Emma Wilson goes wire to wire to win state XC title

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Greencastle junior completes perfect season

TERRE HAUTE — Timed high school sports such as track and field, cross country and swimming normally don’t have shocking finishes at the state finals level.

Generally, the athlete entering with the best time goes on to win the title.

Such a scenario is not very promising for middle-of-the-pack athletes, or for those who barely qualify for the finals.

Conversely, it’s a great thing if you’re the frontrunner.

Greencastle’s Emma Wilson entered the final leg of the IHSAA cross country state tournament on Saturday with the best semistate winning time among the four qualifying races, and — just as she did in track and field last spring — continued her dominance to win the first cross country state title in school history.

Wilson finished with a time of 17:45.9, finishing nearly 15 seconds ahead of runnerup Phoebe Bates of Carmel. Defending state champion Tyler Schwartz of DeKalb was third in 18:07.9.

“Emma has had a phenomenal season, and watching her win the state title was ​amazing,” Tiger Cub coach Craig Jordan said. “She has not lost a single race this year and her confidence has grown a lot.”

Jordan noted that Wilson ran a great race and was patient before taking over the lead for good.

“She put herself on the leader’s shoulder early in the race and remained calm until she decided to take over the race right before the 3K mark,” he said. “She did a great job of working the hills, which gave her a nice gap on the field heading into the last kilometer.

“Winning the state title this weekend was huge as she became Greencastle High School’s first cross country state champ.”

Wilson was excited to win her first cross country title, after placing eighth in each of the past two years.

“In the start, I just wanted to see how everyone else was going to go and I just went with them,” she said. “I knew it was going to be close and I was going to have to work hard.”

Schwartz led for much of the first half of the race, but Wilson overtook the defending state champ. Wilson was then able to regain the lead and go on to the victory.

“I was really excited,” she said. “It was a really fun race.”

Wilson had several teammates and other fans on hand to cheer on to the victory.

“I really appreciated the support I got,” she said. “Especially Sydney Kallem. She came out to run with me every day.”

Jordan agreed.

“Several teammates and members of Greencastle’s community came out to cheer her on,” he said. “It was awesome to see the amount of support she had out there.”

Another key member of Team Emma was Tiger Cub senior Ben Gellman, a standout runner on the school’s boys’ team and frequent running partner of Wilson’s.

Gellman was among the crowd of supporters on hand, and wasn’t hard to spot considering his attire — one of the school’s orange, black and white Tiger Cub mascot uniforms.

Gellman does not point to any magical reason behind Wilson’s amazing running talent.

“It’s really just her dedication and her commitment to staying on her program and being so focused and committed,” said Gellman, who earned all-county and all-Western Indiana Conference honors this fall and advanced to the semistate level. “She does every part of it right; not just the running. She doesn’t seem to get caught up in the moment.”

Gellman said Wilson has an unexpected problem for someone who competes against a clock, and not just athletes from other schools.

“At practice, we sometimes have to get her to slow down,” he said. “She only has one speed — and that’s fast.”

While Gellman would be completely justified in taking some credit for Wilson’s accomplishments, he claims none.

“I wouldn’t take any credit,” he said. “She would have done it anyway. I don’t take any credit, but it’s an honor to run with her.

“I’m really happy for her,“ he added. “She ran a great race.”

Wilson’s cross country season is not completely over, as she will return to the LaVern Gibson Championship Course on Nov. 12 compete in the Nike Cross Regionals Midwest qualifier.

She will be hoping to earn a spot in the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 2 at Portland, Ore.

The third-ranked Zionsville girls team and top-ranked Carmel boys team both earned their respective team titles.

Zionsville, with 118 points, was led by two top seven finishers in senior Sophia Rigg in 18:19.8 who grabbed fourth place and sophomore Katelyn Wasson in 18:25.7. Sophomore Margaret Allen (18:40.4) in 19th, sophomore Anna Settle (19:09.6) in 40th, and senior Annie Pappas (19:15.1) in 48th were the other scoring runners for the Eagles.

It was the first team title for a Zionsville cross country team of either gender with last year’s fourth-place finish its previous best showing. The Eagles were coached by Suzanne Rigg.

Carroll (Fort Wayne) claimed the runner-up spot with 129 points, and seven-time defending state champion Carmel placed third with 169 points.

Edgewood represented the Western Indiana Conference in the team standings in 20th place, led by freshmen Annalyssa Crain – who placed sixth overall with a time of 18:18.8 – and Sarah Foster, who was 50th in 19:04.6

On the boys’ side, Hamilton Southeastern senior Gabe Fendel took top honors in 15:17.2, the first Royals runner to earn the crown since Justin Roeder won in 2004, the first year at this course.

The Carmel boys had their first four runners place among the top 19 and snagged the team crown with 94 points.

It was the school’s second title in three years under coach Colin Altevogt.

Senior Keelan Grant (15:45.9) finished 10th, classmate Colin Murphy (15:53.1) was 13th, sophomore Ben Myers (16:07.6) was 18th and junior Calvin Bates (16:07.8) was right behind in 19th. Senior Ben Miller (16:18.4) in 34th was the Greyhounds’ fifth runner.

Fishers ended as the state runner-up for the second time in three years with 152 points and was followed by third-ranked Westview which enjoyed its highest finish ever with 171 points.

Austin Haskett of Edgewood was the only participant from the Western Indiana Conference and placed eighth overall in 15:36.6.

Connor Goetz of Carroll High School in Fort Wayne and Katherine Modrall of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School were announced as the winners of the respective mental attitude awards by the IHSAA Executive Committee following the races.

The IHSAA Executive Committee, on behalf of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, awarded a scholarship for $1,000 to Carroll High School in the name of Connor Goetz and to Brebeuf Jesuit in the name of Katherine Modrall.

Since 1989, almost $900,000 in college scholarships has been presented to deserving high school students in Indiana thanks for Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.

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