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XC REGIONAL PREVIEW: Athenian runners aiming high

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The plan for Crawfordsville’s boys’ and girls’ cross country teams at the IHSAA Ben Davis Regional on Saturday is very simple.

Run hard, leave everything on the course, and let the rest take care of itself.

That’s what the girls’ team has done the past two weeks, first an upset win at the Sagamore Conference meet, and then a fourth-place finish at the sectional last week to advance to the regional.

“We knew what we were capable of, and we just went out and did exactly the same thing, and knew we could it, and we were confident,” freshman Olivia Biddle said about their performance at the Brownsburg Sectional last Saturday.

With only one returning senior in Madison Fry, the pressure has been off the Athenians all season long, but Crawfordsville continued to prove themselves as one of the top teams in the area.

“I think it proved how hard we had worked, and how far it had gotten us,” Fry said.

Athenian coach Megan Craig watched her young team improve week by week.

“I think the biggest thing this season for the girls that I wanted them to see was ‘if you give us the time and put in the effort, we can together work to get better,’” she said.

Shelby Greene, Halle Smith, Kiara Martinez, and Elyse Widmer will join Biddle and Fry on the course Saturday.

For the boys it’s all about redemption.

The senior class of Devin Burris, Drake Hayes, Luke Stewart, Cole Watt, and Eli Widmer were a part of the last Crawfordsville boys’ team to advance to the semi-state in 2017 as sophomores. Last season, the Athenians missed the cut by one place, finishing sixth overall, just five points behind Cardinal Ritter for fifth.

“I think a lot of it is for the seniors this is our last time,” Burris said. “We want to go out as good as we can, so our goal all season is to get to semi-state like we did our sophomore year.”

A return to semi-state would be twice as sweet for Hayes, who missed advancing as an individual last season by one place and less than a second.

“It’s definitely very motivating for me,” Hayes said. “We were six points away from advancing last year, and then individually I was 12/100ths of a second.”

Following a fourth-place finish at the sectional, the road to advance will be an uphill battle for the boys’ with sectional winners Brownsburg and Zionsville expected to compete for the regional title. Hayes, Widmer, and junior Hunter Hutchison know they must run the 5K close to a 16:30, while Burris, Stewart, Watt, and sophomore Arthur Ruano will all need to have personal best runs.

“I think the boys just want to go out wit the mindset that we run our best or we don’t go on,” Craig said. 

Southmont’s Faith Allen will join the Athenians on the course in the girls’ race as an individual.

At the Benton Central Regional, both Fountain Central teams will compete along with North Montgomery’s Elijah McCartney and Claire Bonwell.

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