Arielle Phillips has made a big splash on the cross country scene this season.

In just a few short months the Jeffersonville sophomore has gone from a novice distance runner to a semistate qualifier.

“Arielle has made amazing progress,” Red Devils coach Carolyn Simpson said. “She started out as a rookie — she had never run cross country before. At one of our first meets, she received a medal and from then on she strived to do better and better at each meet. She’s PR’d at over half of her meets and she’s the only runner for JHS who qualified for semistate.”

Phillips began the season by placing 28th at the Seymour Invitational on Aug. 20, then had a solid showing in Silver Creek’s Darrell Kingery Hokum Karem five days later. Her progression has continued since then.

On Oct. 3, Phillips finished 24th in the Hoosier Hills Conference meet. A week later she placed eighth in the Austin Sectional at Hardy Lake. Then last Saturday, she took 21st overall — covering the 3.1-mile course at Ceraland Park in 20 minutes, 52.4 seconds — in the Columbus North Regional to qualify for this Saturday’s Brown County Semistate. The girls’ race is scheduled to go off at 11:30 a.m. at Eagle Park in Nashville.

“There are a lot of things that make Arielle a good runner, but the most important thing about her is her mentality,” Simpson said. “She’s driven and is a positive thinker. I always tell the runners that cross country is at least 80 percent mental, and Arielle has been able to fight through that ‘wall’ that so many runners hit. She’s mentally tough.”

HIGHLANDERS HAVE HIGH HOPES

Coming off its fifth consecutive regional title last Saturday, Floyd Central has high expectations for this Saturday’s Brown County Semistate.

“The goal is for everybody to have PRs at semistate,” Highlanders interim head coach Jeff Liddle said.

Floyd is coming off an impressive showing at last Saturday’s Crawford County Regional. The Highlanders had five of the top 10 finishers, led by junior Jaydon Cirincione, who ran a personal-best 18:20.5 on the Mike Esarey Cross Country Course. Cirincione was closely followed by teammates Savanna Liddle (third), Kaitlyn Stewart (sixth), Natalie Clare (ninth) and Sydney Baxter (10th).

In addition to No. 9 Floyd Central, Saturday’s formidable field also includes third-ranked Columbus North, No. 11 Northview, No. 14 Bloomington North and No. 19 Bloomington South.

“Our goal is to beat Bloomington North and to be as close as we can to Columbus North,” Jeff Liddle said last Saturday. “We want to beat Bloomington North. They’ve beat us twice this year and we’ve beat them once. We want to even the score, then beat them at state.”

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