I was originally planning on writing this week’s column about flat-earther Kyrie Irving and his ridiculous stance on the COVID vaccine and Lebron James and his wishy-washy endorsement of the vaccine. The topic of certain politicians who go from telling athletes to “shut up and dribble” to praising them depending on what stance is being taken may have come up as well.
But, with the combination of reading several national columns on the topic and witnessing some cool stuff Tuesday, I thought I’d revisit a topic I’ve talked about before and that is just how fun and awesome cross country meets really are.
First, there was my postrace interview with Pendleton Heights senior Avry Carpenter, who was still breathless after just winning the Madison County championship.
Multiple times while we were chatting, other runners who had earlier been competing with Carpenter and trying to keep up with him, walked by and congratulated him and patted him on the back. It was a great example of the community formed by runners, who frequently train with one another whether they are on the same teams or not.
That support for one another is certainly true of teammates as well.
The boys race was first, followed by the girls. After the boys were finished, most took their replenishing water bottles and took up position along the John Rhoades Course route to root on their girls teammates. One of those near the finish line was Frankton sophomore Hunter Smith, who had just placed fifth and earned his second straight All-County award.
As the top Eagles girls runner — Jewell Cline — crossed the finish line in 14th place, she collapsed from exhaustion. Smith was one of the first to her aid, trying to help her up. When it was apparent she was unable to stay on her feet, Smith picked her up and carried her from the finishing area to the Frankton tent.
It is notable Frankton’s team area was located next to the soccer field’s concession stand and the finish line is well beyond the other end of the field. So, after running a strong 5K himself, he came to the aid of a teammate and carried her at least 150 yards to where she could recover.
It was also good to see PH senior Katie Jones at the race Tuesday. Unfortunately, she will be unable to run this season due to a health issue, bringing a premature end to a great cross country career.
But the two-time THB Sports Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year and 2020 Madison County champ was there regardless, supporting her team and helping the coaches. Arabians coach Melissa Hagerman could not stop praising Jones for her positive attitude throughout what has been a tough season for her.
Having spoken with Jones many times, that was hardly a surprise.
With so much ugliness in the world today, it was great to leave an event with a smile on my face. Not just because of the outstanding competition, but due to the extraordinary sportsmanship that was on display.
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On a separate note, we all wish Lapel junior Macy Beeson the best of luck this weekend as she seeks to defend her IHSAA state golf championship at Prairie View in Carmel. Repeating as a champion on any level is difficult and is especially tough in the world of golf with all its variables. Beeson certainly has the game and is physically and mentally capable of pulling it off, and I wish her well.