Luke Bantz and his coach will tell you it has been a good year for the Union County Cross Country runner.

“I'm very proud of him. He had an amazing season with several first-place finishes. I couldn’t ask for a better athlete,” UC coach Phil Cox said.

The UC senior won the three-way meet with Monroe Central and Winchester; the Union City Invitational; the three3-way meet at Tri; Centerville Invitational, Union County Invitational; Tri-Eastern Conference runner-up; and advanced through the state meet to last Saturday’s Shelbyville Semi-State.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” Bantz said.

Had anyone told the Class 2 Cross Country Semi-State qualifier his final race would take place in weather conditions the likes he had never encountered before, he probably would have laughed. But take it from me, the weather throughout the state last Saturday was not ideal for running, let alone competing at the top level.

Cool temperatures, brisk wind and persistent rain throughout the morning hours were not the best for cross country competition, but, 179 Hoosier high school male runners and 180 females didn’t back down.

“We hid in the warm bus before the start and left early after it ended,” Cox confessed. “Luke was feeling strong and had a good run, 17:34; however, the competition was pretty intense, and I’m sure the conditions were a bit overwhelming.”

“It was pretty wet but still fun,” Bantz said with a smile. “Slippery and muddy. I tried to stay dry.”

“Overall I rate this season as a success with the girls team making it as a team to regional along with the "Lukes" (Paddock and Bantz).” Cox said. “I've learned a lot this season (what it takes to coach at this level), and I will be making several adjustments to be better next year.

Priscilla Kelly and Vanessa West accompanied Bantz to the semi-state and also returned home wet to the bone.

“It’s been a good career,” Bantz said. “I’ve enjoyed it.”

The top six cross country teams (boys and girls) and the top 10 individuals not on an advancing team advanced to the IHSAA state finals on Saturday, Nov. 2, at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute.

Plainfield senior Dalton Kane ran all alone at the finish line to win the boys race in 15:29. Carmel won the boys team title and was 21 points in front of Center Grove in second place. Brebeuf, Brownsburg, Noblesville and Zionsville teams also advanced to the state finals.

Brebeuf sophomore Madeline Keller posted 18:22 to win the girls race and led the Lady Braves to a third-place finish behind Carmel and Zionsville. Chatard, Noblesville and Ritter teams also qualified for the state finals.

State Finals
The IHSAA cross country State finals is Saturday, Nov. 2, at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, Wabash Valley Sports Center, in Terre Haute. The boys race begins at 1 p.m. The girls race will follow at 1:45 p.m. Admission is $10.

2019 IHSAA Boys Shelbyvillle Cross Country Semi-state Advancing teams/scores: Carmel 89, Center Grove 110, Brebeuf Jesuit 119, Brownsburg 120, Noblesville 169, Zionsville 177.

2018 IHSAA Cross Country Semi-state boys top 10: Kane (P) 15:29, Garcia (Z) 15:37, Kovach (BJ) 15:40, Frey (NC) 15:40, Hickner (N) 15:46, Mathison (C) 15:50, Stamm (CR) 15:51, Moon (C) 5:06, Freeman 15:53, Hurskoci (IC) 15:55.
UC boys results: Luke Bantz 17:34.

2019 IHSAA Girls Shelbyville Semi-state Cross Country advancing teams/scores: Zionsville 86, Carmel 95, Brebeuf Jesuit 135, Indianapolis Bishop Chartard 149, Noblesville 154, Cardinal Ritter 169.

2018 IHSAA Girls Cross Country Semi-state top 10: Keller (BJ) 18:22, Cridge (IBC) 18:28, M.Wehrle (CR) 18:33, Dixon (B) 18:34, Mitchell (HH) 18:36, Hanna (Gr) 18:38, Kennedy (PT) 18:38, Wa0sson (Z) 18:39, MA.Wehrle (CR) 18:44, Simmons (BJ) 18:51. 180 Runners.

Area girls results: Erica Barker, 76th, (SC) 20:36. Lauren Kelly (FC) 79th, 20:44. Tylissa Beckner (Co) 88th, 20:51. Emily Tedder (Ce) 94th, 20:55. Bailey Puckett (L) 108th, 21:16. Katelyn Meyer (FC) 161st, 22:37.