforts of the Braves, there was some disappointment mixed with the pride of advancing to another round of the state tournament.
“I thought we had a good chance,” Carmony said. “I didn’t think it was a lock by any means. I thought Perry would run strong, but I told the boys we had to go out and run our races and be focused on us.”
The Commodores had three runners on the top 12, led by fifth-place Alex Newton. Borden’s third runner didn’t come in until 21st. That, Carmony said, was the difference.
“That was the key to today’s race,” Carmony assessed. “They had three boys who ran strong at the front. That’s where we just couldn’t gain ground.”
Freshman Julien Magallanes once again led the Braves, finishing ninth in 16:56. George Tipker placed 17th, Brian Eurton was 21st, Nathan Magallanes crossed the line in 25th and Gavin Tipker came in 28th.
“They all hit their [mile times] that they wanted to hit, but Perry just had a better race than us,” Carmony said. “They looked really strong.”
The 2012 Borden team will try to attempt another first for the program — a trip to the state finals — next Saturday.
“I expect us to have better races than today,” Carmony said. “We’re looking to peak [at semistate]. I feel like we have a shot [to get to state] if we have our best races and can get a few of our top boys closer to the front.”
As it turned out, Grant Reynolds was the hero for Floyd Central. Reynolds finished 41st overall and sixth among the Highlanders. However, he was the tiebreaker with Tell City, which also scored 134 points. Reynolds beat the Minutemen’s Michael Schwatz by seven spots as the tiebreaker for the final semistate spot.
Luke Uhl led the Highlanders in 18th position. A Floyd pack then gave the team the points it needed to advance. Alec Heitz finished 32nd, Grant Vellinger 33rd, Kahler Davis 36th and Mike White 39th. Reese Tarr finished 47th.
The Highlanders and Braves will be joined in Nashville by New Albany’s Drew Hirsch, Providence’s Murphy Sheets and Jeffersonville’s Tyrell Dowdell. Hirsch was the area’s top finisher in sixth place. He completed the course in 16:39. Sheets, whose Pioneers finished ninth as a team, placed seventh and Dowdell was 10th.
“We run this course for sectional and regional, so I knew it well,” Hirsch said. “I knew where I needed to run it better [than at sectional]. Murphy Sheets from Providence was ahead of me at the end, so that gave me an extra little spark to try to get more spots. I was pretty confident through the whole thing.”
North Harrison’s Jonathan Reynolds shattered the course record in 15:49 as the Cougars finished third. Forest Park took the other semistate spot in fourth.
CRAWFORD COUNTY REGIONAL
Team scores: Floyd Central 43, Perry Central 96, New Albany 96, North Harrison 114, Jasper 127, Heritage Hills 145, Forest Park 158, Providence 176, Northeast Dubois 219, Borden 274.
Overall individual winner: Siena Crews (HH) 18:31 — course record.
Floyd Central: 4. Lydia Kotowski 19:18, 6. Alyssa Moore 20:37, 7. Madison Barney 20:49, 11. Zoe Doebler 21:05, 15. Jamie Bierman 21:18, 17. Haley Meyer 21:26, 19. Cassie Nale 21:28.
New Albany: 8. Phoebe Bauer 20:50, 12. Bailey Knable 21:06, 13. Rose Kaforski 21:10, 33. Rachel Bowden 22:24, 38. Rachel Geveden 22:34, 44. Corinn Mundy 22:47, 55. Emma Bauer 23:46.
Providence: 9. Erin Denis 20:52, 10. Kori Siebert 20:59, 40. Samantha Stiner 22:36, 65. Virginia McCauley 25:36, 67. Janelle Marriott 26:066, 70. Hannah Freville 27:04.
Borden: 35. Brooklyn Agnew 22:28, 62. Abby Ellis 24:36, 64. Aspen Kirchgessner 24:56, 68. Nikki Carter 26:34, 69. Shelby Kirchgessner 26:35.
Team scores: Perry Central 68, Borden 80, North Harrison 111, Forest Park 129, Floyd Central 134, Tell City 134, Heritage Hills 149, Lanesville 166, Providence 191, Northeast Dubois 206.
Overall individual winner: Jonathan Reynolds (NH) 15:49 — course record.
Borden: 9. Julien Magallanes 16:52, 17. George Tipker 17:12, 21. Brian Eurton 17:15, 25. Nathen Magallanes 17:20, 28. George Tipker 17:31, 56. Michael Lynch 19:08, 59. Brian McGee 19:16.
Floyd Central: 18. Luke Uhl 17:12, 32. Alec Heitz 17:36, 33. Grant Vellinger 17:39, 36. Kahler Davis 17:50, 39. Mike White 18:00, 41. Grant Reynolds 18:00, 47. Reese Tarr 18:09.
Providence: 7. Murphy Sheets 16:44, 37. Lincoln Ottersbach 17:52, 45. Spencer Mitchell 18:06, 57. Nathan Shumate 19:13, 67. Alex Grove 20:07, 73. Collin Rankin 21:14, 74. Joseph Swearingen 22:35.
New Albany: 6. Andrew Hirsch 16:39.
Jeffersonville: 10. Tyrell Dowdell 16:56.