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FC celebrates historic day at cross country sectional

By Tyler Whittamore

CONNERSVILLE – Even a strong wind could not hold the Franklin County Wildcats back during the annual cross country sectional races at Connersville High School on Saturday, October 7. For the first time in school history, the FC girls' cross country team is advancing as a group in the state tournament. Two members of the FC boys' team are also regional bound.

Girls Race

The Franklin County Lady Wildcats turned in one of their best team performances of the year, and at the best time. The Lady 'Cats were at the top of their game on Saturday, bringing home four top-25 individual finishes, powering the team to a third-place finish overall. The advancement marks the first time in FCHS history that the ladies' team has qualified as a unit.

Leading the way for Franklin County was freshman Lauren Kelley. After setting the school record earlier in the year, Kelley anchored the Lady Wildcats' team by being the third runner to cross the finish line in the girls' race. The freshman logged a time of 21 minutes, 53 seconds to help FC gain an edge in advancing as a squad.

Katelyn Meyer finished with a time of 23:46, claiming 17th overall for FC. She was followed by junior Taylor Stewart (24:26) and sophomore Kairee Hodapp (24:54), who finished 21st and 25th, respectively. Josie Selm (25:46), Novalynne Beck (26:07) and Kat Putnick (26:33) also competed for the qualifying Lady Wildcats.

The top five teams advanced in the state tourney. Rushville was the overall sectional champion in the girls' race. The Lady Lions registered four top-10 finishes, including fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth places. Union County placed second overall, followed by the Lady Wildcats.

Centerville was the fourth place team, netting two top-10s. The two best times of the day both belonged to Seton Catholic runners. Jenna Barker finished well in front of the pack, taking the title with a time of 20:34. She was followed by Hanna Stamm (21:39) in second place. Despite the impressive finish, Seton barely qualified for advancement, taking fifth place.

The top 10 individual runners that did not qualify with a team will also make the trip to the Rushville Regional at Benjamin Rush Middle School on Saturday, October 14, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Connersville, Hagerstown, Tri, Knightstown, and New Castle will all be represented in the tournament.

Boys Race

More than 80 runners took to the Connersville course for the boys' sectional race on Saturday. When all was said and done, the Wildcats missed advancing, but a pair of seniors will continue their final season at the regional tourney.

Franklin County was led by Evan Apsley. The senior crossed the finish line in a time of 18:57, taking 15th place overall. Two spots later, fellow senior Cody Moore finished with a time of 19:03, for 17th place overall. Both FC runners will ply their skills at the Rushville Regional this weekend.

The Wildcats placed one more runner in the top 30. Freshman Andrew Grant came in with a time of 19:36 for 29th overall. Tanner Lainhart (21:53), Kyle Seibert (22:31), Hunter Mayfield (22:51) and Jackson Brumback (26:29) also finished for FC. The team finished 8th overall out of 12 competing teams.

Hagerstown won the team championship for the boys' race, placing three in the top 10. Cambridge City Lincoln also advanced after placing second. New Castle (3rd), Rushville (4th) and Connersville (5th) will also compete at the Rushville Regional.

After scoring the top-two finishes in the girls' race, Seton Catholic claimed the second and third spot in the boys' race. Twins, Will Stamm and Paul Stamm, will advance individually. The overall winner of the boys' race was Rushville's Andrew Miller, who helped his team make it to the next round with a time of 17:37.