NASHVILLE -- The Brown County cross country semistate was run in sunny, cool conditions on Saturday afternoon and for Northview's Conor Strain, the weather was perfect for a run into the IHSAA State Finals to be held this weekend.
Strain improved his regional time on the same course by a couple of seconds and it was enough for a 14th-place finish and a berth in the biggest stage of Indiana prep cross country.
The same could be said for the Terre Haute North boys, who placed four runners in the top-15 overall to win the semistate team race with 49 points. Bloomington South was a distant second with 107 points followed by Floyd Central, New Albany, Perry Central and North Harrison, which all made the state finals.
The Northview girls ran well on Saturday, but placed 10th overall with 296 points, just six points out of eighth, but did not qualify for the finals.
Bloomington South's Nicole Lucas won the race in 19:11 as her Panthers won the team title with 64 points to far outdistance Bloomington North's 122. Heritage Hills, Madison, Terre Haute North and Edgewood each reached the girls' state finals.
With 163 runners in the boys' race and a soggy, slippery course at Eagle Park, Strain's goal was to get out strong and not get caught up in a packed field.
Strain stayed up in the lead group of runners throughout the five-kilometer race, which was his goal.
"I wanted to stay up with the leaders," said the exhausted but smiling junior Knight. "I knew that the closer I could stay to them, the better my chances."
Strain made the most of his chance, legging out the final several 100 meters amongst cheering fans. His 14th-place time of 16:24 was just six seconds out of a top-10 finish.
"I had people all over the course telling me where I was at (place-wise)," said Strain. "I was pretty sure I was going to be able to make it (to the state finals), I had confidence in myself."
Tyler Byrne of North Harrison won the event in 15:50 to beat out Terre Haute North's John Mascari's 15:55.
Shakamak's Drew Gambill will also return to the state finals as an individual runner, placing fifth-overall in 16:10.
"Place-wise I was pleased with my run," the Lakers' runner commented. "My goal was eighth, so I'm pretty excited. I saw the girls' race and I knew I wanted to get out early. I was hoping to get into the 15's (minutes), but overall it was a good race."
The Northview girls were paced by senior CJ Barnett, who ran a 20:46. She was followed by freshman Alyssa Conrad, who shaved 38 seconds off her regional time to place one spot behind Barnett in 35th.
Senior Allie True came home in 57th-place in 21:24 followed by Shelby Sands in 83rd (22:14), Corey Laue was 87th (22:20) and Nicole Nelson took 90th in 22:22.
"The team ran well," said coach Ryand Tucker. "Their times were pretty much all close to personal records. Coming in I thought we could be a top-10 team, but it says a lot about these girls that they were able to get back here. I was really pleased with their effort."
Shakamak's Casey Fougerousse placed 46th in 20:45 and White River Valley's Jennifer Hughes was 54th in 20:53.
The IHSAA State Cross Country meet takes place at the LaVern Gibson Course on Saturday with the girls race beginning at 1 p.m.
Boys team results (top-six advance to state finals)
1. T.H. North 49, Bloomington South 107, Floyd Central 131, New Albany 142, Perry Central 178, North Harrison 188, Martinsville 207, Bloomington North 210, Silver Creek 240, Seymour 248, Edgewood 279, Castle 287, Evansville Mater Dei 338, Bedford North Lawrence 345, Heritage Hills 397, Switzerland County 414, Signature 433, Jennings County 438, Evansville North 438, Barr-Reeve 494
Top-20 Individuals (top-15 advance to state finals)
1. Tyler Byrne (NH) 15:50, 2. John Mascari (THN) 15:55, 3. Joe Holahan (BS) 16:01, 4. Andrew Buzzelli (BN) 16:02, 5. Drew Gambill (Sh) 16:10, 6. Michael Callison (ND) 16:13, 7. Brandon Query (THN) 16:14, 8. Josh Genet (NeDub) 16:16, 9. Brendan Chwalek (Sil.Creek) 16:18, 10. Oliver Book (Prov) 16:18, 11. Jace Lowry (Martin) 16:22, 12. Billy Wink (Clark) 16:23, 13. Justin Hodge (Fl. Cent.) 16:24, 14. Conor Strain (Nview) 16:24, 15. Justin Chen (BS) 16:30, 16. Alex Fenn (Tell City) 16:33, 17. Clay Meyer (Switz) 16:40, 18. John Davis (THN) 16:41, 19. Sam Mires (Fl. Cent.) 16:42, 20. Milton Brinza (THN) 16:45.
Girls team results
Bloomington South 64, Bloomington North 122, Heritage Hills 156, Madison 169, T.H. North 169, Edgewood 237, Gibson Southern 265, Bedford North Lawrence 290, Perry Central 294, Northview 296, NE Dubois 300, New Albany 307, Forest Park 312, South Knox 317, Evansville Central 327, Jeffersonville 334, Evansville Memorial 336, Evansville North 345, Silver Creek 382, Brownstown Central 427
Top-20 Individuals (top-15 advance to state finals)
1. Nicole Lucas (BS) 19:11, 2. Shaylyn Ayer (Heritage Hills) 19:16, 3. Emily Cotterman (THN) 19:25, 4. Maggie Wagner (BN) 19:25, 5. Zoe Withered (BN) 19:31, 6. Sofie Etienne (Her. Hills) 19:32, 7. Chloe Heller (Washington) 19:34, 8. Lacy Orth (Ev. North) 19:41, 9. Stephanie Cave (New Albany) 19:44, 10. Sarah Goffinet (Tell City) 19:45, 11. Olivia Horvath (Silver Creek) 19;48, 12. Hope Lockman (Brown. Central) 19:51, 13. Kaci Verkamp (Forest Park) 19:57, 14. Emily Brown (S.Knox) 19:57, 15. Audrey Thill (Paoli) 19:58, 16. Allie Hetrick (BS) 19:59, 17. Chelsea Stephan (Madison) 20:02, 18. Taylor Wheeler (BS) 20:03, 19. Brooke Bierhaus (BS) 20:07, 20. Rebecca Jacobs (Ewood) 20:13
Northview: 34. CJ Barnett, 20:46, 35. Alyssa Conrad, 20:49, 57. Allie True, 21:24, 83. Shelby Sands, 22:14, 87. Corey Laue, 22:20, 90. Nicole Nelson, 22:22.
White River Valley: 54. Jennifer Hughes, 20:45
Shakamak: 46. Casey Fougerousse, 20:45