By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Autumn Spence and Grace Tanksley beat the spread.
Point spreads in cross country racing? Is there such a thing? No, not even among the hard-core fans and runners who live, eat, sleep and breathe the sport. Bedford North Lawrence’s front-running duo finished higher than pre-race projections, helping the Stars move on through the first stage of the IHSAA postseason series.
Spence was 6th overall and Tanksley churned home in 14th, powering BNL to a fourth-place team finish in the sectional race on its home course Saturday morning. The top five teams, plus the top 10 individuals who were not members of advancing teams, qualified for the regional on Oct. 17.
BNL’s boys team did not make the cut. The Stars were sixth, only three agonizing points away from the fifth spot, but did qualify three runners for the regional.
Spence, in her signature style with elbows out and long legs eating up ground, made a late move and nearly cracked the top five. If BNL’s course didn’t finish on a sharp climb, a rather sadistic way to complete a 5K race, she would have made it. She crossed the line in 19:56.93, while Tanksley (who has to take many more steps to cover the same acreage) finished in 21:04.49.
“I was having them focus more on places than times,” BNL coach Jill Vance said. “Some of the girls hit their goals, some were close. Overall we ended up where we needed to be.
“We have to tighten up and close the gaps. We thought we were pretty solid in fourth for a team finish. We would have had to have a really bad day to lose that. But we have to focus on tightening things up to get out next week. That will be a different story.”
No.10 Bloomington North won the team crown with 39 points while No.21 Bloomington South was second with 47. Edgewood, paced by individual champ Annalyssa Crain, was third with 62, followed by BNL (107) and Mitchell (128).
Crain, one of the state’s elite, cruised around to her win in 18:39.37, while her sister Clara was second in 19:04.07.
BNL’s Myra Roberts was 28th in 23:18.49 and Kaitlyn Phillips was 36th in 24:04.86.
In the boys race, BNL could not make up collective spots after a slow start. Colton Sons was 23rd overall in 18:10.20, while teammate Cole Baker was 24th in 18:18.83. They were never more than a few steps apart. Cameron Haste, in his first postseason event, also grabbed an individual ticket to the regional while finishing 30th in 18:44.83.
That trio earned the consolation prizes. The Stars totaled 157 points and slipped back behind Eastern Greene (154) for the final qualifying position.
“Our goal was to relax, those race jitters can get you,” BNL coach Jonathan Calhoun said. “Our back of the pack was a little too relaxed. They had so many people they had to pass. If they have been 5-10 seconds faster in the beginning, the momentum would have pushed them through.
“I’m proud of those three for making it. We’ll see what happens next week.”
No.16 Bloomington North won the boys title with 27 points, clipping No.13 Bloomington South by one point. North’s Nolan Bailey was the individual winner in 16:20.39.
Next week, qualifiers from the sectional at Terre Haute North will join the field for the regional. The top five teams, and the top 10 individuals who are not members of advancing teams, will advance to the semistate at Brown County on Oct. 24.
Saturday at BNL
Team scores – Bloomington North 27, Bloomington South 28, Bloomfield 85, Eastern Pekin 145, Eastern Greene 154, BNL 157, Edgewood 167, Orleans 186, Mitchell 217
Top performances – 1. Nolan Bailey, North 16:20.39; 2. John Asplund, South 16:22.59; 3. Neal Anderson, South 16:29.55; 4. Kyle Clark, North 16:34.05; 5. Jack Nelson, North 16;45.27
Individual qualifiers – 13. Elliott Gough, Edgewood 17:22.66; 21. Tate Hall, Orleans 17:50.93; 23. Colton Sons, BNL 18:10.20; 24. Cole Baker, BNL 18:18.83; 28. Lucas Slaten, Mitchell 18:41.90; 29. Patrick Alston, Orleans 18:44.57; 30. Cameron Haste, BNL 18:44.83; 31. Anthony Gough, Edgewood 18:45.02; 32. Josh Kohne, Edgewood 18:49.55; 35. Lucas Burlingame, LCA 19:05.18
BNL – 40. Zane Thompson 19:16.90; 42. Isaac Williams, 19:18.07; 49. Ryan Wright 19:51.73; 54. Max Klein 20:18.80
Team scores – Bloomington North 39, Bloomington South 47, Edgewood 62, BNL 107, Mitchell 128, Eastern Greene 154, Orleans 168
Top performances – 1. Annalyssa Crain, Edgewood 18:39.37; 2. Clara Crain, Edgewood 19:04.07; 3. Emma Callahan, South 19:24.87; 4. Lily Myers, South 19:28.28; 5. Bea Cakmak, North 19:56.12
BNL – 6. Autumn Spence 19:56.93; 14. Grace Tanksley 21:04.49; 28. Myra Roberts 23:18.49; 36. Kaitlyn Phillips 24:04.86; 41. Ella Peek 25:09.75; 59. Emma Baumgart 28:53.99; 60. Emily Bartlett 29:18.88
Individual qualifiers – 12. Lanie Roberts, Salem 20:53.89; 17. Alison Hughett 21:26.60; 18. Adalyn Wiseman, Bloomfield 21:36.55; 21. Ashley Hudson, EG 22:19.09; 23. Lily Rasmusen, LCA 22:47.41; 27. Ava Sowder, Pekin 23:14.24; 30. Jaylynn Payne, EG 23:29.55; 34. Jaeden Mietus, Bloomfield 23:53.89; 35. Madeline Esslinger, LCA 23:58.32; 37. Hannah Browning, LCA 24:12.19