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Monday, May 2, 2016

GHS boys earn top-15 finish at semi-state

Monday, October 24, 2011

GHS junior Tyler Hudson leads a pack of runners up a hill during Saturday's Carmel semi-state meet. Hudson finished 72nd with a time of 17:01.9. [Order this photo]
CARMEL -- Every team talks about setting lofty goals, but few actually achieve them. For the Greencastle boys' cross country team, 2011 has been all about reaching their goals and Saturday was the culmination of a season worth of hard work.

Greencastle had achieved all of their goals and if they were able to finish in the top-15 at semi-state, they could check the final one off the list. After all was said and done, the Tiger Cubs were able to take out the proverbial Sharpie and check it off as they finished 14th on the day with a total of 412 points.

"It was a team goal from Aug. 1 when we had our first team meeting that we wanted to make it to semi-state," GHS head coach Craig Callahan said. "Everything along the way was practice to get here. We viewed every single meet, every single practice that we had as exhibition for this moment -- and we got here.

"We're so excited to just be part of this today. We wanted our guys to get some experience. Out of the seven guys that ran today, three of them won't be returning because they're seniors, so it was great that those other four guys, which are going to be the nucleus of our team next year, they got experience at semi-state. That's an experience that can never be taken away from them," he added.

Junior Tyler Hudson led the way for Greencastle with a 72nd place finish in a time of 17:01.9. He was followed by senior Ryan Stevens in 80th place with a time of 17:08.7. The freshmen duo of Elijah Brattain and Taylor Secrest finished 106 and 111, respectively. Brattian ran a time of 17:36.8 and Secrest posted a time of 17:42.2.

Senior Nathan Eubank was 115th with a time of 17:45, while junior Paul Bryan was 120th with a time of 17:50.1. Senior Hunter Mitchell rounded out the GHS runners with a 145th place finish in a time of 18:46.6.

Callahan said the team previewed the course on Thursday, battling cold, rainy and windy conditions, but he said it helped the team on Saturday. He was also happy with his team's performance as they ran hard until the end.

"We finished out the year exactly how we wanted to and that was strong. We wanted to finish strong, leave a good taste in our mouths and I think we accomplished that today," he said.

Callahan continued to talk about his team's goal following the meet and how with his current team, anything less would be selling them short.

"We knew coming into this year, we were very blessed with a talented group of guys," Callahan said. "So my coaching staff and I, we felt some pressure. We knew we couldn't just get by with the county and conference champs anymore and getting to regional. We knew we had to set a new goal that would be the loftiest of them all -- get here.

"So from the very beginning of the year we knew what was at stake. With this talent, it we wouldn't have gotten here, then we weren't doing something right," he added.

Callahan also raved about his entire team, their season and what made each of them something special to coach.

"I'm so proud of my three seniors," he said. "Ryan Stevens, we haven't really made much noise about this, but he's been running on a hurt ankle since conference. We just haven't said much about it because there was no reason to. He knew he had to tough it out since it was his last year.

"Right now he's just sitting over there defeated because he just want to do better and that just kills me as a coach because he just ran his heart out," he added.

"He ran his heart out, Nathan Eubank ran his heart out and Mitchell Hunter finished strong all things considered," Callahan said.

He noted that Hunter was considering not running this year after competing with an injury last season, but Callahan praised his commitment to the team.

"He came out here for the guys. That what I'm just so proud of. He's the reason why we were able to make it this far because he decided to come out and work hard," he said.

The coach has every reason to be excited about the upcoming seasons for the team, due in large part to a talented duo of freshmen that have made some noise all season long.

"I'm super-excited about my freshman," Callahan said. "My gosh. Elijah Brattain had a phenomenal year for a freshman. He's ranked in the state as a top freshman and I think he came out here today and made a statement that he is good. He has a lot of work to do. He's good right now, he can be great.

"I think this was a coming out party for Taylor Secrest. Taylor ran so well the last four or five races. He's been so strong. We finally got him healthy and man, did he turn it on. They're five seconds apart at semi-state as freshman in the mid-17s. That's great," he added.

A team is only as good as its leaders and two juniors will be stepping into that role next season. Callahan knows the talent his has coming back and feels its in capable hands.

"Tyler Hudson and Paul Bryan know next year, this is their team," he said. "The seniors are gone now and they're going to be the leaders and I fully expect them to step up and take that leadership role. They're ready for it and today proved that.

"They both ran so well. The way they lead the guys on the course and off the course is just proof they're ready to take over the leadership role," Callahan added.