IndianaRunner.com: 2019 Cross Country State Meet Preview – Girls Individuals
While we seem to have a favorite in this year’s girls race (Erin Strzelecki), we won’t go as far as to label her an overwhelming favorite. There are certainly a handful of contenders who seem to have the tools to pull the upset, in addition to the customary deep fields that make up the rich tradition that is the IHSAA Cross Country State Finals. Out of this deep field, we have identified 40 individuals who are the most likely candidates to finish on the individual podium (top 20) this weekend. We also detail some of our individual favorites and how we expect the race might play out.
Top 40 Individual Predictions:
1 Erin Strzelecki Bishop Dwenger 12
2 Annalyssa Crain Edgewood 11
3 Karina James Lowell 10
4 Zoe Duffus Carroll (FW) 11
5 Madeline Keller Brebeuf Jesuit 10
6 Katelyn Wasson Zionsville 12
7 Addy Wiley Huntington North 10
8 Lily Cridge Bishop Chatard 9
9 Mary Anna Wehrle Cardinal Ritter 12
10 Rayna Fruchey Carroll (FW) 12
11 Maria Mitchell Hamilton Heights 11
12 Zoe Simmons Brebeuf Jesuit 12
13 Mariah Wehrle Cardinal Ritter 12
14 Brooke Dixon Brownsburg 12
15 Brenner Hanna Greensburg 11
16 Ellie Cates Concordia Lutheran 12
17 Anna Settle Zionsville 12
18 Sydney Liddle Floyd Central 12
19 Sophia Kennedy Park Tudor 9
20 Mollie Gamble Oak Hill 12
21 Halle Hill Hamilton Southeastern 11
22 Julia Dvorak Homestead 12
23 Gracie Carr Cathedral 12
24 Ava Gilliana Valparaiso 12
25 Morgan Dyer Elkhart Memorial 12
26 Mallory Clements Carroll (FW) 12
27 Phoebe Bates Carmel 12
28 Sarah Mahnensmith Norwell 11
29 Amelia Faber Homestead 10
30 Gillian Cridge Cathedral 12
31 Audrey Brinkruff Greenfield-Central 11
32 Emily Loiselle Bishop Chatard 11
33 Haylee Hile Northridge 9
34 Brenna Shaw New Palestine 11
35 Jessica Velez Pike 11
36 Ashlyn Minton Carroll (FW) 11
37 Sydney Lambert Norwell 12
38 Sarah Busch Bishop Luers 11
39 Brooklynn Edwards Carmel 11
40 Jamie Klavon Carmel 10
Making the Case for the Individual Champion
* Why Erin Strzelecki will win: Strzelecki is the top returner from the 2018 IHSAA Cross Country State Finals where she was the runner-up finisher. She followed up that stellar finish with a very solid track campaign that saw her run 10:35 over 3,200 meters. She has absolutely dominated nearly every regular season and tournament meet this season and successfully held off a challenger (Zoe Duffus) last week at the New Haven Semi-State. She is battle tested and has proven she can handle the pressure at Lavern Gibson.
* Why Annalyssa Crain will win: Crain finished third at the 2018 IHSAA Cross Country State Finals and is the second returner from last year’s championship. Crain ran a 10:48 3,200m on the track this past spring and has dominated the southern part of the state this cross country season. Like Strzelecki, she has proven she can run well under pressure at Lavern Gibson and has enough talent to mix it up in the lead pack.
* Why Karina James will win: James, like Crain, has dominated her part of the state this season – The Region. James ran a 10:54 3,200m this past spring after a modest 36th place finish at last year’s IHSAA Cross Country State Finals. James seems to be on a mission this year for State Meet redemption and to put herself in the lead pack at the State Finals – and by all indications, it seems she is primed to do just that and challenge for the win.
* Why Zoe Duffus will win: Duffus is the most interesting of all the individual champion contenders. She is a relatively new addition to this discussion due to a huge breakout race at last week’s New Haven Semi-State where she challenged Strzelecki more than any one has this season. Duffus is a natural aerobic talent dating back to her middle school years and has high school 2:14 / 4:55 speed to back it up. If Duffus can keep the leader even closer than she did at Semi-State, survive right on the leader down the long Lavern Gibson homestretch, and then find her top end gear the last 50m-100m, she could steal the win away from the traditional 3,200m/5K XC girls ranked ahead of her.
* Why Madeline Keller will win: Keller is the Shelbyville Semi-State Champion. The winner of this highly competitive semi-state should always be considered a title contender. She holds a 10:56 3,200m best on the track from last year, her freshman year. Keller finished outside the top-40 at last year’s State Meet as a freshman – but based on the way she is running as of late, she is looking to make a big statement during her sophomore campaign.
* Why Katelyn Wasson will win: Wasson either had an off day or ran conservative for her highly ranked team at last week’s Shelbyville Semi-State where she finished in 8th place. Wasson is arguably the most accomplished track runner in the field, holding personal bests of 4:57 and 10:31 over 1600m and 3200m, respectively. The track success hasn’t seemed to fully translate to top-tier cross-country champion status quite yet – but that can quickly change on November 2nd as Wasson has the tools to hold onto a fast pace and finish hard.
How the race might unfold:
Strzelecki, Crain, and James (and Keller to a lesser degree) all seem to be highly aerobic/strength runners. It is very likely one, two, or all three of these athletes get to the front early and push the pace from the gun. If anyone gaps the field early in the race, it will likely be Strzelecki – as she is very experienced going solo in no man’s land all season long and is likely very comfortable with that approach.
The big question is whether or not the superior track athletes Duffus and/or Wasson can keep pace with the strength runners mentioned above. If Duffus and/or Wasson can remain composed and hold it together through 4K, we could be in for a treat of a race down the 400m homestretch at Lavern Gibson.
Whatever happens on Saturday, this race looks to be full of contenders and potential surprises!