(Top left) Landry Moore finishes strong in 16th place for the Knights helping them to a fourth place finish as a team.
(Top right) James Grounds (L-R) on the podium with North's Zach Mayhew and Josh Bedford.
(Bottom left) Clay City's Logan Bettenbrock finishes sixth, ahead of THS's Andrew Sullivan.
(Bottom right) (L-R) Allie True Casandra Barnett and Emilee Lutes of Northview and Alisha Drake of the Eels begin the race.
- Northview's Grounds wins cross country sectional -
- Eels and Knight boys move on with Northview girls -
SEELEYVILLE -- One day short of exactly one year ago, Northview senior James Grounds was finishing up a 27th place finish as his Northview squad just squeaked their way into fifth place to advance to regional competition as a team.
Oh what a difference a year makes!
Grounds spent the offseason running countless miles in an effort to be the leader his team was lacking after they graduated their top runner, Ryan Thompson last year. In the heat of the summer, running mile after mile with the 2005 cross country season poised to be a coming out party of sorts as Grounds has lead his squad from day one.
On Tuesday night, Grounds showed what he could do to the rest of the crowd present at the Terre Haute North Cross Country Sectional.
He would cruise behind a small lead pack throughout the race heading into the final stages of the race held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, and then he made his move, cruising past defending champion Josh Bedford along with Terre Haute South's Zach Mayhew and sped to a sectional championship.
Afterwards, an elated Grounds spoke of the emotions as he crossed the finish line a champion.
"Its been a lot of work. All summer was nothing but running. This feels great, my legs feel like butter but (winning the sectional) feels like heaven."
Not only did he improve his place dramatically from last season but he also ran more than two and a half minutes faster over the 3.1 mile, five kilometer course. Grounds finished in 16:26 this year to beat out Mayhew who was three seconds back with Bedford in third at 16:46.
When asked about his goals for Saturday's Brown County Regional, Grounds directed his thoughts toward the team goals. "We've struggled a bit with injuries,"commented Grounds on the Knights. "But we're looking forward to regionals and I'd really like us to make states. I've never been there before."
The way he ran in the sectional, he's certainly not going to be under the radar as he paced the team to a fourth place finish and a berth in the regional.
Terre Haute South ran a strong race overall, taking fifth with sophomore Brandon Tullock leading the way in 17:07 as the Braves took fifth, seventh, ninth, 11th and 12th for 44 team points to beat the Patriots who went second and third, but dropped off to 10th, 14th and 18th for their five scoring runners. The effort left North with 47 team points which beat out Clay City who had a solid effort as well with 76 points.
"We had a pretty good effort," mentioned Clay City coach Keith Jones. "We lost a little bit the last 2,000 meters but we still hung in there. The weekend is the big meet (regional). We're probably going to have to beat one of the teams ahead of us today (to advance)."
The Eels were lead by Logan Bettenbrock who finished one spot higher than he did last year with his sixth place time of 17:10.20 which was 32 seconds faster than last season's sectional time.
In nearly perfect racing conditions, the course ran fast as a whole and the Eels did a good job of taking advantage of it with their top three all running 30 seconds plus faster than last year.
Adam Schroer was eighth in 17:17, Tyler Moon was 19th overall in 17:55.55, Cole Schroer ran a 21st place time of 18:00, Kevin Cook was 22nd in 18:02, Braxton Griffith was 33rd in 18:47 with Austin Vansickle scored at 36th overall at 19:02.
For Northview, sophomore Landry Moore made a big charge in his sectional debut with his 16th place finish in 17:49 and freshman Eli Kirby made a quality start with his 23rd place (18:03). Senior Logan Wegner was nearly a minute and a half faster than last year, placing 25th in 18:07 with freshman Chris Smith close behind in 26th at 18:12. Fellow freshman Ryan Lutes was 31st in 18:28 and Drew White was 35th in 19:01, a minute faster than in 2004.
According to Knights' head coach Jeff Gambill, the squad got some big efforts to pace their team. "I think we had some guys really step up today. Obviously James (Grounds), but Eli Kirby had a great race as a freshman. I thought we ran really smart. We're going to try and pick it up and get ready for regionals."
Joining the boys squad, the Northview girls will make the trip as well, placing third overall with 104 points. The same can't be said for Clay City who tied North Central with 143 team points for fifth place and the final team berth to Brown County. But the Thunderbirds will advance on the strength of a better sixth runner placing.
The Terre Haute South girls squad made it a Brave sweep, taking the team championship with 24 points followed by the Patriots in second at 37. The Knights were third with West Vigo and North Central rounding out the regional qualifiers.
Kayla Alexander was the repeat champion, just getting under the 15 minute mark at 14:59, beating her time from last year's championship by 19 seconds. Ariel Hall was second followed by Adriane Wunderlich of South and Megan Hamilton of North.
The youthful Northview girls team was paced by junior Hannah Hunter who was 18th overall in 17:31 with freshman Allie True coming through with a great effort for 20th followed closely by sophomore Jennifer Jeffers in 17:39.17 with Casandra Barnett in 21st at 17:39.73. The Knights' pack continued with senior Felicia Smith in 24th at 18:17.41 and Emilee Lutes was in 28th and freshman Shelby Colson was 40th at 20:23.
For the Eels, the effort was there even though the regional berth isn't.
"It's hard to swallow," admitted Jones. "But I can't fault our effort. I'm really proud (of the girls). They really put their heart into it. I realized it was close but that's a part of it."
The Eels were paced by Andrea Ladd who was 19th in 17:34 with Alisha Drake in 25th at 18:20 and Rachel Narlock placed 26th in 18:25 followed by Kristen Tyler in 39th at 20:21 and Erica Kimmel was 43rd with Whitney Ames in 52nd, more than 30 seconds faster than last year's effort in 25:26.
The Brown County Regional will begin at 10 a.m. with the girls race followed by the boys race at 11 a.m.