Times Sports Editor
This has been a special season for the Northview girlsâ cross country program.
For the first time since the 2003 season, the Knights have reached the semistate as a team. In no other sport does teamwork mean more than it does in cross country.
A school might have one or two good runners, but without a solid group of at least five runners, the team wonât go very far.
So the fact that the Knights have reached this level is a testament to the work that the squad has put in throughout, not just the season, but during the offseason as well.
As a former high school cross country runner myself, I know the mileage required in scorching heat during the summer, and the sleet, rain and cold during the winter, to be successful in the sport.
Coach Ryand Tucker has prepared this team well for the postseason and his team has come through with flying colors.
âThey are excited about making it to semi-state. They also realize that making it to semi-state is not the end of the season,â said Tucker. âWe have had our sights on the state meet since the beginning of the season; I think the Culver meet is when they finally realized they have a legitimate shot of making it.â
Last Saturdayâs run at the Brown County Regional was a testament to what this team is all about.
With the top-five teams qualifying for tomorrowâs Bedford North Lawrence Semistate, Northview placed its two through five runners in a close group within just over a minute apart. That close knit group is what pushed the team into a fifth qualifying spot with 145 points to beat out perennial rival Terre Haute South in sixth place.
In the regional, the Knights got superlative performances from the entire group.
What should be pointed out is that five runners on the team obliterated their previous time on the course when the squad ran at the Eagle Classic on Sept. 8.
Casandra Barnett lowered her time by over a minute and a half, dropping to a 20:28 in the regional after a 22:02 in September. Right behind her was Allie True who dropped more than a minute from her time down to 21:12 and Corey Laue did much the same by lowering her time to 21:19 from 22:12.
The teamâs lone senior, Jennifer Jeffers, brought her time down to 21:39 from 22:38 and perhaps the very most impressive of the group, was Marissa Bryanâs time at the regional.
After running a 24:43 back in September, Bryan dropped a staggering 2:46 from her time. A truly remarkable feat for that late in the season.
While the Knightsâ No. 1 runner, Kylee Thacker has worked to get back to full strength in the postseason, her teammates have excelled in driving the team to the semistate.
Today, Northview heads to the Bedford North Lawrence Semistate where they will mix it up with local rival Terre Haute North as well as conference foe Edgewood. Those teams both figure to be in Northviewâs path to qualify for the state finals to be held at the LaVern Gibson Course in Terre Haute a week from today.
Bloomington Southâs lineup of five freshman is one of the teams expected to be a favorite along with Bloomington North and the Patriots.
Madison is expected to challenge Terre Haute North for a top-three finish and New Albany is in the mix as well along with Crawford County who they edged by six points in the sectional.
The battle for positions five through 10 is going to be just that. A battle.
At this point of the season, there is plenty of room for teams to slide up and down which makes the last couple of state finals berths up for grabs in what guarantees to be a dogfight.
The Knights are surely in a position in which to advance with another great effort like last weekend. But each spot is ultimately that much more valuable today. Just ask Northviewâs boysâ team how important just one position is considering they missed joining the girls in the semistate by just one point.
With the state finals within reach, Tucker has geared the teamâs practices towards making the IHSAAâs top level.
âThe girls have been enjoying this week, we are lowering the weekly mileage a little, so we can run on fresh legs,â commented Tucker. âThe goal is to run our best race of the season. We believe that if we do this we will qualify for state.â
Tucker has learned a great deal about his team throughout this season.
âI have learned quite a bit from the girls. Some things I never wanted to know and other that have helped me train their minds to handle the rigor of the 5K race,â said the first-year coach. âI was used to 5 K training so I was happy when they switched the girls' distance to 5 K. I am lucky to have a great group of runners that I will refer to as âMy Girlsâ from now on.â
These girls wearing Northview colors have proved to have a wealth of mettle this season and have endured the 100 degree practices and have pounded out countless miles since beginning their training just weeks after springâs track season. While a berth in the IHSAA finals would surely be special, regardless of todayâs outcome, these girls are already champions for what theyâve accomplished.