TERRE HAUTE — It was rough sledding for both Floyd Central teams Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
Each Highlander squad finished 19th in the IHSAA State Finals at Terre Haute.
“It wasn’t a great day,” Floyd Central boys’ coach Tim Korte said. “We definitely walked away from that one not super happy with our performance.”
Fort Wayne Concordia placed three runners in the top 18 en route to 93 points and its first state title. Two-time defending champion Carmel was second with 112. Brebeuf (135), Columbus North (161) and Brownsburg (214) rounded out the top five.
Floyd, which entered ranked 12th in the state, finished with 432 points on a crisp, cool afternoon.
“It was breezy and soft, but not bad,” Korte said. “Plenty of other teams ran just fine in it, we just didn’t. We’ll go back and look and see what happened.”
Lowell senior Gabriel Sanchez, last year’s runner-up, was the individual state champion. He covered the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 28.7 seconds.
Senior Luke Heinemann led the Highlander contingent, placing 82nd in 16:46.7. Classmate Eli Johnson wasn’t far behind in 98th in 16:53.2. Sophomore Mitchel Meier (134th), junior Hunter Griffin (135th) and sophomore Weston Naville (151st) rounded out Floyd’s team score.
The Highlanders will lose Johnson and twins Luke and David Heinemann to graduation, but should return four of their top seven runners from Saturday next year.
“We walk away and we learn from it,” Korte said.
Fort Wayne Carroll placed three runners in the top 25 on the way to 101 points and its second straight state title. Zionsville was second (143) while Carmel (162), Fishers (192) and Columbus North (195) rounded out the top five. The Highlanders, who came in ranked 10th in the state, finished with 456 points.
Fort Wayne Dwenger senior Erin Strzelecki, last year’s runner-up, won the race in 17:22.9. Edgewood junior Annalyssa Crain, the winner of the Brown County Semistate a week before, was second in 17:44.5.
Floyd Central senior Sydney Liddle, who was second to Crain at Brown County, finished 51st in 19:13.7. Her younger sister Savanna, a freshman, was the second Highlander across the finish line in 20:02.7.
Junior Natalie Clare (119th), junior Sydney Baxter (156) and senior Carley Conway (184th) rounded out Floyd’s team score.
“I’m so proud of all our girls," Floyd Central coach Carl Hook said. "They absolutely raced with everything they had, and more, in the toughest race there is in tough conditions. Their effort was amazing and that’s how we measure our success.
"We were blessed this season and are grateful."
The Highlanders will lose Sydney Liddle, Conway and fellow senior Chloe Loftus, but should return four other runners from Saturday’s lineup next year.
"We say goodbye to four great seniors — Chloe Loftus, Sydney Liddle, Carley Conway and Mandy Howe. They will be missed," Hook said.