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October 9, 2012

H.S. CROSS COUNTRY: Dragons sweep Southwestern Sectional titles

Henryville has a big day, including Spears’ championship

HANOVER — Silver Creek coach Darrell Kingery wasn’t going to settle for second place.

Neither were his Dragons.

Silver Creek’s boys and girls swept the Southwestern Cross Country Regional Tuesday. The girls crushed the competition, beating runner-up Madison by 38 points. The Dragon topped the runner-up Cubs, 33-47.

“I told the kids on the bus that we are not going to accept second place,” Kingery recalled. “We came out here to win. If we got second, then we failed. The kids stepped up to the challenge I thought.”

Kingery spent 27 years at Clarksville before making the tough decision to take the Silver Creek job two years ago. Days like Tuesday made the move with it.

“I was looking for kids who wanted to run and wanted to be successful, and Silver Creek had a group that seemed to want to do that,” Kingery said. “This is what you coach for.”

GIRLS’ RACE

Henryville junior Sadie Spears continued a phenomenal junior season with her first individual sectional title.

Spears pulled away from Silver Creek sophomore Maggie Shields with about a mile to go and beat Shields to the finish line by 19 seconds to win the title.

“I was kind of expecting to come in first, but you never know,” Spears said. “Any girls can come from anywhere and just get you, but I pulled it off and it feels really good.”

Spears followed her Southern Athletic Conference championship and Providence Invitational title with a winning time of 20:22.79.

“I do feel like I’ve been pretty strong,” Spears said. “The last couple of weeks have been pretty awesome.”

Spears did more than win the race. She actually motivated her top competition. She and Silver Creek’s Maggie Shields ran together for over two miles. With less than a mile to go, Spears implored Shields to keep up with her.

“She started to leave me and she said, ‘Don’t leave me,’ but I just couldn’t keep up,” Shields recalled. “She’s a great motivator to run with.”

“For me, it’s not all about winning,” Spears said. “I like to make friends when I’m running. I talk to everybody. I like to encourage people.”

“She’s phenomenal,” Henryville coach Brad Nifong said of Spears. “She’s been awesome. She’s the ultimate kid that you want to have run cross country for you.”

Shields entered the race hoping for her first sectional title, but she was satisfied after crossing the line second.

“I was happy that Sadie beat me, if anybody,” Shields said.

Shields led a Silver Creek onslaught following Spears. Brittany Sharp finished third in 20:47, Mackenzie Crouch came in fourth, Jessica Backherms was eighth and Miranda Coats was 19th to help the Dragon girls repeat as sectional champions.

“It’s the greatest ever coming back and winning a second time,” Shields said.

Spears and Hornets’ teammate Megan O’Lone, who finished 14th, and Charlestown’s Whitney Andrews, who placed seventh, will join Silver Creek at the Brown County Regional on Saturday.

“It’s going to be tough competition,” Shields said, “but we’re hoping to come out of it. Our team’s working hard to pull through.”

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