-- — A rain-soaked cross country course on the grounds of Northview Church greeted over 150 runners for the Carmel Semistate on Saturday.
The Oldenburg Academy Lady Twisters were one of 20 teams vying for one of the top six places and a shot to run at the annual IHSAA state finals next weekend.
The small Class A school was close, but fell just short by placing ninth with a team score of 253 points. Top-ranked Carmel stood out among the field with 44 points followed by Hamilton Southeastern (104) and Franklin Central (116).
The Lady Twisters were just 67 points behind sixth-placing Westfield.
Leading the way for OA was junior Sarah Billingsley. Billingsley was on the heels of eventual winner Mary Abramson for much of the race, but fell back was later passed by Noblesville’s Kendra Foley.
Still, Billingsley held her ground and finished an impressive third overall with a time of 18:29. The third place finish was more than good enough to earn a berth individually at the state finals on Saturday.
In addition to teams advancing, individuals placing in the Top 15 also get a chance to run another day.
Oldenburg added two more runners to the Top 30 mix. Kirsten Ricke and Meredith Maier gave the Lady Twisters hope for a top six team finish by placing 28th and 29th, respectively. Ricke raced to the finish line in a time of 19:39, which was less than one second ahead of her teammate.
Junior Rachel Billingsley was caught a bit farther back in the pack, but turned in a solid effort. The OA junior 72nd overall (63rd in the team competition) with a time of 20:52.
The deep talent pool of runners made for an exciting race, but it also makes for a grueling one.
Courtney Unkrich was the fifth and final scoring running for the Lady Twisters. She crossed the finish line 134th in the team competition with a time of 24:44.
Also running for the Lady Twisters were Bobbie Wagner and Jackie Unkrich.
Competing individually for the Greensburg Lady Pirates was freshman Shelby Pake. Pake placed 49th overall with a time of 20:11.