MUNCIE — Pendleton Heights got a runnerup finish from Avry Carpenter in the boys Hoosier Heritage Conference cross country race and got a team runnerup finish from the girls squad in Saturday’s meet at Muncie Sportsplex.
They may not have won titles, but they have gained momentum as the cross country postseason begins this weekend with the 12-team Pendleton Heights Sectional.
Carpenter placed second with a time of 16:43.30 in the 5K race. He was just 1.19 seconds behind Mt. Vernon’s Tristan Trevino (16:42.11).
Mt. Vernon’s girls edged Pendleton Heights and New Palestine in the girls team competition. The Marauders scored 61 points. PH had 70, and NP had 71.
“I’m going to be pleased when I walk away later (Saturday) and think about it,” Pendleton Heights girls coach Melissa Hagerman said. “Right now, we’re so close to being first it is still stinging a bit. I hope they carry that into sectional and the rest of the tournament. Mt. Vernon and New Pal are great teams. I’m thrilled to be in the hunt with them.”
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Three of the Pendleton Heights girls finished in the Top 15, garnering All-HHC honors.
Senior Laney Ricker placed third with a time of 20:15.87. Frosh Ava Jarrell was eighth, clocking in at 20:41.79. Senior Ella Dixon edged out classmate Berkeley Lord for the final all-conference position. Dixon was 15th in 21:40.81. Lord was 16th in 21:42.94.
Rounding out the Arabians scoring runners was sophomore Abby Davidson. She placed 28th in 22:49.99. Sophomore Jaycee Thurman was 29th in 22:52.80. Olivia Welpott, another sophomore, was 31st with a time of 22:57.42.
“My seniors, holy cow!” Hagerman praised. “They, and Ava, were our top runners. I had a senior (Dixon) that ran third for the team. Beginning of this week, had to make a decision on who I was going to run, her or two other girls. She ran out of her head today.”
Carpenter was one of three Arabians to finish in the Top 10 of the boys race. Pendleton Heights’ fourth runner finished in the 36th spot.
Mt. Vernon ran away with the team competition with 30 points. Greenfield-Central was second with 68. Yorktown scored 91, just five less points than the fourth-place Arabians (96).
“I’m happy with the performance,” Pendleton Heights coach Alan Holden said. “I had three runners run real well today. We concentrated on how many could make the all-conference team and make the Top 15.
“I thought the best position we could get (as a team) would be third, so I’m a little disappointed we got fourth. We have to have, with our team this year, everyone show up. If someone has a bad race, we struggle.”
Following Carpenter’s runner-up spot, William Coggins finished seventh in 16:59.94. Andrew Blake was 10th in 17:08.70.
Other PH runners included senior Gabriel Holland (36th, 19:12.84), junior Jason Lyst (41st, 19:51.25), senior Shawn Brown (49th, 22:00.12) and junior Jack Goehring (52nd, 23:10.30).
At the sectional, the top five teams and top 10 individuals not on the top five teams advance to the regional, which will also take place at Muncie Sportsplex.
Hagerman said, for her group, they want to keep it simple as they progress through the postseason.
“You have to go race and not overthink,” she said. “You just gotta race. Drop (thinking) about times and everything else; you just have to race people. It’s pretty simple. If you try to complicate it, it’s not going to work for you.”
Holden said, “We should be OK in the sectional. (Hamilton Southeastern) and Fishers are a couple rated schools in the state, but we should be right behind them. With the Top 5 going to the regional, we should be in that mix.”