|Memorable Season Comes to an End for SD Cross CountryAt the always-tough Carmel Semi-State, the South Dearborn Boys Cross Country team’s season came to an end on a cold and blustery day on Saturday at the Northview Church Cross Country Course. The Knights, led by senior co-captain Joe Rector’s 53rd place performance, finished 18th out of 20 complete teams. The field featured 10 Top 25 ranked teams (including #1 Carmel—ranked #19). “It is very difficult to find a state tournament meet in the nation, that isn’t a state championship meet, which is more competitive than this. However, this is the way this meet has always been. By comparison, you put us in the Brown County Semi-State, and we have a chance to make it to state,” said Coach Jeremy Baney, now in his 3rd year as Head Cross Country Coach at SD (16th overall).
Dustin Beach was next for the Knights in 95th place, followed by senior co-captain DJ Sander (125) Jarod Davis (138), Jacob Lane (146), Nolan Bridges(148), and Sean Groves(174). “Joe had a strong performance today—only 3 seconds from his best time ever. The packs or runners were large, so when he went to pass, he had to go wide on the course’s many turns. Dustin ran an excellent, even race, but didn’t have much left in the tank at the finish. DJ felt a little weak through the first 2K, but then started to pour it on the rest of the way. After a couple of disappointing races, Jarod was finally able to put together a solid effort that he was proud of. Jacob and Nolan packed-up for most of the race and had, I think, their best meet of the season. Sean has improved exponentially since last season. He was a touch weak today, but still ran tough.”
This season, the Knights won the Rushville Invitational, the Martinsville Artesian Classic, the Randolph Southern Invitational, Connersville Invitational, and their fourth-straight EIAC Championship for a combined regular season record of 78 – 2.
Baney admits the turning point was at Martinsville. “We were still in our mileage-building stage at the time, and Sander was coming back from a little sickness and nagging leg tightness. I didn’t expect the outstanding performances that I got from the guys. We had an extremely tight pack. The boys got a huge boost of confidence since we had great times and won off of essentially mileage-building.”
They went on to capture their fourth-straight IHSAA Sectional on their home course. “Once the IHSAA realigned the Sectional sites and teams in 2007, it worked out well for us. No longer would we have to compete against National powerhouse Columbus North. Opportunity knocked and we opened the door.” The Knights finished 3rd in the Greensburg Regional, SD’s best Regional finish since winning it 1984. “It took me a few days for it to sink in,” said Baney. “South Dearborn beating an MIC school in Center Grove? Now that’s impressive.”
The Lady Knights, although not garnering all of the accolades as the boys, still managed a respectable season. The SD girls placed high in many of the larger meets and were able to qualify for Regional for the second-straight year. “We were never really at 100% as a team this season health-wise. We were plagued with injuries all season, but they were able to come back. I am so proud of my girls. What a season for them; tremendous improvement from last year, and we saved our best for the Regional. Six out of our varsity set season bests or personal bests that day. The girls were ready to go and to prove something. We came up short, but you can’t argue with our effort. I am glad they gave all they had.”
A big part their success this season came as a result of the four SD Seniors: Crystal Nichols, Brittney Merida, Kadijah Hetzer, and Nicole Martini. “They each had some struggles early this season, but the Regional was a great way to finish their high school CC careers. Crystal has been such a great leader this season. Kadijah and Nicole have been with the program since the 7th grade. Just when we thought it was time for Kadijah to have a huge race, she suffered a slight hip injury and wasn’t able to finish-out the way she wanted. Nicole had a great summer of training and had some lofty goals for the season and was able to accomplish them. And Merida had a huge, breakout season this year; she won some medals and placed high in many meets.”
The Senior Lady Knights were supported by some young talent. Sophomores Erika Beil and Tate Adams provided the team with depth. “Erika is the model of consistency; always willing to do whatever you ask of her; #2 all-time at SD; improvement with every meet. Tate Adams had a noteworthy season, a year after tearing her Achilles’ tendon in her first meet as a freshman. I think she finally realizes her potential.”
Freshmen Melody Dreyer and Michaela Stehlin both suffered significant injuries early. “After both worked extremely hard in the early season, it was tough to see them not running for the weeks they were off, because I knew they could contribute to our varsity scoring. Thankfully, they were both able to come back. I am looking forward to next season to see them use the talents they were blessed with.”
“I think our girls have a sense of unfinished business. The SD distance girls are pumped for track and field.”
The other two SD Seniors are Andrew Bruner and Caleb Robbins. “Andrew came in this season after three years on varsity, but didn’t have the season he wanted. He was out for five weeks because of a foot injury, but I am so glad he was able to get one more race in. Robbins’ main sport is wrestling. So he began to run mainly to get in shape for that, but has learned CC and has had a great time. Hopefully we can get more wrestlers out for CC in the future.”
“I am so fortunate to be coaching such upstanding young men and women. I have great assistant coaches in Amy Tush, Traci Adams, and Carla Listerman.” Tush is a former head Women’s Coach at Northwestern University.