By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Under normal conditions, the tense phrase “Get out!” is a menacing warning. Flee to survive. Horror movies can’t be made without that line.
Rather than run scared, that was Bedford North Lawrence’s battle cry during the first stage of the contracted state tournament series. Getting out was the goal, and it was achieved as the Stars advanced to the IHSAA regional during Saturday morning’s sectional races on their home course.
Battling through annoying rain sprinkles and a cold, heavy wind, quite a contrast from the heat of the entire regular season, the Stars sprinted out of the sectional in typical survive-and-advance fashion. BNL finished fifth in the boys race and third in the girls, with the top five qualifying for the next stage at Angel Mounds in Evansville next week.
In the boys race, the Stars totaled 129 points to claim the final team spot. No.5 Bloomington North won the title with 31 points while No.22 Bloomington South was second with 44. BNL was third in the girls with 112 points, clipping Eastern Greene by a scant point. No.19 Bloomington South breezed to that team crown with 26 points.
Jonah Bailey paced the BNL boys by finishing 13th overall (in a field of 81 runners) in 16:59.20. Alex Nicholson was 17th in 17:45.32, and Nick Lindley was 21st in 17:53.72.
“We had three really solid performances from our top three runners,” BNL coach Nick Boyd said. “They certainly carried the load to get us to the regional. We advanced so we have to be pleased to run another week. We want more and want to keep improving. We’re coming in with the expectation to be consistently good. That’s our process.“
Bailey, a two-time semistate qualifier under the old postseason format, reined in his start and settled behind the frontrunners. South’s Ryan Rheam was the individual winner in 15:43.22 while Orleans’ Bryce Jones was second in 15:54.07.
“I got out and competed,” Bailey said. “I think I ran my race.”
The top 15 runners who were not members of qualifying teams also advanced, and that list included Mitchell’s Reece Grissom (33rd in 19:23.26) and Caedon Goldsberry (42nd in 19:52.59).
In the girls race, BNL’s pack approach suffered a hit last month when veteran Francesca Orozco went down with a season-ending injury. But the Stars still had the necessary depth as freshman Elise Williams crossed 19th in 21:52.27, followed by sophomore Madison Chandler (21st in 22:06.93) and sophomore Jabrie Sullivan (23rd in 22:24.39).
“It started very rough,” Williams said. “We were just trying to stay up there and count off the people we were passing.”
“We raced hard in some tough conditions,” BNL co-coach Danielle Garrison said. “We’re out and that was the goal. I’m excited we get another week to work.”
Every point was critical for BNL to reach its pre-meet projection of third. Evija Buike was 26th in 22:32.16 and Gracie Simmerman was 35th in 23:31.49 to cap the team scoring.
“I just wanted to make it out,” BNL co-coach Amy Spence said. “I expected us to come in third and we were confident we would make it out. We had some rough races, but our middle (of the lineup) looked fantastic. Everyone was off their routine (with fall break from school), so making it out was what we were planning.”
Bloomington South’s Jasmine Martogolio was the individual champion in 18:46.95. Mitchell’s Zoey Smith (22:26.53), Leighann Thompson (22:36.58) and Jennifer Guevara (23:23.23) were among the individual qualifiers.
The regional is set for Oct. 21. The top five teams and top 15 individuals who are not members of advancing teams will move on to the state finals (the semistate level was eliminated this year) at Terre Haute on Oct. 28.