Greencastle's goal of competing with the top teams in their sectional and regional makes Terre Haute a "battleground" for the Tiger Cubs' squad according to GHS Coach Craig Callahan.
"At this invite, small schools are given the choice of running in either the 1-3A race or the 4-5A race. We never saw it as a choice," he said. "If we are going to compete with our sectional and regional rivals in October, why wouldn't we race them at Terre Haute in the 4-5A race? This is one of the many battlegrounds of the season."
And battle they did. The usual tandem of junior Tyler Hudson and senior Ryan Stevens led the Tiger Cubs. Hudson finished 35th with a time of 17:15, 30 seconds faster than last year. Senior captain Stevens placed 48th with a time of 17:28, nearly 10 seconds faster than last year. Both runners set personal course records.
Coach Callahan was pleased with his top two.
"I don't have to worry about Ryan and Tyler; they ran well and beat the guys we needed them to. They passed some very talented opposing runners today which says a lot about their own talent," he said.
Finishing behind Stevens for the Tiger Cubs was fellow senior Nathan Eubank. Eubank finished 66th with a total time of 17:51.
Like Stevens, he shaved nearly 10 seconds from his time last year.
"Nathan has been very consistent at the three spot for us so far this season," Callahan said. "He nursed injuries his freshman and sophomore years. This year and last, however, he has really developed into a solid runner for this team."
Pushing hard and finishing 87th with a time of 18:20 was freshman Elijah Brattain.
In his first 5k race on the Terre Haute course, Brattain finished with a Ben Davis runner in front of him and a Carmel runner behind. Callahan was thrilled his freshman could hold his own against such compeittion.
"We have to keep reminding ourselves that Elijah is only a freshman. Seeing him finish that far up and fighting for position with guys from Ben Davis and Carmel is great. We expect that from Ryan, Tyler, and Nathan, but for Elijah to be doing that as a freshman is exciting," Callahan said.
Rounding out the scorers for GHS was junior Paul Bryan. Bryan finished overall with a time of 18:25 -- 96th place. Bryan shaved the most time from last year's finish, cutting almost 40 seconds and setting a new personal record.
"Paul is running with so much confidence right now. He looks good out there," Callahan said. "He set a P.R. today and cut the most time from last year's race. He's such a vital contributor to our team. We need him to continue running like this."
In his first 5k race of the season, Senior Hunter Mitchell placed sixth for the Tiger Cubs, and 124th overall with a time of 18:57. Callahan was very pleased with Mitchell's performance.
"Hunter is unable to put the same time into his offseason that the other guys have because of baseball; he is a great pitcher," he said. "For him to come out today to a very challenging course and run under 19 minutes is excellent. Even though he got a late start to conditioning this year, we have no doubt he will continue to drop time and help this team when it really counts in October."
Bringing up the rear for the GHS squad was freshman Taylor Secrest and junior Matthew White. Secrest finished 148th with a total time of 19:44, and White with a time of 20:02. Like Brattain, it was Secrest's first 5k at Terre Haute.
"Taylor ran a great race. I think he realized how deceivingly tough this course really is. He will drop a lot of time next year." Callahan said, "And if Matthew continues to improve his time like he has, he's going to put some healthy pressure on his teammates in front of him. I can't believe how far he has come from last year. He is roughly 20 seconds off of his personal record and it's only early September."
The Tiger Cubs are excited about how they measure up to their rivals at this point in the season. However, Callahan continues to remind his team of how hard they have to continue working.
"We are doing great right now, but I have no doubt Brownsburg, Perry Meridian, Southport, and even Pike are starting to notice we are sneaking up on them.," Callahan said. "Last year we didn't have a target on our back. This year, as the season progresses and we continue to improve and make gains, that's all changing for us. We have to push ourselves harder than we ever have."