It was a breezy, but sunny day for the 33rd annual IHSAA Cross Country State Finals for girls.
The state’s best runners converged on the Lavern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute to compete for the coveted state title.
Oldenburg Academy senior Sarah Billingsley was one the 208 runners at the starting line.
Billingsley was able to establish her position among the leaders early in the race and maintained it the entire 5,000-meters.
Columbus North’s Mackenzie Caldwell jumped out to the early lead and Elkhart Memorial junior Sierra Moore and Carmel senior Kelcy Welch keeping pace. Billingsley and a small pack of runners did not let the leaders build much of a lead.
As Caldwell and Welch battled for the top spot, Billingsley and others were holding their ground for a top 10 place. Welch eventually made her move and finished just ahead of Caldwell.
Billingsley, who placed seventh at the state finals as a junior, crossed the finish line in ninth place and a time of 18:20. Less than two seconds separated Billingsley from seventh place finisher Abigail Hostetler of Freemont.
Welch won the race in a time of 17:53, which was three seconds ahead of Caldwell.
Switzerland County freshman Whitley Schirmer, who qualified from the Brown County Semistate, was 100th overall with a time of 19:50.
Carmel went on to win the team title for the fourth straight year. Hamilton Southeastern took the girls runner-up spot with 122 points, followed by Columbus North (141), West Lafayette (150) and Avon (152).
Terrs Haute South’s Jackson Bertoli placed first in the boys race.
Bertoli rallied to win the individual crown in a time of 15:32.4 overtaking Zachery Panning of Fort Wayne Concordia who held a commanding lead but faded unexpectedly and fell with approximately 200 meters left.
33rd Annual IHSAA State Finals Top 10 Individuals Welch (Carmel) 17:53 Caldwell (Columbus N) 17:56 Lanciono (LaPorte) 18:03 Nichwitz (HSE) 18:04 Nicholson (Avon) 18:06 Woods (Penn) 18:09 Hostetler (Fremont) 18:18 King (HSE) 18:20 Billingsley (OA) 18:20 Dalton (Greenwood) 18:23