TERRE HAUTE – From the day they started at Zionsville, Anna Settle and Katelyn Wasson have been key parts of the Zionsville girls cross country team.

The two runners, along with Margaret Allen, Sarah Petersen and Lauren Rinehart, were part of a strong senior class that helped the Eagles earn four-straight podium finishes, including a state championship in 2017 and back-to-back state runner-ups.

So it was fitting that Wasson and Settle finished their seasons on the podium together, finishing in the top-20 in the state and earning all-state recognition.

Wasson came across the line seventh in a time of 18:19.7.

She said that she knew one of the keys for the race was getting out quickly.

“There are so many really, really good girls, so if you don’t go out aggressively, you are going to get lost in the mix,” Wasson said. “I just wanted to make sure I was up there and in contention. I didn’t want to go out too fast, because with it being downhill you can get carried away, but I wanted to make sure I got out in a good position.”

Settle was less than 10 seconds behind her teammate, finishing 11th in 18:28.9.

She was just 0.5 seconds out of ninth. Settle said the key for the team of Saturday was not losing sight of her teammates.

“The strategy was really to keep close to our next teammate ahead if possible,” Settle said. “We wanted to keep working on closing that gap if possible, work ahead to each group and keep picking people off and keep going.”

Wasson will go down as one of the best girls distance runners in Zionsville history.

Her seventh place finish on Saturday was her best finish yet.

“I was really happy with my race,” Wasson said. “Before the race, with so many seniors, we were all a little sentimental. We said we were just going to run this race for each other. So the last K, I was just thinking about my teammates and doing it all with love.”

Wasson became the first girl in Zionsville history to be all-state all four years.

She placed 15th as a freshman, then 10th as a sophomore and 15th as a junior.

“It’s just really amazing,” Wasson said. “My freshman year, I was not expecting it. Each year has been special in it’s own way. We have worked so hard, each girl has been like family to me and to cap it off with a second-place team finish and an all-state finish is just perfect.”

Wasson was equally as excited for Settle, who earned all-state cross country honors for the first time.

“It is just amazing,” Wasson said. “I have always believed in Anna, she is an amazing runner and person. This was her year and it showed. She worked so hard and she is such a team player.”

It was a perfect cap for what has been a breakout season for her.

While she has been a big contributor on the team, she became a the best No. 2 runner in the state.

“It was awesome,” Settle said. “It really just showed that hard work pays off. I have been working really hard since June, so it was good to see it all pay off.”

In her previous three trips to the State Meet, Settle had never placed better than 60th.

But this year, she put in a lot of work in the off-season and saw it pay off with some early strong results that gave her the belief she needed to have a great end of the year.

“I never really thought I would be up there,” Settle said. “It is even crazy to think about and really rewarding. I think at FlashRock was really a turning point for me and I saw that I could really push myself to that next level.”

While both runners have track seasons to look forward to, Saturday marked the end of their cross country prep careers.

Both said that the family-feel of the team is the thing they will miss the most.

“Really just working hard with my team,” Settle said. “Having them there with me all year, and finishing together all five of us, it’s just been awesome.”

Wasson said the relationships will have the biggest lasting impact.

“Obviously you are going to remember the podium and the PRs, but at the end of the day, the thing I will remember the most is the little things,” Wasson said. “Running in the rain and snow, the super hard workouts you got through because your teammates pushed you on, and all the silly things we laughed about whether it be videos or jokes while we were rolling out. That’s what I am going to remember the most.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

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