NASHVILLE, Ind. – When the leaders completed the first circuit of the 5K race course at Brown County and headed down the long straightaway to the halfway point, the semistate frontrunner was a surprise.
Floyd Central’s Kassidy Manning, the regional champion at Crawford County, had expected to finish comfortably among the top 10. But win? That was not the script.
Manning held that position until the 4K mark before being caught, and passed, by Bloomington North’s Grace Williams and Columbus North’s Rachel Brougher. Manning steadied down the stretch and finished third overall while powering the Highlanders to the state finals.
No.24 Floyd Central finished sixth in the 20-team girls field with 155 points. The top six, plus the top 10 individuals who were not members of qualifying teams, advanced to the IHSAA state meet in Terre Haute on Oct. 31.
Manning set a school record while finishing in 18:25.7. Williams’ late surge pushed her across the line first in 18:12.1, while Brougher was second in 18:19.3. Manning didn’t care who won as long as she propelled the Highlanders to the final stage of the state tournament series.
“Leading wasn’t the plan at all,” she said. “My legs weren’t feeling well today, but running is a mental game. I knew if I could push through it, I could do it.”
No.2 Columbus North won the team title with 42 points, followed by No.11 Bloomington North (80) and No.16 Seymour (104). Floyd coach Carl Hook had conceded the powerhouses their places, and he calculated the Highlanders would be close for one of the final spots. They claimed the last qualifying spot by 21 points.
“I just felt like, if we did what we do every week, we would be OK,” Hook said. “We knew who was who, who we had to beat.
“Kassidy went out, not afraid to take the lead. The last thing I tell her is ‘Run your race’, and she just knows how to do that. That was huge for us.”
Christian Academy’s McKenna Cavanaugh also qualified for the state meet, finishing ninth overall in 18:45.2.
In the boys race, Borden’s Julien Magallanes also set the early tone and concluded with similar results, a third-place finish that left him disappointed rather than elated.
Magallanes bolted to the front of the 178-runner pack and led for the first two miles. But he slipped back behind eventual Northview winner Cameron Trout (15:25.2) and Bloomington South’s Evan Franklin (15:44.2) to cross in 15:49.6.
“I just died,” said Magallanes, who has verbally committed to the University of Louisville. “I have no excuses. I just have to keep moving forward. It was just a bad race, a learning experience. No race is guaranteed.”
Silver Creek’s Cameron Stephens, who won the regional on the same course last week, finished fifth overall in 15:54.9, five seconds off his regional time.
“My expectations were really high,” Stephens said. “I knew if I ran my race, I’d be fine. That’s what I had to focus on. The first mile was cluttered, but once I got a little opening on the back side I decided to pick it up. I’m not a fast guy, so I have to pick it up in the middle, burn the kick out of everyone else, and hang on.”
Stephens powered the Dragons to the state meet as they finished sixth with 253 points, clipping Terre Haute North by only four points.
No.7 Columbus North won the team crown with 70 points, followed by Bloomington North (114) and Terre Haute South (122) in the 20-team field.
In addition to Magallanes, Eastern Pekin’s Josh Ratts (ninth in 16:06.3) and Christian Academy’s Skylar Stidam (11th in 16:11.1) advanced as individuals.
Team scores: Columbus North 70, Bloomington North 114, Terre Haute South 122, Bloomington South 147, Silver Creek 253, Terre Haute North 257, Evansville Memorial 260, Eastern Pekin 266, North Harrison 285, South Knox 294, Jennings County 319, Seymour 327, Princeton 329, Austin 330, New Albany 335, Evansville Reitz 396, Floyd Central 414, Jasper 420, Evansville Harrison 485
Top individuals: 1. Cameron Trout, Northview 15;25.2; 2. Evan Franklin, Bloomington South 15:44.2; 3. Julien Magallanes, Borden 15:49.6; 4. Matthew Schadler, Evan. Memorial 15:53.9; 5. Cameron Stephens, Silver Creek 15:54.9.
Team scores: Columbus North 42, Bloomington North 80, Seymour 104, Bloomington South 145, Terre Haute North 148, Floyd Central 155, Evansville Memorial 176, Jasper 207, Evansville North 257, Barr-Reeve 301, Evansville Mater Dei 323, Gibson Southern 333, Terre Haute South 404, Jeffersonville 438, Switzerland County 443, Columbus East 445, Owen Valley 456, New Albany 472, Forest Park 480, Jennings County 507
Top individuals: 1. Grace Williams, Bloomington North 18:12.1; 2. Rachel Brougher, Col. North 18:19.3; 3. Kassidy Manning, Floyd Central 18:25.7; 4. Ali Workman, Bloomfield 18:32.0; 5. Grace Saccone, Bloomington North 18:36.0