CARMEL – Greyhounds are one of the fastest breeds of dogs on the planet. For the Carmel boys and girls cross country teams, the nickname couldn’t be more apt.
The Greyhounds swept the team and individual titles Saturday at the Carmel Semistate at Northview Church.
The top-ranked Carmel girls dominated the field, placing three in the top six to finish with 39 points. No. 10 Cathedral was well behind as the runner-up with 108. Carmel junior Sarah Leinheiser won the girls race in 17 minutes, 22 seconds, shattering the 5,000-meter course record of 17:36 set in 2013 by her former teammate Kelcy Welch.
The No. 2 Carmel boys outdistanced top-ranked Fishers 64-74. Senior defending state champion Ben Veatch soared to the individual title for the Greyhounds, winning in 14:58, 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Curtis Eckstein from Oldenburg Academy.
The top six teams advanced to next Saturday’s state finals at the Indiana State course in Terre Haute. The top 10 individuals on non-qualifying teams also advanced.
Leinheiser was in fourth place early in the race, as Greencastle freshman Emma Wilson went out hard to take the early lead. By the time Leinheiser finished, though, no one was within 400 meters of her. At the 3K mark, Cathedral senior Katherine Free was right there with Leinheiser, hanging on her hip, but fell off to finish second in 18:03. Wilson (18:13) placed third.
Leinheiser, whose best time last year was a minute, 10 seconds slower, said she was driven this year in part by what she felt was a disappointing sophomore year, which included her being a postseason alternate last spring in the 3,200 meters on the track team.
“It was hard being an alternate and kind of being on the outside,” she said. “That really affects you.”
Now, not only is she the best runner on her team and the record-holder at Carmel, Leinheiser has the fastest time in the state this year and third fastest in state history.
Stacy Morozov and Maddie Dalton sandwiched Avon’s Taylor Nicholson to respectively place fourth and sixth for the Greyhounds.
“Three girls in the top six at this semistate – that’s saying something,” said Carmel coach Mark Ellington.
Seventh-ranked Zionsville (121) took third in the girls team scoring, with No. 15 Noblesville (130), No. 21 Fishers (158) and No. 19 Hamilton Southeastern (164) closing out the advancing teams.
Veatch led almost from the start, passing Eckstein early and never looking back. Brownsburg’s Hari Sathyamurthy (15:37) was third and Hamilton Southeastern’s Gabe Fendel (15:47) finished fourth.
“My strategy was to just take it from the gun, because I think I’m really fit, and I think that’s how I ran,” said Veatch, who will run next year for Indiana.
Sixth-ranked Westfield (103) finished third in the boys scoring, with No. 9 Hamilton Southeastern (109) fourth and No. 3 Avon (133) fifth. No. 18 Brebeuf (175) topped No. 13 Zionsville (189) to claim the final qualifying spot. A pair of Zionsville runners were tripped up and went down shortly after the start and the Eagles couldn’t recover.
“For our guys to come back after two years in a row losing four seniors and make it to state for our third time, and third in three years, is enormous,” said Brebeuf coach Karl Knerr. “It’s a huge breakout for our program.”