INDIANAPOLIS -- South Putnam's Hunter Barr might have been the only boys' runner to represent Putnam County in Saturday's cross country semi-state meet, but he seldom found himself alone.
Barr has nothing but open space in front of him at most cross country meets, but Saturday he found himself in a pack most of the day. Barr placed 87th overall in a time of 17:32.9.
South Putnam head coach Brandon Welti noted the semi-state meet presented a lot of firsts for his runner, but thought he came through quite well.
"First time in a race like this," Welti said. "He's never had to run in a crowd before, that definitely has a huge impact. He was even saying, mentally, not knowing the course that really kind of threw him off, too. It was kind of what we feared, but expected.
"I know he's a little disappointed, but it's a learning experience. We're just thankful for the chance to be here."
The rains poured down on Friday, resulting in a soft course. When asked what he thought about the course as a coach, Welti was candid and to the point.
"I'm glad I'm on the sidelines, personally," he said smiling. "It's pretty muddy, constant rolling up and down -- it's a difficult course. I know the rain we've had the past few days hasn't helped it any."
Having reached the semi-state meet in just his junior season, Barr has another shot at the state meet next season. Welti said Barr did exactly what he was asked to do and was able to put forth his best effort when he needed to.
"Excellent season overall," Welti said. "All year he's done exactly what I've asked of him. He's not disappointed (me) at all. We were a little cautious with his training because of last year's injury. We didn't want to do anything to get him re-injured.
"Overall, he improved what he needed to improve. He ran his fastest times when he needed to run his fastest times. He was constantly competition and he's working on becoming more of a front-runner. It's been a great year."