PENDLETON, Ind. — Racing right after the Pendleton Heights boys team at the Madison County Cross Country Meet on Tuesday, the girls team wanted to show whatever the boys could do, they could do better.
And they did.
The Arabians captured the team title and finished with seven in the top 10. Emma Manchess took the individual crown with a time of 20:44 in the 3.1-mile course.
The boys team also won both titles, but placed seven in the top 11.
“Our goal was to get seven in the top 10, and we beeped it in there,” Pendleton Heights coach Melissa Hagerman said. “It wasn’t beautiful, but I expect sectional to be faster.”
The Arabians were also trying to get their first through seventh runners bunched as close together as possible.
“I’ve got some girls that are pushing closer to her (Manchess) and that’s our goal that’s going to help us get through sectionals and up to semi-state and maybe get to state,” she said.
The Anderson Indians fared respectably, finishing with four runners in the top 15. But coach Gary Courter thought they should’ve done better.
“Our girls know what they have to do. They know they can’t make any mistakes and do well,” he said. “We just didn’t get much performance out of our fifth, sixth and seventh girls.”
The girls’ mindset may have hurt their chances.
“They came to the line saying they hate this course,” Courter said. “That didn’t set the tone real well at the start. But I know our top three let it rip, and Toryn Harvey finished strong.”
Courter thinks his team could advance as far as semi-state.
“If Melissa (Stephanie) can get healthy and get in our top five, we can still have a shot at it,” Courter said. “And Chloe Miller, last year’s Herald Bulletin cross country player of the year, is finally getting better. We live and die by our seniors.”
As the Arabians look ahead, Hagerman wants her team to get to state and compete. Her strategy: working them hard with unordinary practices.
“We did a long run yesterday and normally don’t do that before a big meet,” she said. “I was still pretty confident that we could pull this out after a long run. And I think it helped them mentally.”
But there’s plenty of work ahead.
“We’re still training pretty hard and have plenty miles to cut,” Hagerman said. “Come semi-state, their legs ought to feel 100 times better than they feel right now. It’s been a fun year so far. They are pushing each other in practice and getting better. We are not done yet.”