BY DEAN HOCKNEY AND THE IHSAA
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Carmel swept the boys and girls team titles in Terre Haute but Mishawaka’s Anna Rohrer was the talk of the day setting a girls state finals record while Barr-Reeve’s Connor Sorrells took the boys crown.
For the Eastern Lady Comets, it was a very respectable seventh place finish against some of the biggest schools in Indiana. Carmel won with 66 points to easily outpace second place West Lafayette (147). Columbus North finished third (158), Franklin Central fourth (160), Hamilton Southeastern fifth (173), Fort Wayne Carroll sixth (174) and Eastern seventh (206). The rest of the top 10 included Northridge (228), Fishers (300) and Westfield (320).
Individually for Eastern, Bethany Neeley stood on the podium with a fifth place finish in a time 18:04. Twin sister Brittany was 16th with a time of 18:59. The top five Lady Comet runners all finished in the top 89 as Sarah Wagner finished 45th (19:45), Carly Jones was 52nd (19:49) and Jessica Sprinkles was 89th (20:19). Also running but not scoring were Avery Ewing in 133rd (21:12) and Breann Donson in 165th (23:31).
The Lady Comets will miss its four seniors who have paced a remarkable run at Eastern – the Neeley sisters, Wagner and Donson. One year ago, the Comets finished 15th in the state. This year, the squad reached as high as fifth in the state rankings and completed four-year sweeps on the Mid-Indiana Conference and IHSAA Logansport Sectional. They posted perfect scores of 15 in this year’s MIC and sectionals en route to a repeat Culver Academies Regional title. They also finished as New Prairie Semi-State runners-up and have been part of three MIC Girls All-Sports Championships.
Girls championship race
Rohrer, just a sophomore and making her first appearance in the state finals, battled defending state champion Ashley Erba throughout but then pulled away from the Warsaw senior down the final straightaway. She crossed the line in 17:13.2 destroying the state finals record set by Erba last year in 18:05.6. Erba finished as the runner-up in 17:29.2.
West Lafayette’s Bobbie Burgess finished third in 17:51.6 and Columbus North’s Mackenzie Caldwell was fourth in 17:55.8.
It was the third consecutive state championship for the Carmel girls team coached by Mark Ellington. Gina Genco led a trio of Greyhounds in the top 10 overall finishing sixth overall in 18:31.3. Kelcy Welch was ninth in 18:38.8 and Haley Harris was 10th in 18:45.5.
Boys championship race
In the boys race, Zach Panning of Fort Wayne Concordia moved out to a sizeable lead through the first 3,000 meters but Barr-Reeve’s Connor Sorrells caught him and pulled away late to win in 15:21.3. The Barr-Reeve senior became the first runner from his school to win a cross country state title.
Panning finished as the runner-up in 15:26.5, Troy Reeder of Hamilton Southeastern was third in 15:28.8, Jackson Bertoli of Terre Haute South was fourth in 15:34.2 and Kyle Eller of Lowell ended fifth in 15:35.2.
The Carmel boys team, coached by Erhard Bell, captured the crown for the first time since 2008 ending Columbus North’s run of three straight years. Three Greyhounds finished 15-16-17 oveall to lead the way including Bobby Browning in 15:55.2, Charlie Watson in 15:56.9 and Ben Veatch in 15:58.2, respectively.
Mental Attitude Award Recipients
Following the races, Warsaw’s Ashley Erba and Carmel’s Charlie Watson were announced as the winners of the respective mental attitude awards by the IHSAA Executive Committee. Ashley is the daughter of Scott and Karen Erba of Winona Lake and Charlie is the son of Andrew and Gretchen Watson of Carmel. The Committee annually presents the awards to the seniors determined best demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.