by Chuck Landis email@example.com www.chronicle-tribune.com
Oak Hill freshman Shallen Lenhart made a bid for a state finals berth Saturday at the New Prairie Semistate girls’ cross country meet before falling back to a 26th place finish.
Lenhart broke with the lead pack and was running in the top five early in the 5-kilometer race. She never fell out of the top 30 and finished with a personal best time of 19 minutes, 51 seconds, which also was a school freshman record.
“Shallen ran strong today,” Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner said. “I was worried she pushed it too much, but she fought hard … and accomplished her personal goal of breaking 20 minutes.”
The Oak Hill boys finished 17th with 465 points out of 20 teams competing in the semistate. Luke Colvin led the Eagles with a 75th place finish in 17:27.
“We definitely ran a lot better today than we did a week ago at regional,” Brunner said. “This was by far one of our better days pack-wise.
“We just weren’t far enough up to really push some teams. But being in a position coming in to possibly beat no one we just wanted to make sure we competed well and looked the part, and I feel that we did that.”
A tight pack with the Eagles’ top five runners finishing within 30 seconds of each other contributed to their improved showing. Connor Mitchener was the No. 2 runner, finishing 83rd in 17:36, and Ryan Miller also cracked the top 100 in 98th place in 17:49.
Also scoring was Collin Brown and Jon Hochstedler, who were running together and finished in 104th (17:55) and 105th places (17:56), respectively. Trace Nolder was right behind in 107th (17:57), and David Horner was 119th (18:17).
Oak Hill was competing in a boys’ semistate meet for the ninth time in 10 years and seventh time in Brunner’s eight seasons as coach.
“Today was a very good day overall,” Brunner said. “It’s tough when you don’t have any real chance to advance to set goals and stay motivated.
“But whether it was with set times or just trying to better ourselves from a week ago, I feel we set very realistic goals and we were able to accomplish all of them.”
The top 15 individuals advance to the state finals Saturday on the campus of Indiana State University, Terre Haute. Although Lenhart fell 11 places short, Brunner said her performance impressed him throughout the season.
“She had a great freshman year,” Brunner said. “She was really overshadowed at times and flew under the radar, but she had the best year of any freshman girl I have ever been associated with.
“She set herself up for runs at state the next three years. She looked at me after the race and said her goal is to never run in that meet or on that course again and not walk away as a state qualifier,” Brunner added.