By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — MUNCIE — On a cold, rainy, windy day that featured less than desirable conditions for spectators, the girls cross country runners from Pendleton Heights found success in the Delta Regional on Saturday at the Muncie Sportsplex.
Following up its sectional win on Tuesday, the Pendleton Heights Arabians took the crown by a wide margin, 28-97, over the Delta Eagles.
Alex Buck, the Madison County champion and sectional winner, paced her way to a regional win in a time of 18:53.89, 36 seconds ahead of Muncie Burris runner Michelle Kent.
Pendleton Heights placed five runners in the top 10, and Faith Baer came home 13th to round out a strong run for the Arabians.
“It was right where I expected them to be,” Pendleton Heights coach Melissa Hagerman said.
Buck led nearly from wire to wire to qualify for the semistate at New Haven next weekend.
“It’s really exciting,” Buck said of her win. “It’s a lot of fun to represent our cross country team, and I am really excited to see what we’re going to do next week.”
The weather did no favors for the large crowd of spectators on hand, but the course held up well.
“The course was good, it’s a fast course” said Buck. “It was a little muddy in spots, but it was good for the most part.”
Madison County was well represented at the regional with teams from Lapel and Shenandoah as well as individual runners from Anderson, Elwood, Frankton and Liberty Christian joining the Arabians.
Lapel finished eighth, while Shenandoah came in 10th.
Pendleton Heights' Alli McCarty finished third, Monica Dudley was fifth, Emma Hall was ninth and Maddi Hinton rounded out the scoring with a 10th-place finish. Baer was 13th for the Arabians while Chelsea Blackwell was 23rd.
Lapel advanced one runner to next week’s semistate as Mandie Flora finished 26th for the Bulldogs. Sierra Ratzlaff finished 32nd, one spot shy of advancing as an individual. Rounding out the Bulldog lineup was Micah Bryan (56th), Lilly Ratzlaff (62nd), Plensah Sakeuh (69th), Grace Rusche (73rd) and Brianna Miller (77th).
Shenandoah was led by Cadence Harter’s 27th-place run, which was good enough to advance Harter to the semistate. Kate Graddy finished 33rd, Kassidy Hawk was 79th, Diamond McBride was 85th and Ashley Brown was 86th.
Individually, Liberty Christian’s Michaela McCurdy finished 29th which will send her to the semistate next Saturday.
Other individual runners that participated in the regional were Anderson’s Tracey Harvey (46th) and Olivia Landes (81st), Elwood’s Jamie Harris (78th), Frankton’s Katie Quick (47th) and Sherrie Riser (58th). Daleville’s Ashley Kincaid was 64th, and Hannah Karkosky was 70th. Alexandria’s Courtney Skinner finished 75th.
The semistate will be at New Haven next Saturday at 1 p.m. Pendleton Heights' girls are very familiar with the course as Buck, Hinton, Blackwell and Dudley ran in the semistate last year and the team participated in an invitational there this year to gain even more experience.
“It’s not as open, with more wooded areas and more hills,” Hagerman said comparing New Haven to the Sportsplex course. “Running at the invite this year will definitely help. We were the last ones to leave the course.”
Other teams advancing include Jay County, Muncie Burris, Mt. Vernon and Yorktown.