INDIANAPOLIS – The Zionsville girls cross country team knows how to manuever their way through the long grind of the post-season.
With a veteran group that all have at least two years experience, the Lady Eagles are able to focus on each step of the journey with the focus on the bigger picture at hand.
That paid dividends again on Saturday morning, when they cruised to the Ben Davis Regional title for the fifth-straight year, scoring 32 points to beat second-place Brownsburg by 43.
“The mental aspect of the tournament season gets easier as they have done it more than once,” Zionsville head coach Suzanne Rigg said. “They can handle the nerves and pressure better. We wanted to come in, get the job done and move on to the next step.”
The Eagles 32 points were the third-lowest they have ever scored in the regional.
But based on average time as a team, this was the fastest the team has ever been at the regional, running an average of 18:43 for their seven runners.
“We really wanted to get a solid race in,” Rigg said. “We didn’t want to go completely all out, but we wanted to run hard today. The girls did a good job of that.”
Senior Katelyn Wasson won the regional title for the first time ever, pulling away in the final mile to win in a time of 18:03.1.
She was eight seconds ahead of the nearest competitor.
“She has been doing really well,” Rigg said. “She is super, super solid right now and once we get a little more of that speed into our training, I think things are going to get even better for her.”
Anna Settle nearly made it a 1-2 finish for the Eagles, placing third in a time of 18:11.7, just 0.3 seconds out of second place.
Margaret Allen was sixth in 18:49.8, and Lydia Moore made it four Eagles in the top-10, placing ninth in 19:03.5.
Sarah Petersen was 14th in a time of 19:29.4 to be the final scoring Eagle, with Lauren Rinehart placing 16th in 19:32.1 and Isabella Brady placing 22nd in 19:49.6 to round out the line-up.
“That ‘pack’ in the middle of the line-up, even if it breaks up a bit, is an important part of our team,” Rigg said. “They are really feeding off each other. They may not always be right next to each other, but they are staying within contact.”
Rigg said the pack running is something they don’t necessarily practice, but it is something they talk about in their preparation for races.
“We don’t really work on it, but we do talk about it,” Rigg said. “It’s how we train in practice, we don’t necessarily go out and say ‘this is how you are going to run it,’ but it is natural in training groups and we talk about it. Mentally for them, it’s important to have that support.”
The Eagles will now look to advance to the state finals for the seventh-straight season.
The boys race is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., with the girls race to follow.
“We are just going to stay on the same progression and plan,” Rigg said. “We aren’t going crazy this week, or go crazy at the semi-state, it is just another stepping stone en route to our ultimate goal at the state meet.”