Saturday, September 20, 2014

Indiana Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships-4 of Top 6 Indiana Teams-- Women's race recap

The Indiana Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships were held yesterday, Friday September 19 on a beautiful sunny afternoon with temperatures in the low 70's--ideal for spectators but perhaps a bit warm for the runners. There were a few muddy spots here and there on the course but the footing was quite good by X-C standards.

Purdue University has a course that is exclusively for Cross Country races, not a course that winds around a golf course. That makes it a little easier for spectators to get out on the course to observe up close and cheer on the runners at strategic points during the race. There is also a nice hill close to the finish line that gives a pretty good overview of how the race is progressing for those who want a single vantage point.
Spectator Hill viewed from the finishing area below.

But there are enough trees around the course that the runners are sometimes out of sight for several minutes at a time. There is a nice completely open and visible stretch of nearly 300 yards that serves as the start of the race and is repeated on subsequent laps for the 8K (on the 2nd and final lap for the 5K course the women's teams were scheduled to run on).

Looking out over the finish area toward the start of the race in the middle distance
Eventually the runners finish their 8K or 5K race at the foot of this hill.
View of the finish line area with runner's recovery area out of picture to the right.
There were four races on the afternoon, starting with separate Open women's and men's races, followed by the Championship races for women and men. This recap will focus on the Championship races. The Big State Meet (Division I universities) and the Little State Meet (all other Indiana colleges and universities) were run together but scored separately. Today's post will cover the women's race and the men's race will be covered tomorrow.

The women's teams ran first over a shortened 3.0 mile course (rather than the usual 5K [=3.1 miles] course. Things were tight for much of the first loop of the course (about 3k or 1.8 miles) but then two
Tightly bunched, about 600 yards into the race.

Second wave of runners with IUPUI's  Jordan Hanaway (Captain) and Savannah Turner
runners, Amanda Behnke, a sophomore from IU, and Alex Berends, a first year student at Taylor, established a gap. Berends held tough with Behnke through almost to the finish when Behnke pulled away but after that it was (almost) all the IU Hoosiers with just a few Purdue runners interspersed and
Behnke and Berends ahead of the pack at about the two-thirds point.
then the IUPUI pack prevailed over Indiana State and Ball State. Berends held her pace to the end, losing to Behnke by 15 seconds but beating her closest Little State opponent by over 40 seconds. Berends demonstrated clearly why she had been named the NAIA National Female Runner of the Week earlier this month.

In the Big State meet, Behnke led Whitman to the line for the Hoosiers as they finished 1-2 in 17:09.9 and 17:30.3. Junior Boilermaker, Katie Hoevet closed quickly over the last mile and wound up less than 4 seconds behind Whitman. But IU took 4 of the next 5 places to ice the win with 19 points. Amelia Reynolds[17:35.2], the Neeley sisters, Bethany [17:36.0] and Brittany [17:36.9], and Chanli Mundy [17:37.8] did the damage.

IU's 2nd runner, Jill Whitman (1st yr.) in the gap between Berends and the rest of the pack.
In addition to Hovet, Boilermaker Junior, Michelle Porter, broke up the Hoosier pack with her 6th place finish in 17:36.6. Hope Schmelzle was the 3rd Purdue runner in in 9th followed by a tight 3-runner pack of Kiara McIntosh, Gabrielle Broschard, and Kristen Fritts in 12th through 14th place. That was not enough to catch the Hoosiers but ti was enough to keep the up and coming IUPUI Jaguars  well behind as Purdue scored 43 points to IUPUI's 103 points for third.

Although IUPUI was unable to get anyone into the top 15 they had a tight enough pack to defeat Indiana State and Ball State who finished fourth and fifth respectively with 117 and 137 respectively.

The Jaguar pack was led by Leah Brooks, 18th [18:09];

Leah Brooks, 1st IUPUI runner, establishing a gap on the remainder of the field.
Savannah Turner, 23rd [18:31.8], 1st year runner, Kelsey Tyler, 25th [18:38.3];
Jordan Hanaway, 27th [18:45.7]; 1st year runner, Mindy Whidden, 29th [18:48.6]
Mindy Whidden, winning her conference title for Hobart HS last year

and Julie Riggins, 30th [18:49.2].

Nicole Lucas finished 11th for the Sycamores in 17:52.9 but the gaps back to their 2nd through 5th
Nicole Lucas, Indiana State's top runner

runners were too large. First year runner, Taylor Austin, was their second runner in at 24th [18:34] and Sydney Dickerson, their third runner was at 31st [18:52.4]. First year runners, Danielle Muse and Jessi Conley ran well together, finishing in 34th and 35th but were not able to break up the main Jaguar pack of 8 runners.

The story was similar for Ball State but just notched down a bit. The Edon sisters, Courtney and
Courtney and Caitlyn Edon, top Ball State runners

 Caitlyn, led the way for the Cardinal with a 14th [18:03.8] and 21st finish respectively [18:26.3] but then there was a gap of over a minute to the third Ball State runner who finished in 39th place, 1st year Danielle Dahl. Their scoring was rounded out by Ericka Rinehart and Jessica Bryzek in 41st and 42nd.

Evansville closed out the team scoring with 143 points, led by Laurel Wolfe  in 26th (18:42.9), Alyssa Moran in 28th(18:48.2), Loren Oboikovitz in 37th, Kirsten Perry (38th), and Elizabeth Kingshott (40th).

Two of the top 6 Indiana teams were absent, Butler and Notre Dame. Actually Butler did send some of their second tier runners to compete in the Open race but their top runners were kept out.

Butler is pointing towards their big race next Saturday, the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, MN. It will be interesting to see how they do as a test of mid-season fitness; that meet typically invites some of the top 20 teams nationally.

Notre Dame was hosting the National Catholic Championships as they do every year. Notre Dame did well in those races with the women winning convincingly but the men being surprised by Canisius to finish second. The ND coach described it as a 'wake-up' call for the men's team.

Now in its 19th year, the event has sometimes attracted some of the big eastern running powers like Georgetown, Providence and Villanova, but not this year. For any Indiana spectators interested in those teams, Butler University is hosting the Big East Cross Country Championships on the storied cross country course at Northview Church in Carmel Indiana on Halloween day, October 31st. It's a beautiful course; let's hope it is also a beautiful, crisp fall day. Interestingly enough that course will also play host to the 2014 USA Track and Field National 5K Masters Championships on the following weekend.

Many of these same teams will be in action again at the Notre Dame Invitational in two weeks.

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