TERRE HAUTE – Bedford North Lawrence discovered a solid front four during the season-opening girls cross country race on the vaunted LaVern Gibson Course on Saturday morning.
The Stars, with veterans Grace Tanksley and Autumn Spence setting their pace, finished 18th in the 22-team field with 460 points. Franklin won the Valley Cross Kickoff event with 70 points.
In the boys race, BNL was 22nd out of 28 with a team total of 692. No.2 Carmel won that team event with 49 points.
Tanksley and Spence finished stride for stride, a likely foreshadowing of the season ahead. Tanksley was 69th overall in 22:46.0, while Spence was 70th in 22:47.2 among the state-caliber field of 202 runners.
Behind them, Myra Roberts was 107th in 24:13.3, and senior Kaitlyn Phillips made her cross country debut by crossing in 130th in 24:59.0. Emily Bartlett completed the BNL scoring, finishing 180th in 29:11.1.
“We’ve got a really clear top four,” BNL coach Jill Vance said. “Autumn and Grace are going to be battling each other all season for that No.1 spot, which is going to be good for them and good for the team as a whole.
“Once Myra gets back in that mode of racing, gets adjusted, her times are going to fall. Kaitlyn had a great debut race. So it’s really obvious, a strong 1-4. Now we need to see who can step up and be that fifth scorer for us.
“It’s working out the kinks, how the race goes, that’s what today was about. I’m not worried about places and times, just getting back out to run and get in that mode. Hopefully we can keep doing that.”
Lowell’s Karina James was the individual champion in 19:02.5.
In the boys race, Colton Sons led the way for the Stars, finishing 121st in 19:15.1, while junior Cameron Haste was 132nd in 19:34.9 and Cole Baker was 157th in 20:03.0
“It was fantastic to see feet running and racing happen today,” BNL coach Jonathan Calhoun said. “Our guys got their feet wet in the racing sense and it was great to see where we are as a team. We’ve only had a month since we started official conditioning training.
“Unfortunately when I thought about the season after last year, I imagined us being a little ahead of where we are at with times, but I see effort happening, which is encouraging. The time will come, but the effort still needs to be high as we progress through the season. This meet is a wake-up call for others to step up our game, which I feel each one of our runners need to do. I was excited about Cameron. He has put in a lot of effort and work in the summer.”
Carmel’s Kole Mathison was the individual winner in 15:53.6
BNL will return to action on Aug. 24 when it hosts the Scott Hiles Invitational.
VALLEY CROSS KICKOFF
Team scores – Carmel 49, Brebeuf 64, Northview 134, Westfield 138, Bloomington North 140, Terre Haute North 224, Jasper 286, Mt. Vernon 292, Batesville 300, Terre Haute South 307, West Lafayette 309, Fishers 310, Lebanon 365m Greenfield Central 375, Austin 383, Lafayette Jeff 441, Franklin 465, Pike 488, Brown County 513, Evansville Reitz 534, Sullivan 575, BNL 692, North Putnam 692, Clay City 714, West Vigo 737, White River Valley 737, Brownstown 762, Linton 769
Top performances – 1. Kole Mathison, Carmel 15:53.6; 2. Krishna Thirunavukkarasu, Brebeuf 16:14.1; 3. Kai Conner, Westfield 16:24.1; 4. Ezra Burrell, Brebeuf 16:30.1; 5. Jake Fisher, Carmel 16:34.2
BNL – 121. Colton Sons 19:15.1; 132. Cameron Haste 19:34.9; 157. Cole Baker 20:03.0; 203. Brayden Lanham 21:22.1; 211. Isaac Williams 21:44.2; Ryan Wright 22:05.3; Jacob Simmerman 22:12.2; Zane Thompson 22:29.7; Chase Turner 22:53.7; Noah Bailey 25:20.8
Team scores – Franklin 70, Westfield 92, New Palestine 124, Northview 136, Jasper 152, Batesville 212, Pike 218, Brebeuf 231, West Lafayette 241, Brown County 271, Morgan Township 273, Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 305, Terre Haute South 319, Maconaquah 341, Kouts 451, Evansville Reitz 457, Faith Christian 459, BNL 460, West Vigo 522, Owen Valley 524, Clay City 543, Linton 664
Top performances – 1. Karina James, Lowell 19:02.5; 2. Gnister Grant, Northview 19:09.5; 3. Andi VanMeter, Jasper 19:49.0; 4. Haley Mansfield, West Lafayette 19:51.7; 5. Emma Mann, New Palestine 19:54.7
BNL – 69. Grace Tanksley 22:46.0; 70. Autumn Spence 22:47.2; 107. Mya Roberts 24:13.3; 130. Kaitlyn Phillips 24:59.0; 180. Emily Bartlett 29:11.1; Ella Peek 29:34.2; Ava Jahn 30:02.6; Emma Baumgart 33:08.0; Katelyn Moody 42:02.3