Hornocker Wraps Up High School Career With 5th Place Finish At State Meet

Posted on June 2, 2018 in Girl's Track, Spring Sports

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This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative. Senior Margo Hornocker receives her 5th place medal at the state meet.

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
BLOOMINGTON – It wasn’t quite the way she wanted to end her career, but Oak Hill senior Margo Hornocker further cemented her place as the top girls’ distance runner in Grant County history during the state finals Friday at Indiana University.

Hornocker entered the state 1,600-meter championship with the fifth-fastest regional time of the 27 girls who qualified, and she spent most of the first three laps in the four-lap race locked in a pack of six runners all battling for the same piece of track and a state championship.

But as the runners made their way towards the finish line to begin the bell lap, the lead pack started to separate. Sophomores Phoebe Bates from Carmel and Ava Gilliano of Valparaiso, along with senior Sophia Riggs from Zionsville waged a memorable battle down the stretch for the win. Bates (4:51.79) took the title but the top three was separated by only a second.

Hornocker finished fifth in 4:57.49 to re-set the fastest mile in Grant County history besting the 4:58.8 she ran in the Marion Sectional two weeks ago. She was just .35 seconds behind the defending 1,600 state champ, junior Emma Wilson of Greencastle.

Hornocker expected a fast pace from the start, and she helped push that pace for most of the race.

“I felt pretty good the first three laps because that’s the pace I’ve been doing in workouts,” Hornocker said. “Even though it was fast I felt like I could run at that pace. In the third lap I was right there and I was like I could totally win this and I was really confident. Then they just started to pull away and I didn’t stay with them like I wish I could have, but it was still good.”

The race played out a lot closer to how she wanted it to than last year when she was in an outside starting position and pushed toward the rear of the field. Hornocker battled through and around numerous runners to finish fourth in 5:00.54.

Just three girls eclipsed the five-minute mark last year while each of the top six went sub-minutes Friday.

“From the start I got where I wanted to be and I felt really confident with my spot,” Hornocker said. “I expected to start to way over down at the starting line, but I was up a little farther and I think that ended up helping me some because I never felt like I got boxed in.

“Towards the end of the third lap, half way through the third lap they definitely started pulling away a little bit,” she added. “That’s where I wish I could have stayed with them.”

Though Friday marked the last race of Hornocker’s career in an Oak Hill uniform, her top five finish earned her a spot on the senior Indiana All-Star team that will compete next Saturday at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

It’s the second such honor bestowed upon Hornocker during her senior season, as she earned a spot on the Indiana All-Star cross country team after finishing 11th in the state cross country finals in the fall.

In total, Hornocker finishes her career with five different Grant County all-time records and being an all-star for the second time is a fitting way to wrap up her competitive high school days.

“I wanted her to have a chance with a lap to go and she had that and we wanted her to be under five again and establish another personal best and she did that,” Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got a state champion and the top nine that are medalists. You wanted to make sure you had a medal around your neck.

“We could be greedy and sit here and say we wished she was a state champion and wished that she ran 4:50, but again you’re dealing with some girls up front that she’s never beat,” he added. “And she was right there with them and was just steps away from beating last year’s state champion. There’s a lot more positives to be taken away than to worry about where she finished. Top five in back-to-back years is awesome in an event that is normally dominated by younger girls.”

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