WHERE ARE THEY NOW
August 27, 2013Rossville Middle High School
HHC teams ready to run: Hornets return key runners in Heffernan, Bright
The Hornets’ girls’ cross country team returns their No. 1 runner from a season ago in sophomore Lauren Bright. Bright won the Clinton County Meet and HHC titles a season ago, and was one spot shy of qualifying for the New Prairie Semistate.
But with the new qualifying rules – the top 10 runners among teams that don’t qualify for the next round of the postseason advance as individuals – puts Bright in great position for semistate qualification.
Bright is one of many two-sport athletes on the cross country team, as she’s also playing volleyball.
“Barring injury, she should make it to semistate with no trouble at all,” said Rossville head coach Rick Foster.
Slated to run at the No. 2 spot is junior Candace Waldron, who missed the half of last year with concussion-like symptoms. Sophomore Kaitlyn Mills will be the No. 3 runner, with junior Brooke Hughes – who’s also playing soccer – at the No. 4 spot, and freshman Sarah Hendrickson at No. 5.
“This year, Candace is healthy, moving well and working really hard. She has a fairly good chance of making semistate,” Foster said. “Kaitlyn’s coming along better than she was last year. She had injury problems and that really messed up her stride and she’s over that. Once Sarah gets in better shape her times will keep getting better and better.”
On the boys’ side, Rossville’s top two runners – junior Solomon Heffernan and senior Austin Meyers – were hindered by injuries much of last season. But that didn’t stop Heffernan from earning an 11th place finish in the sectional and 10th in the regional to qualify for the semistate as an individual.
Foster said that, in a time trial last week, Heffernan beat his time from his freshman year and was just a few seconds off his mark from last year.
“Solomon is running great. He’s just looking super,” Foster said. “We’ll know more on Saturday but right now he’s looking really good. He put in a fair amount of work over the summer.”
Foster said that Meyers, the No. 2 runner, is still having the same hip problems that bothered him last fall – not to mention a broken hand suffered during baseball – but that therapy has helped Meyers heal.
“We think he’ll be fine,” Foster said. “He has a lot of natural talent and once he gets a few meets under his belt I think he’ll be doing quite well.”
Foster has high hopes for No. 3 runner, junior Josiah Cropp, who’s also battled his fair share of injuries. Freshman Grant Clark is the favorite to be the No. 4 runner and junior Billy Dotson is the No. 5 runner. Jayden Rosen and Bailey Spear, both of which play soccer, are also options.
The Bulldogs’ girls’ team should be a formidable one, led by the return of junior Sami Smith, who ran XC for state runner-up West Lafayette last year. With Smith back, along with the return of senior Leilah Miller, junior Kelly Fox and junior Katelyn Ellis, that gives coach Tammy Campbell reason for optimism.
“We haven’t really talked much as a team but I don’t see why we can’t make it out of sectionals or regionals,” Campbell said. “My goal for this team is semistate, definitely.”
Miller was a regional qualifier last year.
The Bulldogs also get a boost with new runner Demaris Crum, a senior, who comes over from volleyball. Crum was a mid-distance runner with the track team and Campbell is hopeful that she can channel that expertise for cross country.
Campbell is also hopeful the Bulldogs can win the conference title and challenge Frankfort for the county title.
“We had a terrible county meet last year. We didn’t run the course right. We’re hoping to redeem ourselves at county,” Campbell said. “Sami’s been looking real good this fall. I think she’s happy to be back with us and the girls are happy to have her back.
“We’ve tried to change our practices a little bit. We’re going a little harder at practice and we usually ease into it the first two weeks. We’ve been running hard all summer. We’ve put a lot of miles in.”
On the boys’ side, senior Adam Miller will be the No. 1 runner, with Devin George at No. 2 and freshman Key Taulbee at No. 3. Options for the final two spots are senior Nathan Robertson, freshman Jake Spietel, sophomore Chandler Watson, and seniors Ryon Herin and Lewis Reynolds.
Senior Emma Tolley and junior Emily Sabens are expected to be the top two runners for the Gophers’ girls’ team this year. A freshman, Rosie Tolley, is the favorite to be the No. 3 runner while sophomores Morgan Shields and Miranda Robertson should be the No. 4 and 5 runners, respectively.
“Rosie’s got the type of motor that will take you someplace, and she has the skill,” said Prairie head coach Byron Garrett. “I expect Emma and Emily to be fighting it out for that first spot.”
Others contending for varsity spots include seniors Abby Gingerich and Paige Schoonveld, sophomore Morghann Heidle and freshman Hayley Jackson.
“It depends on who wants it the most,” Garrett said.
On the boys’ side, junior Thomas Hill is the top returning runner and the favorite to be the No. 1 runner. Sophomore Austin Biery and junior Merrick McGraw will be fighting for the No. 2 and 3 spots, freshman Ian Newhart at No. 4 and sophomore Jakub Wallsmith at No. 5.
“They put in more miles this summer and seem to have the right attitude to work hard and get where they need to,” Garrett said. “They’re running the extra miles they have to run, and we can improve on all the times we had last year. I have no doubt they’re going to improve this year.
“I think attitude is the key.”
Garrett is in his first year as the Gophers’ head man, taking over for the retired Bobby Smith, who coached the team for 34 years.