The Fishers High School boys cross country team is coming off its first regional win since 2007 and second overall after topping the field at the Oct. 17 Noblesville Regional.
The Tigers are the No. 1-ranked team in the state heading into Saturday’s Carmel Semistate at 5,000-meter Northview Christian Church, and coach Nathan Warnecke believes this team is better than the ’07 team that went on to win the state title.
Despite those accolades, Fishers might not even make the top three in the boys meet, which begins at 10:30 a.m. The girls race follows at 11:15 a.m.
The field of talent in the Carmel Semistate, one of four sites throughout the state, is ridiculously deep with eight ranked teams including No. 2 Carmel, No. 3 Avon, No. 6 Westfield and No. 9 Hamilton Southeastern. The top six teams, plus the top 10 runners on non-qualifying teams, will advance to the Oct. 31 state finals in Terre Haute. That means at least two ranked teams won’t be making it to the state meet.
Warnecke said he kept track of his top five runners’ combined times from the regional and the group was more than a minute faster than his ’07 squad. Six of his seven runners set personal bests, yet…
“There’s a chance we have the best team we’ve ever had by far and we could still finish fourth in our own semistate,” Warnecke said. “It’s kind of humbling how good, not only in central Indiana but throughout the whole state, cross country has gotten.”
Carmel finished second to the Tigers in the regional by 15 points (52-67) but Greyhounds coach Colin Altevogt rested defending individual state champion Ben Veatch as part of his racing schedule. The senior’s return Saturday boosts the Greyhounds’ chances.
“There are a lot of good teams in Indiana this year, and we feel like we’re one of them,” Altevogt said. “If the first two rounds are any indication, it’s going to be really close at the semistate and state meet.”
Avon is another team in the mix. The Orioles, in search of their first semistate crown, cruised to the Ben Davis regional title over Zionsville. Avon has a strong pack, placing five in the top 14, led by junior Rhys Grealish (15:48).
Brownsburg’s Hari Sathyamurthy won at Ben Davis in 15:26, while Westfield’s Alec Hartman won at Noblesville in 15:16. They should be in the mix today for the top individual spot along with Veatch, Brebeuf’s David Coffey, Fishers’ Trevor Thompson and HSE’s Gabe Fendel.
Girls Carmel Semistate also loaded
The Carmel Semistate also features a strong field of girls teams, with the top-ranked Greyhounds leading the pack. Carmel scored 53 points to win the regional, with 10th-ranked Cathedral second with 77. The semistate also includes No. 7 Zionsville, No. 15 Noblesville, and Hamilton Southeastern, Avon, Fishers and Westfield, who are respectively ranked 19th through 22nd.
“This group is certainly capable of winning a state title,” said Carmel coach Mark Ellington. “They have put in the work all season and are tuned up to put together some strong races in the next couple of weeks.”
Pacing the Greyhounds is junior Sarah Leinheiser, whose 17:24.6 at the regional was a school, course and meet record.
Pendleton Heights senior Alex Buck notched a nearly identical time in the Delta Regional, winning in a PR 17:24.5. The No. 8 Arabians, who took five of the top six regional spots, compete in Saturday’s 1:45 p.m. New Haven Semistate.
Buck and Leinheiser’s times – unofficially the third and fourth fastest in state history based on available records – could set up a great state finals individual race.
“Alex is much stronger than last year and (was) able to put in a solid summer of training,” said Arabians coach Melissa Hagerman. “(She) most definitely is a contender for the state meet.”