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Rossville boys eye sectional after HHC title

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PADGETT: Rossville's Preston Padgett, left, and Eastern's Brayden Richmond mirrored each other for the first mile before Padgett opened space soon after and cruised to the boys individual Hoosier Heartland Conference championship in 16:04.
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THE RUSH: Clinton Prairie's Melody Tolley leads runners out in the girls Hoosier Heartland Conference meet on Saturday in Kokomo. Tolley and Carroll's Chloe Goodrich, just left of Tolley, would duel early before Goodrich pulled away to win in 19:16.
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CENTRAL TRIO: Clinton Central's top three runners, from left, Samantha Hadaway, Carly Ellis and Abby Newton run together near the start of Saturday's Hoosier Heartland Conference meet. Hadaway finished 14th overall (10th team) with Newton coming in 22nd (17th) and Ellis 27th (20th).
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HHC CHAMPS: Rossville's boys cross country team won their second consecutive Hoosier Heartland Conference championship in cross country on Saturday in Kokomo. Above, Rossville runners pose with the championship trophy.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Rossville won its second consecutive boys cross country Hoosier Heartland Conference championship on Saturday at Jackson Morrow Park in Kokomo, with Hornet head coach Darrin Haupert hoping to continue the momentum into next Saturday’s West Lafayette sectional.

“Overall I was very pleased with today,” he said. “It’s a good step into sectionals. I’m looking forward to it. I think we’re on the right path to a good competition next week.”

Rossville sophomore Preston Padgett won the boys event in 16:04 outdistancing Eastern’s Brayden Richmond by seven seconds. Carroll took third, fourth and sixth individually, but the Hornets’ depth afterward made the difference as Rossville outdistanced the Cougars, 46-59.

Eastern took third (60) and Clinton Prairie fourth (62). Delphi finished fifth with 134 points while Clinton Central, Tri-Central and Sheridan had too few runners to compete for the team title.

Rossville freshman Nick Shedron came in seventh (17:50), sophomore CJ Geheb ninth (18:13), freshman Austin Bray 11th (18:23) and freshman Gabe Freeman 18th (18:38) to complete the Hornets’ team score. Junior Wyatt Darnell (19th, 18:39), senior Mitch Dickers (24rd, 19:10) and sophomore Gabe Spear (25th, 19:10) also finished in the top 30.

“We had a bit of a comeback,” Haupert said after finishing behind Clinton Prairie in last week’s Clinton Central Invite. “Everybody ran really well. Everybody’s times were awesome. I know a lot of people are expecting the course was short. It might have been a little bit short, but it’s not that big of a deal.”

Rossville hosted Saturday’s event with officials estimating the course was 127 meters short after the race.

“The boys bounced back from what I felt was a poor performance last week, so I was excited to see that,” Haupert said. “The girls we lost the girl standing right there, Miss Tia (Purdy) who is out for the rest of the year, so we only had four girls again and weren’t able to participate as a team.”

Purdy was on crutches and helping officials at the finish line. Tristen Wisda was the top Hornet girl finishing in eighth (21:51) with Brecken Good ninth (22:36). Emily Longenecker was 26th in 24:50 and Lauren Mohler 37th (27:37).

With the second boys title in a row Haupert hopes for more to come with a young team.

"After losing three seniors out of our top five last year, it’s great to bounce back and recover and win another conference championship after winning the first one in several years last year," he said. "It’s a good tradition and we’re going to do what we can to continue that.

"Everybody that ran today aside from Mitch will be back. We have two senior girls and one senior boy so we’ll have a good chunk of our team back."

In the girls race, Clinton Prairie’s Melody Tolley (19:41) finished second to Carroll’s Chloe Goodrich in their latest battle in cross country and track. Prairie’s Rebekah Lloyd came in third in 20:06. Tolley outdistanced Goodrich earlier this season at the New Prairie Invite.

“Chloe’s just really, really good,” Prairie head coach Byron Garrett said. “Melody and Chloe have been fighting back and forth for a couple two or three years and Rebekah has been doing the same thing on and off. Right now more Melody, but Rebekah is coming back at the right time (from recent injuries). I’m hoping with her surge forward she will carry it in to next week and we can get through next week.”

Carroll won the girls team title with 34 points with Prairie second with 48. Eastern and Clinton Central finished third (49) and fourth (94) respectively, with Delphi, Rossville, Tri-Central and Taylor not having enough runners for a team score.

Garrett appreciated the competition for both the boys and girls titles.

“It was a good conference race,” he said. “Anytime you can get a race where you’ve got three or four points between the top three or four teams you’ve got a conference the way it should be. That’s the way conferences are meant to be (with) the competitiveness of them. One person passing here, one person passing there. We just didn’t quite have enough umph there at the end to get what we needed.”

Along with Tolley and Lloyd, Zoe Beard claimed all-conference (top 14) with an 11th place finish (23:12) for the Gophers. Molly Ward (19th, 24:02) and Bella Creasy (28th, 25:58) completed the Gophers team score, with Leah McDaniel (27:42) and Kyrsten Cook (32:44) also running for Prairie.

For the boys, Logan Barrett (8th, 18:09), Steven McClellan (12th, 18:26), Wesley Whitlock (13th, 18:31) and Alexander Brettnacher (14th, 18:31) claimed all-conference for Prairie. Christian Mathias completed Prairie’s team score with a 15th-place finish (18:32). Brody Cooke (16th, 18:35), Tony Perez (20th, 18:52), Tyler Altic (27th, 19:19) and David Lashbrook (28th, 19:20) also finished in the top 30.

Clinton Central’s Samantha Hadaway edged into an all-conference position finishing 14th (23:34) in the girls race.

“Most of the race except for the last 150 meters she was in 16th place and I kept telling her she had to get two more,” Central head coach Tammy Campbell said. “Of course she waited to the last minute, but she ended up 14th and I’m super happy for her. It’s a great way to finish up the season and make all-conference.”

Freshman Abby Newton also stole a position pushing past Carroll’s Carly Watkins right at the finish to take 22nd in 24:30. Carly Ellis (27th, 24:57), Reagan Kimmell (31st, 26:30) and Bailey Barnes (40th, 28:59) completed the Bulldogs’ team score.

“All the girls, even Bailey pushed past somebody,” Campbell said. “They are always listening to you and willing to take your advice and push and get better. That’s what I like about these girls. … They are all very coachable girls.”

Clinton Central’s Bryson Webb finished just outside the top 30, coming in 31st in 19:39. Caleb Pinkard came in 52nd in 22:26.

Prairie barely lost the boys middle school conference title with Carroll edging them, 35-39. Rossville finished third (88) and Central fourth (98) out of eight teams. Prairie’s Hayden Kemple won the boys event in 10:21.

Other county runners in the top 30 included Ethan Fleischhauer (CP, 3rd, 10:52), Diego Moguel (CP, 6th, 11:09), Brayden Eaton (CC, 9th, 11:16), Mason Corriveau (CP, 12th, 11:33), Ashton Abbott (R, 13th, 11:34), Quynten Saylor (R, 14th, 11:36), Kaden Harshbarger (R, 15th, 11:36), Colten Corriveau (CP, 17th, 11:37), Daniel Holton (CC, 18th, 11:38), Carter Cline (CC, 19th, 11:45), Jacob Cole (R, 20th, 11:47), Calvin Jobe (CC, 21st, 11:59) and Mason Alford (R, 26th, 12:22).

Delphi (43 points) won the girls middle school event with Central fourth (99), Rossville fifth (100) and Prairie sixth (117).

Top 30 finishers from the county included Sadie Weliver (CP, 5th, 12:24), Ariel Abbott (R, 7th, 12:55), Ellie Ford (CC, 10th, 13:06), Catherine Harness (CC, 15th, 13:13), Theresa Roche (CP, 19th, 13:27), Braylin Good (R, 21st, 13:43), Isabella Lecklitner (CC, 23rd, 13:48), Lauryn Davis (R, 25th, 14:00), Kyndahl Streza (R, 29th, 14:08) and Kelsey Clayton (CC, 30th, 14:09).

Rossville, Prairie and Central as well as Frankfort , which won Saturday’s Sagamore Conference meet, will all next compete in Saturday’s West Lafayette sectional hosted by Harrison.