Huntington North’s cross country teams competed at the New Haven Semi-State meet at Huntington University on Saturday, marking the fifth consecutive year both squads have appeared in the semi-state level of the postseason.
Highlighting the day for Huntington North was junior Addison Wiley, who paced the Lady Vikes with a fourth-place finish after stopping the clock at 18:26.1. Wiley’s performance automatically landed her a spot in the State Finals, as each of the top 10 runners not on a qualifying team earn the right to compete as an individual in the final race of the high school season.
Though Wiley’s time was nearly 30 seconds off the mark she posted at the regional meet on Oct. 17, girls cross country head coach Carrie Boxell was pleased with Wiley’s semi-state showing and is optimistic heading into the season’s final weekend.
“Addy has been very consistent all season,” Boxell said. “We developed a plan to keep her legs fresh throughout the tournament and her tournament times were consistently dropping. She ran her season’s best time at Regional. Based on the softness of the HU course due to recent rains and the elevation changes throughout the course, I felt her semi-state performance was very consistent and on track for her best performance next weekend. Overall, Addy is an exceptional runner and a humble leader of our team and I’m proud of her effort.”
The State Finals will be nothing new for Wiley, as it will be her third time competing on the state’s biggest stage. As a freshman, Wiley won the mile run in the 2019 Track and Field State Finals before claiming a seventh-place finish in the 800 meter run shortly thereafter. Wiley then appeared at the 2019 Cross Country State Finals as a sophomore, earning a 10th-place outcome (18:28.6) to cap her first season running cross country.
As a team, the Lady Vikes placed seventh in the girls race, tallying a team total of 202 points. Boxell and the Lady Vikes were pleased with the team’s outing despite falling just short of qualifying for the State Finals as a team, as Homestead claimed the sixth and final advancing spot with 200 points.
“Our team competed well today and we were happy with their performance,” Boxell said. “We wish we could have advanced as a team, but it was certainly a great learning experience. We knew going into semi-state it was going to be very competitive and a true dogfight for those final advancing positions. As the team scores show, just 34 points separated fourth through eighth place. That point spread was very achievable in a race of this magnitude. Unfortunately, we came up two points shy of that final advancing position.”
Finishing second for Huntington North was senior Hanna Whitney, placing 42nd with a time of 20:10.3. Freshman Johanna Bragg rounded out the Lady Vikes’ podium with a 44th-place finish, clocking in less than a second after Whitney at 20:10.7.
Freshmen Ella Colclesser and Gracie Fields completed the scoring group for the Lady Vikes, posting results of 20:48.6 (75th place) and 20:54.0 (79th place), respectively. Freshman Elle McDonald (21:20.7, 118th place) and senior Lillian Clanin (22:00.0, 146th place) also competed for Huntington North, but their times did not factor into the team’s score.
Though the semi-state meet marked the end of the season for the team, Boxell noted how successful and encouraging the season was and is excited for what the future holds for the group.
“Our team has come so far this season and I am very proud of their growth and effort,” Boxell said. “Of our seven varsity runners who competed at the semi-state, only two of them were on the team last season. We brought in a very young, but talented group of freshman. Combining these runners with our other underclassmen has allowed us to have tremendous depth. Four of our seven varsity runners throughout the tournament were true freshman. Their learning curve has been very steep. They truly grew together to become a great running family and I’m proud to be their coach. Their potential is very high and we look forward to next season.”
On the boys side, the Vikings placed 14th in the team standings with a total of 368 points. The mark tied NorthWood for 13th, but NorthWood claimed the tie-breaker with its sixth runner besting that of Huntington North’s.
Junior Jonathan York led the way for the boys team, placing 36th overall with a time of 16:38.8, while junior Harrison Niswander (17:00.5, 61st place), senior Connor Miller (17:28.5, 94th place), junior Gavin Byerly (17:42.2, 116th place) and sophomore Gatlin Boxell (18:08.2, 150th place) completed the scoring quintet for the Vikings.
Junior Dane Blackburn (18:49.2, 167th place) and sophomore Tiler Carr (18:53.8, 172nd place) also ran for Huntington North, but their efforts did not factor into the team’s score.
Boys cross country head coach Tim Schultz was disappointed with how the team performed as a unit at the semi-state meet, but was pleased with the season as a whole.
“I feel we didn’t run up to our capability,” Schultz said. “We had some good effort today, but we are not satisfied with (the) end results. We feel we are a better team than where we finished. Overall, this season has been amazing. The guys have had to make adjustments this season with everything that has happened with COVID-19 and the quarantine. We showed this season that we will be a team to deal with next season.”
With neither team advancing to the final stage of the postseason, Wiley will be the lone athlete to represent Huntington North at the State Finals. Among the four total semi-state meets, Wiley’s time of 18:26.1 ranked 13th.
The State Finals will be held on Oct. 31 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana. The girls race is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. EDT with the girls awards ceremony to follow. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance via GoFan ticketing. A live webstream will be available on a pay-per-view basis through IHSAAtv.org for $14.95.