Tuesday evening, the Monroe Central boys cross country team finished a distant 28 points behind Muncie Central at the Delta sectional, denying the Golden Bears a first title in school history.
That only made it all the sweeter for them when officials announced Muncie Central before Monroe at Saturday’s regional on the same course at the Muncie Sportsplex, signifying the Bears had edged the Bearcats for the final spot at semi-state in New Haven. A cheer went up from the Monroe fans and team when Muncie Central’s name was called out, and coach Ron Braun said it took something special to stage the reversal.
“They went in Tuesday thinking they could win the sectional for the first time ever, and the thing about it, a lot of kids would just stop and quit,” Braun said. “Wednesday after school, we didn’t stop. They wanted to work harder and harder.”
Monroe Central, led by Chase Bly and Tanner Thompson, edged the Bearcats by 22 points to become one of five area teams to advance from the regional to semi-state, along with eight individuals on both sides. The girls teams from Delta (fifth) and Jay County (second) moved on as did both squads from Yorktown.
“That was the goal from the beginning of the season,” said Yorktown boys and girls coach Jared Turner, who noted pack running was an important part of his teams’ success Saturday. “So hard to get there. It’s a really good feeling. It’s gratification, because five or sixth months of work comes down to one meet.”
Frankton was the overall boys team winner, and its top runner, Parker Williams, set a course record with a time of 16 minutes, 30.51 seconds. Jay County’s Dylan Cope was the top local finisher at second, and he edged out Delta Sectional champion Jace Hirst from Muncie Central by less than a second.
On the girls side, Delta’s Jenna Parsons staged her own reversal of fortunes from the sectional. After finishing third Tuesday, 11 seconds behind winner Abigail Johnson from Jay County, Parsons topped Johnson by eight seconds Saturday. The Eagle sophomore’s time of 19:58.92 was good for third place behind a pair of runners from Pendleton Heights, which had five runners in the top 11, scored 29 points and finished 56 points ahead of second-place Jay County.
Parsons is making her second trip to semi-state, and she said she came into the regional with a strategy in regards to Johnson.
“Stay behind her, make her feel like I’m there the whole time,” Parsons said. “But when I passed her, I could tell with her breathing that she knew that she was spent.”