5 Things to watch for at this weekend’s New Haven Semi-State
Nicki Southerland After a runner-up finish at the New Haven Semi-State Meet a season ago, sophomore Nicki Southerland will be looking to take top honors at Huntington University this weekend. So far in the tournament, Southerland has won the Delta Sectional by a 2 minute 15 second margin and the Delta Regional by a 1 minute 23 second margin and even though the semi-state round will bring in even more competition, Nicki still figures to be the favorite to come out on top at the New Haven Semi-State this weekend.
Boys' State Hopefuls It appears that heading into Saturday there are a handful of boys with an outside chance of punching a ticket to the state meet but it will in all likelihood require a season best effort to achieve the honor of running one more race this season. On paper, Yorktown’s Luke Harber figures to have the best chance for a boy in ECI to make it to state this year. Harber was the top finishing ECI boy at the Delta Sectional (and sectional champion I might add) and Delta Regional as well as having an ECI season best time of 16:22 this season. Following Harber are a quartet of boys from rival schools Wapahani and Monroe Central including Nick Cook and Brandon Ellis for the Raiders and Tucker Burris and Carter Miller for the Bears. This weekend’s semi-state will be the fourth week in a row that these teams have run against each other with these four runners trading spots with each other each race heading into Saturday.
Girls' State Hopefuls After Southerland, seniors Makayla Robles of Delta and Olivia Keesling of Randolph Southern will be battling to perhaps snatch one of the last individual qualifying spots at the New Haven Semi-State. Last week, Robles placed 5th at the Delta Regional finishing just one second ahead of Keesling who finished 6th. This is also Robles’ fourth consecutive semi-state appearance where she has had impressive finishes in each one including 43rd, 42nd and 30th respectively. Keesling ran in the semi-state last year and placed 76th. Like the boys mentioned above, it will in all likelihood take a season best effort for one of these girls to move on to next week’s IHSAA State Meet, but the fact of the matter is, it takes a herculean effort for any runner anywhere to reach the state meet, so it might as well as be runners in ECI.
Young Guns It is always exciting to see how young runners react to the big moment that is the semi-state meet and this year will undoubtedly be no exception. For the boys, there are a handful of underclassmen to watch including Muncie Central freshman Hayden Bradford, Wapahani sophomore Nick Cook and Monroe Central sophomore Eli Chamberlain. On the girls side, watch out for Blue River freshman Charlee Gibson and sophomore Sydney Fellers, Monroe Central sophomore Addison Coe and the Yorktown freshmen trio of Tori Oliver, Ally Romano and Sophia Goller who will undoubtedly use the experience gained from Saturday’s Semi-State in the years ahead.
Seniors For seniors, the fate of what could be your last meet is always an interesting piece to the racing mix as emotion and the sense of desperation often take over during the race itself. And with this year, there are several ECI runners who could perhaps be running their last IHSAA cross-country meet this weekend. Fighting to race another day will be Makalya Robles, Cameron Eldridge, Ella Painter and Katie Alexander of Delta, Tucker Burris, Carter Miller and Kyler Shumaker of Monroe Central, Jay County’s Lindy Wood, Muncie Burris’ Michael Canfield, Randolph Southern’s Olivia Keesling, Wapahani’s Brandon Ellis and Drayden Gates, Wes-Del’s Luke Harber and Jaci Knott and Yorktown’s Luke Harber, Ryan Bade, Sum Brumley and Grace Huisman. ECI would like to congratulate not only seniors participating in the semi-state this weekend but all seniors across ECI on fantastic running careers and to thank them for helping improve the quality of running and racing across ECI these last four years.