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2021 Girls Cross Country: State Meet Preview

Top 24 Team Rankings:

1. Columbus North

2. Carmel

3. Noblesville

4. North Central

5. Chesterton

6. Floyd Central

7. Westfield

8. FW Carroll

9. Valparaiso

10. FW Homestead

11. Northview

12. Hamilton Southeastern

13. East Noble

14. Avon

15. Franklin Central

16. Penn

17. Northridge

18. Warsaw

19. Jasper

20. Bloomington North

21. Harrison (WL)

22. Princeton

23. LaPorte

24. West Lafayette

Teams in the mix to win:

* Carmel was by far the best team in the semistate round even factoring in a key missing runner for rival Columbus North. The ‘Hounds have a great 1-2-3 punch to start scoring with Jasmine Klopstad, Alivia Romaniuk and Jamie Klavon with all three having competed in multiple state meets already. The Greyhounds also are solid at four but will need to close the door at five to win the team title.

* Columbus North beat Carmel most recently, and on the same course. The Dogs ran without usual number one runner Lily Baker in a dominating semistate win, and reports indicate she should race this weekend; she was the individual champion at the LaVern Twilight meet four weeks ago. North has had more availability issues in October than Carmel. Assuming typical races from the front trios, neither team will get much distance through three scorers so this race will likely come down to four and five where CN has had the advantage much of the season.

Teams in mix for podium:

* Carroll has an outside shot if the Chargers can get solid contributions across the board. This is a team closer to tenth than fifth, most likely, but Carroll has the highest upside of all the teams from the New Haven Semistate.

* Chesterton has had a great season, most recently dominating the New Prairie Semistate. The Trojans have two potential All-Staters and senior Bailey Ranta could finish in the top ten. Chesterton has solid depth as well so the Trojans could absorb a bad race from a runner outside their top two without abandoning podium hopes.

* Floyd Central has consistently performed around a top five level throughout the season. The Highlanders have an incredible top trio, all of whom could finish in the top 30. Floyd’s key to finishing on the podium is a great race from the team’s usual fourth runner to offset the anchor of a fifth toward the middle of the pack.

* Homestead nearly won the New Haven Semistate and has the most dependable frontrunner of any of these potential top five teams in sophomore Addison Knoblauch. With most of the top individual girls attending schools that didn’t advance to the state meet, the Spartans could just be scoring four. That would be huge for a team with a fifth somewhat deep in the team points.

* Noblesville is the most solid of all these teams, consistently performing around the third best team in Indiana behind Carmel and Columbus North. The Millers don’t have a dominant frontrunner, but they did have the best number five runner in all of Indiana in semistate results, per inccstats’ adjusted ratings. Noblesville doesn’t have the firepower upfront to outduel those top two teams, but if the Millers perform anywhere near last week’s level, this is the third place team.

* North Central had a key missing runner at the semistate, and her return this week could spark the Panthers to a repeat podium finish. NC also doesn’t have elite frontrunning, but their ability to pack gives the Panthers an excellent chance to earn medals again. * Valparaiso is a bit of a longshot, but the Vikings performed so far above expectations at last year’s state meet that they warrant mentioning here. Senior Kaylie Politza gives Valpo a single digit score through one runner, and the return of the team’s typical number two runner should help immensely to bridge the gap to Chesterton.

* Westfield might be the story of the season, going from fringe state meet team in preseason expectations to legitimate podium threat all without any freshmen in the line-up. The ‘Rocks had a sub-par race at the semistate level, but our committee (of one) expects a bounce back race here.

Teams looking for top 10:

* Avon has been just outside the top ten for much of the season. A good team race, especially if frontrunner Jessica Hegedus can get into the top 25, could end the season in the top ten.

* Franklin Central ran a season-best performance to advance from the semistate and finish a surprising third. It is often hard to follow up such a great performance with one at an equal level, but if they do the Flashes will be in the top ten.

* East Noble advanced to the state meet easily despite a couple of off races from scorers. Freshman phenom Addison Lindsay can really help out the Knights this week by being on the podium as an individual.

* Hamilton Southeastern was close to the one at the New Haven Semistate last week but does not have the upside potential of those top two teams. Somewhere in the top ten seems reasonable. * Northview has become a state meet staple, and the Knights have been more consistent in team performance this fall. This is a possible top ten team, but the depth just isn’t there to make a run at the podium, barring something unforeseen.

* Penn has an excellent top four, including two potential All-Staters. If they all run well, the Kingsmen could get into the top ten, but like some others on this list Penn lacks the depth to challenge for a top five finish.

Top 25 Individuals:

1. Lily Cridge, 11, Chatard

2. Karina James, 12, Lowell

3. Nicki Southerland, 10, Delta

4. Gretchen Farley, 11, Park Tudor

5. Sophia Kennedy, 11, Park Tudor

6. Addison Wiley, 12, Huntington North

7. Addison Knoblauch, 10, Homestead

8. Kaylie Politza, 12, Valparaiso

9. Lillian Zelasko, 11, New Prairie

10. Julia Kiesler, 11, Columbus North

11. Jasmine Klopstad, 11, Carmel

12. Alivia Romaniuk, 12, Carmel

13. Lily Baker, 11, Columbus North

14. Andi VanMeter, 12, Jasper

15. Jamie Klavon, 12, Carmel

16. Kendall Martin, 12, Brebeuf

17. Jaydon Cirincione, 12, Floyd Central

18. Julie Smith, 12, Penn

19. Bailey Ranta, 12, Chesterton

20. Lily Myers, 11, Bloomington South

21. Brianna Newell, 11, Columbus North

22. Audrey Knoper, 12, Western Boone

23. Gnister Grant, 10, Northview

24. Brinkely Cooper, 9, Noblesville

25. Addison Lindsey, 9, East Noble

In Mix to Win:

* Lily Cridge, 11, Chatard – Cleary the best pure distance runner in Indiana over the last year, Cridge is one of the very best in the entire country this season. Expect a wire-to-wire win and a thirty-second (or more) margin of victory.

Leading the chase pack:

* Gretchen Farley, 11, Park Tudor – Typically her team’s number two runner, Farley has run as the top Park Tudor runner for the tournament. She has finished second to Cridge in the last three rounds.

* Karina James, 12, Lowell – Perhaps the best race in Indiana, James won the state championship last year as an individual in Cridge’s absence. James has not lost a cross country race in the last two seasons.

* Sophia Kennedy, 11, Park Tudor – Already with a pair of top five finishes, Kennedy could add a third here. While she has improved mightily over the last two years, the competitive level in the elite girls around the state has increased at about the same rate.

* Nicki Southerland, 10, Delta – Perhaps the lone occupant of our “Lloyd Christmas Division”, Southerland has not seen a consistent high level of competition this year. There is perhaps a miniscule chance (more like one out of a million…) that she could challenge Cridge.

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