|The New Castle Cross Country team competed in the Rushville Regional competition last Saturday…just four days after placing 2nd at the Connersville Sectional behind the host school. The Trojans were disappointed in their Sectional finish and were seeking revenge and a possible Semi-State berth at the Regional. Qualifiers from the Connersville Sectional as well as the New Palestine Sectional were competing for a Top 5 team finish in order to advance to the Carmel Semi-State meet on October 26th. However, the Trojans had been beaten by all five New Pal Sectional qualifiers earlier in the season. They had a tough task ahead of them but the Trojans were determined to run at their best when it counted.
The New Castle varsity squad stayed the same for the Regional meet with one exception: Sophomore Bronson Dye had decided to give up his varsity spot to his teammate: Senior Ross Schmeisser. Dye was very unselfish in his act and wanted Schmeisser one last chance to race before the end of the season. Schmeisser hadn't competed since the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet on Saturday, October 5th and was itching to run in one more race to help the team.
At the end of the race, Coach Jon Tabor knew that the Trojans had run arguably their best team race of the season. The competitiveness and sense of urgency were evident as the race progressed. The following is a breakdown of each Trojan's Regional race:
No. 1: Sam Willis (Senior)
In the 2012 Regional race, Sam finished a disappointing 18th place and failed to advance to the Semi-State race (Top 15 moved advanced). Sam was determined to place in the Top 10 in the race and things were going according to plan early in the race. Sam went out with the lead pack and once the leaders started to separate, Sam continued to show his confidence as he ran in 8th place through the first two miles. However, things started to fall apart for the Trojan as he faded in the last mile all the way to 14th place. However, things could have been much worse as a pack of three runners were trying to take his spot. Sam held them off and finished in 14th place with a time of 17:12.
No. 2: Patrick Calvert (Junior)
Coming off a injury-prone sophomore season, Patrick started the year off well running as the team's No. 2 runner and breaking 18 minutes multiple times. However, Patrick has been very inconsistent throughout the season and finished as the Trojans' No. 6 man at Sectional. Patrick's goal at the Regional race was to place in the Top 30. This was a tall order as he would have to breaking 18 minutes for the first time in over a month. Patrick started the race near the back (Top 60) and continued to work his way up where he crossed the 1 mile marker in 39th place. Throughout the next two miles, he continued to work his way up through the field and cracked the Top 30 with 1000 meters to go. Patrick held his position and finished the race in 29th place overall with a time of 17:43. Patrick was able to bounce back from a sub-par Sectional performance and have his best race in October.
No. 3: Justin Burkholder (Junior)
One of Justin's goals for the 2013 XC season was to break 18 minutes. Justin's personal best time was 18:06 earlier in the season. Throughout the Regional race, Justin continued to follow Patrick as they both started in the rear of the 90-person field but worked up throughout the entire race. By the 2 mile mark, Justin had cracked the Top 40 and was continuing to move up. With 400 meters to go, Justin was closing on two runners and were about to pass them when both of them found another gear to break away from him. However, Justin ended up placing 34th overall with a personal best time of 17:56. Justin broke 18 minutes for the first time in his career on Saturday.
No. 4: Jeff Melton (Freshman)
Jeff is a late-race runner. He starts near the back of the pack but always moves up and passes people from 1.5 miles to the finish. Today was no exception. Although he ran a very pedestrian first mile of the race as our No. 6 runner, he started moving up through the field becoming our No. 5 runner and eventually passing our No. 5 runner to become the No. 4 runner. With two miles to go, Jeff continued to battle those around him and finished in 39th place with a personal best time of 18:02.
No. 5: Hunter Rose (Sophomore)
The week preceding the Regional Meet, Hunter was very busy. Almost every day leading up to the Regional, Hunter was busy balancing play practice, show choir practices/performances and cross country practice. Many of the workouts from the week, Hunter did on his own without the team. Hunter was the team's No. 2 runner at the Sectional meet and was attempting to keep that position at the Regional meet. However, the week finally caught up to him as he ran an average race. However, Hunter was able to battle with the best of the field and challenge himself and well as his teammates. Hunter ended up being a strong No. 5 runner for the team and placed 43rd overall in a time of 18:10.
No. 6: Devin Solomon (Senior)
Devin is a newcomer to the sport of cross country; however, he never raced like it. At the Sectional meet, he was able to overcome many "issues" to be the team's No. 5 runner and run near his personal best. He was looking to have a "problem-free" Regional meet and help the team run its best. Devin was our No. 5 runner throughout the first half of the race until he got passed by Jeff Melton. However, as Devin found out earlier in the season, being our No. 6 runner still has importance. Devin ran a very solid race for the Trojans and finished in 56th place with a personal best time of 18:26.
No. 7: Ross Schmeisser (Senior)
As mentioned earlier, Ross hadn't race in the two weeks preceding the Regional meet. However, he was very excited to get a chance to race again. Throughout the race, Ross was the epitome of "battling" due to the fact that he never gave up and always pushed himself to run his best. I realized that Ross was on a PR pace when he came through the 2 mile mark at 12:05, well ahead of where he'd been all season. Ross finished very well passing a runner in the final 10 meters and ended up in 79th place with a personal best time of 19:12.
Coach Jon Tabor was very pleased with his runners and knew that things would be interesting when the results came out. However, the Trojans ended up placing 6th overall in the team standings with 132 points. The 5th place team (New Palestine) scored 117, just 15 points ahead of the Trojans. But, the Trojans were able to beat Connersville HS (Tuesday's Sectional champs) by 50 points, which made a big statement.
Although the team failed to advance to the Semi-State level, two Trojans were able to qualify for the Semi-State rule due to the new advancement rule. The Top 10 runners (not on a qualifying team) automatically advance to the Semi-State meet. Senior Sam Willis was the 3rd individual to qualify and Junior Patrick Calvert was the 9th individual to qualify. Junior Justin Burkholder just missed advancing as he was the 12th individual to finish.
The Trojans finished the season with a record of 79-39 (67%). Willis and Calvert run on Saturday at the Semi-State Meet held at Northview Christian Church in Carmel, Indiana at 10:30am.
Complete Regional Results can be found at: