Starfires state bound
After three years of coming up short, South Adams’ boys cross country team finally broke through with a sixth place finish Saturday at the New Haven Semi-State at the Plex on the campus of IPFW, and earned its first-ever trip to the IHSAA State Championship meet.
South Adams, just one week after thinking it had won a regional title only to have it taken away after a scoring error was discovered, tallied 169 points and finished comfortably ahead of the next team (Fort Wayne Concordia with 195 points).
Fort Wayne Carroll won the semi-state championship with 71 points. Northridge was a distant second with 116. It was a four-team battle for positioning through the next four places with Bishop Dwenger taking third with 142 points, followed by South Bend Riley (149), Homestead (160) and South Adams. There was a separation of six seconds (top five times combined) between the third and sixth place teams.
The Starfires will toe the starting line at the state finals this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute. This is the same course that has hosted several NCAA Division I national championship meets. Admission to the meet is $8.
South Adams first broke through to the state finals two years ago when Evan Liechty made it individually after finishing third at the New Haven Semi-State. The Starfires did not get any runners into the top ten Saturday, but once they started crossing the finish line they did so en masse.
Sawyer Miller and Bailey McIntire maintained their group running ways, finishing nearly together in 12th and 13th place respectively. Miller hit the chute in 16:16.60 and McIntire (by far the best freshman in the field) finished in 16:20.25. Both Miller and McIntire finished well enough to advance individually had it not been for the team’s success.
The closest freshman to McIntire, Northrop’s Dustin Starnes, was 35 seconds back in 40th place.
Brody Shane gave South Adams three runners in the top 30 overall, taking 30th place in 16:47.01. Daniel Velasco was 69th in 17:11.83 and Daniel Steffen rounded out the Starfires’ top five scoring positions with a 107th place finish in 17:37.08.
Clayton Rhoades claimed 152nd for South Adams in 18:20.89 and Briar Goodwin was 175th in 19:54.90.
This will be the first time in 31 years that South Adams has been represented in a state championship contest. The last time was 1982 when the baseball team advanced to state. The only other South Adams team to reach the state level was in 1972, also in baseball.
Concordia’s Zachery Panning won the boys’ 5-kilometer race in 15:19.36 – more than 34 seconds ahead of Homestead’s Brayden Law in second place.
Bellmont took 15th in the team standings with 397 points. Mason Mendez led the Braves with a 78th place finish in 17:18.63. Thomas McNamara was 87th in 17:24.49.
South Adams freshman Kara Seffernick competed in the girls’ semi-state race and completed the 5-kilometer run in 21:30.33 – good for 122nd place. She was the lone representative from the South Adams girls’ team to make it out of regional this season.
Penn junior Maddie Woods broke away from a five-person pack to win the girls’ race in 18:10.36. Pendleton Heights sophomore Alex Buck was second in 18:18.37.
Bellmont sophomore Bailey Beery was in that five-person breakaway pack early, but faded a bit in the final half of the race, finishing 15th in 19:14.91. She was the eighth of 10 individuals to advance to the state meet.
Carroll won the girls’ team title with 69 points. Penn, Pendleton Heights, Northridge, Homestead and Huntington North claimed the next five spots respectively and advanced to state.
Huntington North’s girls actually tied for sixth with Fremont with 213 points, but got the final state berth on the sixth-runner tiebreaker.
NOTE: The South Adams cross country team will participate in the Berne Halloween Parade Tuesday night at 7. South Adams will have a send off for the team Friday at 12:15 p.m.
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