Hornocker All-State And 11th At State Meet; Gamble 32nd

Posted on October 29, 2017 in Fall Sports, Girl's Cross Country

BY SCOTT HUNT
shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

TERRE HAUTE–Simply put, Saturday was one of the most historic days in Grant County high school cross country.
Just three runners qualified to compete against 208 of Indiana’s most elite runners, Mississinewa’s Brennan Butche along with Oak Hill’s Margo Hornocker and Mollie Gamble, and all three proved they themselves are elite, or on the verge of becoming just that.
Hornocker, who made the trip to Terre Haute in each of the past two seasons, only to walk away with somewhat disappointing finishes, ending 123rd in 2015 as a sopho more and 64th last year. 
Her bittersweet ending to the last two seasons served as motivation for her senior trip to state, and Hornocker cashed in big. 
She too, made her way towards the front of the pack right after the starting gun fired and maintained her position throughout.
“I was just trying to relax and kind of look at the girls that were around me get in a good position in that first mile and really work hard that second mile where it gets really hilly,” Hornocker said. “I tried to hold my position and move up a little bit the whole time. I was really cold, my face was so numb and I was coughing a
lot during the race but I felt really good and strong.”
Hornocker also said her two years of experience on the course and competing against the top competition played a big factor in more than a minute and 20 seconds off her 2016 time.
“I’ve learned so much from the past two years and I went into this race a lot more focused, just like mentally more in it,” she said. “The whole time I knew where I was on the course and how much I had left so I felt like I ran a lot smarter race this year.”
By virtue of her finish, Hornocker earned a spot on the Indiana All Star team set to compete against the best seniors from Illinois, Michigan and Ohio on Nov. 19 in Kettering, Ohio. She becomes only the second girl from Grant County, and fourth runner overall in county history to achieve that honor. Marcy DeVoe (1988), Neno Bellinotti (2005) and Cameron Balser (2008), all also from Oak Hill, are the only other runners to be all stars.
For Golden Eagles coach Paige Brunner, it was finally satisfying ending to the third great season Hornocker has put together. It was also tough for him to put into words what Hornocker has meant to him and Oak Hill’s program.
“About all I can say about Margo is thank you,” said Brunner, as he neared tears reflecting on her day’s accomplishment and her stellar career.
“She owed this to herself today, I don’t want to say the course owed it to her,” he added. “You had some girls split her up that probably aren’t normally there and you had some teams fighting for positions and that’s tough. She was intent with about a K to go and she had to fight those girls off coming down the stretch. It would have been real easy for her to from 10th to 25th in that stretch.”
While Hornocker was making county history, Gamble most definitely showed she has the potential over the next two seasons to create some of her own. Gamble’s 32nd place finish equaled that of DeVoe’s in 88. 
Brunner set a top-50 finish as a successful day and was thrilled to have his talented sophomore finish much higher than that.
“She’s had  phenomenal season, for any grade would take that, There’s a lot of seniors that would kill to be in the top 32 today,” Brunner said. “She ran a great race. Every time my eyes went off of Margo and looked back for Mollie, she was doing what Mollie does. 
“She was in top 60 and then the top 50 and I want to say she go as high as about 25th,” he added. “The one thing she doesn’t have right now is just the strength – that last stretch is brutal.
A lot of girls were moving, but she was getting after it. For her to be 32nd is a great end to the season. A majority of the time it would be phenomenal but when
you’re number two behind Margo, it kind of gets lost a little bit.”
Aside from finishing as high in the order as possible, Gamble set her sights on breaking the 19 minute mark, and easily met her goal. 
“I did really well because I know the course now after I did it last year, so I just had more of a feel  for it,:” said Gamble. “Before the race (coach) Brunner was telling us to try to get some strides in on the turns and pass people and just do your own race. I did that and I did really well.”
Gamble also has her sights set on bigger things in the future
“I just want to keep moving up so next year maybe top-10 and then senior year I want to go win it,” she said.

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