Times Sports Editor
The Northview girls' cross country program has enjoyed a resurgence the past several years and a big part of that has been a graduating senior class that will send three athletes on to the collegiate ranks.
Allie True and C.J. Barnett signed their letters-of-intent to join the newly created St. Mary-of-the-Woods program under coach Danelle Readinger. Northview teammate, Kylee Thacker will join the Indiana State Sycamore track and cross country programs in the 2009-10 season.
You'd be hard pressed to find friends that are as close as Barnett and True, so it's only fitting that the pair bring their talents to the Pomeroys' program. At St. Mary's they'll get the opportunity to help another team rise to significant heights after helping take the Knights' team to back-to-back semi-state appearances.
While Northview coach Ryand Tucker will certainly miss the pair's talent on the course as well as in track, he pointed out that the girls will be missed just as much for their character too.
"I will have memories of them for a lifetime," said Tucker. "I hate referring to both of them as one, but they are like that, you get one, you get the other. The girls began what I hope to become a standard for Northview Girls Cross Country, qualifying for semi-state. They were a part of two of the four qualifying teams in school history.
The hardest thing to replace with the graduation of CJ and Allie will be the sense of knowing that they will perform when they must," Tucker added. "Perfect examples of this would be their runs at regional and semi-state this past season. I told them what needed to be done at regional for us to advance and they did exactly what was asked and needed of them."
While Thacker was the No. 1 runner on the team while all three were juniors and reached the Bedford North Lawrence Semi-State, True and Barnett weren't going to miss out on a repeat trip after their teammate was out much of their senior season with a stress fracture.
Barnett and True placed sixth and eighth in the sectional as Northview placed second as a team. The duo followed that up in the regional with a 14th by Barnett and a 32nd by True. The Knights needed every team point on that day and achieved a fifth-place to advance to semi-state where the team took 10th.
Barnett and True's dedication in their final prep season is what really opened eyes from coaches in the high school and collegiate ranks.
"Both are a coach's dream," Tucker said. "They communicate openly, train hard, never complain, and give it everything they can each and everyday. They will most likely spoil Coach Readinger in her first season as SMWC Head Coach."
Readinger knows what it takes to compete collegiately after a career at Indiana State under current coach, John Gartland.
Readinger is still a competitive runner and started the Terre Haute Tigers Track Club, which includes runners in the community between the ages of five and 18. She's also the Membership, Youth and Club Chair of the USA Track and Field Indiana Association.
Her love of the sport led her to take on the challenge of beginning a collegiate program after speaking with her former coach at ISU.
At first I was not sure if college coaching was for me," Readinger said. "I actually spoke with my college coach John Gartland extensively before taking the position. It was a new program, and I new the commitment and time dedication was going to big to get a team established the first year. After speaking with him, other mentors, and lots of prayer, well the result is known. I feel extremely blessed to have this position, and to have a great Ladies coming into the program like CJ and Allie."
Readinger quickly acknowledged that Barnett and True were perfect for the Pomeroys.
"I not only looked at them because they have a great talent in cross-country, but because they have hearts of gold," Readinger said. "They are the kind of ladies that can inspire and motivate. With a team of all freshmen they are going to be a great not only for the team, but for the school."
Readinger believes that Barnett and True have a great future and are just the type of athletes that Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is looking for to join the program.
"When recruiting, Coach Ballenger and I looked for girls who were talented team leaders, had a passion for the sport, good academics, and hard working.
Allie and CJ fit this to a T," Readinger said.