By TIM CREASON
TERRE HAUTE – Yeah, maybe Warsaw got caught up in all the excitement at the start of Saturday’s girls state cross country finals.
But how does that old saying go? You don’t know if you don’t try.
“They went out really hard, but so did everybody else,” said coach Matt Campbell following the Tigers’ 16th-place finish at the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute.
The Tigers bolted from the starting line. They raced into the front half of the field, then slowly faded back over the final 2,000 meters.
Not that they performed poorly. “Three of our girls ran (personal bests),” pointed out Campbell.
That wasn’t easy on the frigid, windy 5,000-meter course. But it turns out the 34th annual girls state meet was one of the fastest ever.
Anna Rohrer had a lot to do with that. Mishawaka’s All-American senior won her second individual championship and broke her own course record, clocking 17:08.8 to set a standard that may stand for decades.
Rohrer, who missed most of this season as she recovered from a year-long foot injury, came home 42 seconds ahead of runner-up Taylor Nicholson from Avon.
Nicholson, meanwhile, was about five seconds ahead of third-place Maddie Woods from Penn (17:55.7).
No. 1-ranked Carmel easily defended its team title. Six Carmel girls broke 19 minutes and finished among the top 35 individuals, scoring 55 points.
In a close battle for second, Avon scored 124. West Lafayette was third at 147 and Penn took fourth (158).
Warsaw scored 408, finishing 60 points behind Northern Lakes Conference rival Northridge (12th with 348).
Sophomore Allison Miller, as usual, led the Warsaw girls with a 58th place finish, clocking 19:12.9.
“If you are working from the back end, it’s harder to stay in it, so we knew we had to get out fast and get into the mix,” said Miller, who blistered her first mile in 5:30.
“The first part of the race was fast. Everybody knew it would be,” she said. “But over the second part, it was like everybody kept picking up the pace. There are so many fierce competitors out here.”
Miller was the only Warsaw runner to finish among the Top 100. But it wasn’t because any were running slow.
Junior Emma Hayward led a close pack into the chute, placing 110th in 19:47.6.
Freshman Mia Beckham was 119th in 19:51.3 and junior Brooke Rhodes 121st at 19:51.8.
Sophomore Anna Craig, who placed 156th in 20:22.2, wrapped up the Tiger scoring.
Junior Hannah Dawson and sophomore Charlene Orr completed the lineup for the Tigers.
“The wind was a pretty big problem, you just had to push through it mentally,” said Rhodes. “We all ran together and pushed each other. Mia Beckham ran beside me and told me to keep going.”
Though the team’s goal of a Top 10 finish didn’t work out, the coach looked at each runner’s time and couldn’t find much to complain about.
“I thought halfway through the race, even with a thousand to go, I thought we were in good shape,” said Campbell. “We almost had five girls under 19:50. They were all together, then one fell off.
“We did better than last year. We had seven girls almost better than last year’s No. 2,” he said. “We wanted the Top 10, but there are a lot of pros to go with this.”
The trio of Rhodes, Beckham and Hayward all ran personal best times on Saturday.
One of the most important numbers in yesterday’s results was the one in parenthesis beside each runner’s name, signifying year in school.
In particular, the number 12. Warsaw doesn’t have any seniors, returning its entire team next year.
A good sign for the future.
IHSAA STATE CROSS COUNTRY FINALS
At Terre Haute
TEAM SCORES: Carmel 55, Avon 124, West Lafayette 147, Penn 158, Columbus North 171, Zionsville 247, Carroll (Fort Wayne) 272, Pendleton Heights 283, Floyd Central 284, Hamilton Southeastern 284 (sixth-runner tie-breaker), Warren Central 300, Northridge 348, Lake Central 366, Bloomington South 370, Valparaiso 400, Warsaw 408, Indianapolis Cathedral 415, Portage 417, Seymour 442, Homestead 443, Terre Haute North 450, LaPorte 504, Jasper 547, Huntington North 557.
TOP 25 FINISHERS: 1, Anna Rohrer (Mishawaka) 17:08.8. 2, Taylor Nicholson (Avon) 17:50.0. 3, Madison Woods (Penn) 17:55.7. 4, Alexandra Dalton (Greenwood) 18:03.1. 5, Lauren Johnson (West Lafayette) 18:12.5. 6, Rachel Nichwitz (Hamilton Southeastern) 18:14.2. 7, Haley Harris (Carmel) 18:15.1. 8, Alex Buck (Pendleton Hts.) 18:16.5. 9, Madelyn Dalton (Carmel) 18:18.1. 10, Katherine Free (Indianapolis Cathedral) 18:18.3. 11, Rachel Brougher (Columbus No) 18:18.5. 12, Samantha Woodford (Plainfield) 18:24.2. 13, Sydney Meyers (Zionsville) 18:24.5. 14, Jenna Halderman (Northfield) 18:24.5. 15, Kristen Johnson (West Lafayette) 18:24.8. 16, Stacy Morozov (Carmel) 18:25.2. 17, Sierra Moore (Elkhart Memorial) 18:26.5. 18, Sierra Lax (Columbus No) 18:29.5. 19, Lauren Frank (Penn) 18:29.7. 20, Riley Welch (Fremont) 18:30.1. 21, Presley Warren (Evansville Reitz) 18:30.9. 22, Sarah Leinheiser (Carmel) 18:32.9. 23, Aspen Dirr (Prairie Hts.) 18:34.2. 24, Tyler Schwartz (DeKalb) 18:34.5. 25, Kelsey Harris (Carmel).
WARSAW: 58, Allison Miller 19:12.9 … 110, Emma Hayward 19:47.6 … 119, Mia Beckham 19:51.3 … 121, Brooke Rhodes 19:51.8 … 156, Anna Craig 20:22.2 … 159, Hannah Dawson 20:25.0 … 163, Charlene Orr 20:27.7.
MENTAL ATTITUDE AWARD: Anna Rohrer, Mishawaka