Hayden Merkel became the fifth fastest cross country runner at Batesville High School with a time of 16:17 at the Southport Invitational on Saturday. The BHS junior’s time earned him a third place finish and led the Bulldogs to eighth place in the 18-team field. “It was a breakout race for Hayden,” BHS coach Leo Turchyn commented. “We all knew he could do it. “This is another step for him on his way to even better things,” he added. It was a good day for the other Bulldogs as well. Personal best times were recorded by Collin Koury (17:33), Nick Vodzak (18:10), James Call (18:44) and Scott Gryspeerdt (19:27). The Lady Bulldogs raced to a fourth place finish in th girls division. Zionsville, Brownsburg and Avon finished ahead of the Lady Bulldogs. Steacy Gryspeerdt and Alexandra Lake each placed in the Top 25 for Batesville. Gryspeerdt was 13th followed by Lake in 17th. Other top finishers for Batesville included Laurel Washburn (28th), Emily Morrison (31st), Holly Keck (32nd), Jordan Lowery (34th) and Hannah Lehfeldt (36th). “We finally got a cooler day to run,” BHs coach Ronnie McAllister commented. “With that and great competition, our team really stepped it up a notch. “This is the time of season we want to see improvement, and we really got it,” he added. BHS hosts North runners Batesville hosted North Decatur and both the boys and girls teams were easy winners. The boys team defeated the Chargers by 22 points. Merkel ran away from the rest of the field and to place first for the Bulldogs. Koury was his closest competitor in second. Call (4th), Vodzak (5th) and Gryspeerdt (6th) rounded out the top finishers for the boys. The Lady Bulldogs turned in a perfect score of 15 to post the victory over North. Gryspeerdt set the pace for the Lady Bulldog as they took the top six places. Falling in behind the race winner were Lake (2nd), Washburn (3rd), Lowery (4th), Lehfeldt (5th) and Holly Keck (6th).