For the past several years the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference cross country scene has been highly competitive. Every year it seemed three of four teams had a legitimate shot at winning - for both the boys and the girls. And a bumper crop of individuals made the race to the top interesting.
But with Alli Workman no longer around to dominate, and every boys team graduating its ace runner, there hasn’t been quite the buzz generated.
Bloomfield’s Workman, of course is now running for Indiana State University, along with Shakamak’s Clay Reynolds.
Eastern Greene’s John Kirts (Wabash College), Linton-Stockton’s Janzen Franklin (Vincennes University) and White River Valley’s Buddy Davis (Harding University) have also moved on the the next level.
But there’s still enough left over, for both the boys and the girls, to make for a pair of compelling - and competitive - races in Saturday’s SWIAC meet at Shakamak.
Eastern Greene, WRV and Bloomfield will all be vying for team honors at least among Greene County schools.
But maybe none of them can catch Clay City. The Eels ran to a fourth-place finish at the South Knox Invitational two weeks ago, well ahead of the T-Birds in 10th and the Lakers in 12th.
The Cardinals’ Luke Vandeventer, the Wolverines’ Brayton Cornelius and the T-Birds’ Justin Terry are expected to battle it out for the area’s top individual spot.
Bloomfield’s Dylan Richardson and Jacob King, Eastern’s Jakob Thastum and Jag Butcher, Shakamak’s Rylee Landry and WRV’s Dakota Sparks should all figure in the mix.
The Eels’ Logan Thomas finished fifth individually at South Knox, one minute ahead of Eastern’s Terry, the area’s top finisher in 24th.
Clay City’s Kyle Wolf finished 10th.
So it looks like the Eels will probably be the favorite, at least on the boys side.
For the girls, Eastern Greene and Shakamak both appear to have a very good chance at the conference title.
The Lady Lakers boasts two of the conference’s top runners - senior Liz Bredeweg and freshman Jacy Collins - along with Clay City’s Alexis Laswell.
Bredeweg outran Laswell by a wide margin at the Edgewood Invitational. Laswell got her at South Knox. Both Bredeweg and Collins beat out Laswell in Saturday’s Shakamak Invitational.
The Lady Lakers freshman finished 10 seconds behind her senior teammate at South Knox and just five seconds behind in the Laker Invite.
She’ll be one to watch in the years to come.
The Lady Thunderbirds quintet of Sierra Ford, Lynnly Kirkman, Jessica Deford, Elena Kirts and Zoie Cramer runs together in a pack, accumulating team points that way.
One thing is certain. Saturday’s forecast for high temperatures in the 60s with overcast skies and a chance of showers will be much more favorable to the runners that last week’s temperatures hovering near 90.
The hottest September in 75 years combined with the wettest August I can remember have conspired to keep runners’ times a little on the high side this season.
While the cooler temps will be much more to the runners’ liking, a chance of rain the rest of the week might still make for a slow course.
Good Luck to all the runners at Saturday’s SWIAC meet. Finish strong!
Terry Schwinghammer is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, ext. 27. He can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.