Andy Weatherford will be looking for his second state championship Saturday.
After winning the one-mile state championship race in track and field last spring, the Greencastle High School junior is looking to win a state title in the cross country Saturday. Weatherford finished fifth at the Franklin Central Semistate Saturday, advancing to the 60th annual state championship at Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Weatherford said. "This is actually right where I wanted to be. Top five is up there."
Weatherford finished with a time of 15:38, just three seconds behind the fourth-place runner. Pendleton Heights senior Brock Hagerman finished first in the race with a time of 15:03. Overall, Greencastle coach Mike Schimpf was pleased with the way Weatherford competed.
"He ran really well," Schimpf said. "We were trying to get him to slow down his first mile a little bit, but he ended up coming through at 4:54. So it was a little faster than maybe we hoped, but that's OK."
Weatherford started the season with hopes of finishing in the top three at semistate. However, an ankle injury hindered progress in the middle of the season. Although it set his training back a little, Weatherford said that is no longer a factor.
"We're taking a couple of days easy this week, just so I end up with fresh legs for Saturday," Weatherford said. "But we're still going to work hard the first couple of days. Monday and Tuesday we're still going to have some tough practices."
With the race only one week away, Schimpf said the physical work is basically done. As his coach, he's just trying to keep Weatherford in the right state of mind.
"I keep him mentally prepared as much as anything," Schimpf said. "All the really, really hard work, as far as physical work, is over."
When asked if he thought Weatherford could win the race, Schimpf didn't hesitate with his answer.
"There's no reason that he can't," Schimpf said. "He's right there with all the rest of them. He can win it."
Weatherford wasn't lacking any confidence either. Although he didn't exactly hit his target goal in the semistate, he knows the bigger picture awaits him in the finals Saturday.
"I'm kind of confident with where I placed, and it kind of doesn't get me on other people's minds," he said. "It puts me in a good spot to come from behind."
When asked if he thinks he can win the championship Saturday, he didn't hesitate either.
"I think so," he said. "I may be a little overconfident, but with running that's how you've got to be."