ANDERSON, Ind. — A good showing by Pendleton Heights’ Emma Manchess and the Arabians’ girls cross country team along with the Anderson boys and girls teams led to happy coaches and good results at Shadyside Park for the Anderson High School cross country invitational on Tuesday.
On a cold, blustery late afternoon Manchess smoked the competition as she paced the Arabians to a tie for first-place with Guerin Catholic. She finished with a time of 20:38.41 on the way to the win.
“I expected Emma to win it, and I was real pleased with Chelsea (Blackwell) and Anna (Dudley), too, because they were right behind her,” said Arabians coach Melissa Hagerman.
Hagerman also said that she was resting a few of her runners Tuesday afternoon to give them a chance to heal from some early season injuries. To finish in a tie for first with a couple of her runners out left her pleased with the results on the day.
“Yes, I’m real happy,” Hagerman said after the race. “We’re getting ready for Blackford on Saturday. We’re just really working on staying healthy right now and getting faster.”
The Arabians put four runners in the top 10 on the day, which pleased their coach. She said she would’ve liked to have seen more in the upper echelon but was pleased nonetheless.
“Yeah, I did,” Hagerman said of whether she expected to have four of the top-10 runners. “I would like five, I’m not going to lie, but four is good, four is good.”
Most cross country meets are run on natural grass and dirt, and Hagerman worried that running on a cement surface like that at Shadyside Park might give her girls a false sense of speed. Manchess capitalized by running one of her fastest times.
“Running on this blacktop stuff it made them feel faster, because they’re used to running on dirt and grass and all that,” said Hagerman. “So it kind of gave them that illusion like, ‘I’m a little faster.’”
The Indians don’t have a cross country course to run, but they do practice at Shadyside during the summer time. That gives them the sense of having a home meet in the Anderson Invitational.
“It’s good. We run practice out here during the summer time , and usually two times a week we do our mile interval,” said 36-year coach Garry Courter. “It’s something we’ve ran and practiced on. So it makes us feel like it’s a home course. So we like it that way. It’s our only home meet, we’d like to have a couple more teams here, but it’s always turned out pretty good.”
He said that despite a second-place finish to Guerin Catholic he was pleased with his boys and girls cross country team.
Last year’s semi-state qualifier and The Herald-Bulletin’s cross-country runner of the year, Chloe Miller, can only race once a week, but her performance pleased her coach.
“Chloe is only allowed to race once a week on her injuries, so she backed off today and was helping Victoria (Kennedy) and Kelsey and the rest of the girls with their races,” said Courter. “I think it’s a good team, I think the chemistry is good, and I’m real pleased. I know most coaches say, ‘Oh, I’m real happy, I’m real happy, but, well, I say it and I mean it.”
The Anderson girls finished in third-place, while the boys got a second-place finish behind the running of Josh Burks (sixth), Stone Robbins (seventh) and Zach Gillam (10th).