Calloway returns to state finals, is part of Stalbaum’s enthusiasm for 2021
Winamac girls take 17th; Hiatt runs 17:03 to lead area boys
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Rochester junior Madilyn Calloway is headed back to the IHSAA state cross-country finals.
But that is only part of why RHS coach Scott Stalbaum is enthusiastic.
He’s also enthusiastic for what it might mean for 2021.
First things first: Calloway is headed back to state. She ran a season-best 19:07 at the New Prairie semistate Saturday.
The top 10 runners on non-advancing teams advance to state. She finished eighth overall and fourth among runners on non-advancing teams.
Calloway’s semistate time was her third-fastest. She ran an 18:51 at the 2019 New Prairie semistate and an 18:58 at the 2019 IHSAA state finals.
RHS finished 13th out of 20 teams at semistate. Only the top six teams advanced to state.
Chesterton won the semistate with 110 points, and Valparaiso (143), Lake Central (159), Warsaw (162), Culver Academy (172) and Wheeler (190) also advanced to state.
RHS has made semistate seven times in the last 10 years. They have finished better than 13th at semistate before. They were 10th in 2019 and eighth in 2012.
But in 2019, RHS had three seniors: Mallory Hiatt, Charlie Pocock and Ava Cannedy. The 2012 team also had three seniors: Anna Meyer, Delaney VandenBossche and Kaylea Stump.
The 2020 RHS team has no seniors and finished 13th without Araceli Ochoa, an all-conference runner who ran as fast as 20:19 earlier this year. Ochoa missed the regional and semistate with a stress fracture.
In addition, sophomores Zoe Seward, Kendyll Bradley and Maddie Heinzmann keep getting faster. Seward, Bradley and Heinzmann ran a 19:56, 21:05 and 21:59 at semistate, respectively. Those were personal best times for all three. Seward was 24th, Bradley was 94th, and Heinzmann was 137th.
Add in a season-best 22:28 from Elena Bode, who finished in 147th, and a personal-best 25:41 from Elly Fuller, who finished in 179th, and Stalbaum thinks a state finals appearance is possible.
In fact, according to Stalbaum, it might be more than possible.
“Other coaches I talked to thought the course ran ‘slow’ because it was soggy, but we were not slow at all,” Stalbaum said. “I think we were likely the only team there who had everyone run their season best. Even if you plug Araceli in at a 20:30… we still finish in ninth place, ahead of Crown Point and about 15 points behind eighth-place Seeger.
Stalbaum projected further, acknowledging that good health in a sport where pain tolerance is key will be crucial.
“Every team ahead of us graduated vital runners,” Stalbaum said. “We return everyone. If we are healthy and all the girls train properly through track season and summer, we should be a heavy favorite to qualify for our first state finals ever.”
The landscape in girls cross-country might be changing, and it appears to be changing in a way that it is not in boys cross-country.
Cross-country is a one-class sport, which makes it difficult for smaller schools to make the state finals.
It might be easier for a girls team to make the state finals from a smaller school than a boys team. That’s because the top male athletes at a smaller school might be tempted by football, soccer or even tennis.
Meanwhile, there is not quite so much competition for top female athletes at smaller schools. Though the IHSAA also offers golf, soccer and volleyball for girls during the fall, those sports don’t eat up the numbers that the boys fall sports too.
(For Bradley, it wasn't a binary choice. She plays soccer in addition to running cross-country.)
Wheeler, with an enrollment of 535, made the state finals. Their making state might be as big a story as the five teams that finished ahead of them.
Seeger, with an enrollment of 380, was eighth. Seeger had the smallest enrollment of the 20 schools at semistate. That came one week after Seeger upset West Lafayette at the Harrison regional. West Lafayette, whose enrollment is 775, had won that regional 10 straight years and 18 times in the last 20 years.
If Seeger and Wheeler can succeed against bigger schools, can Rochester also do it?
Rochester’s enrollment is 497.
Calloway coming around
Calloway’s previous best time was a 19:21 at the TRC meet three weeks earlier at Tippecanoe Valley.
Her season best in 2018 was 19:56, which came at semistate. That was the first time she ever broke 20 minutes.
Her season best time in 2019 was at semistate, which was the first time she ever broke 19 minutes.
Now she has set a season best again at New Prairie.
“Last year she ran OK at the regional but really broke out at the semistate,” Stalbaum said. “She ran OK at semistate, but the real goal is for her to break out and be at her very best at state. Look for her to run a big PR and challenge for the top 20. That may be a lofty goal, but consider last year she finished third at semistate. … So if she peaks properly like we think, it is going to be a fun state meet.”
The top 25 runners at state make the all-state team. Calloway was 30th last year.
Seward’s personal best prior to semistate was a 20:10 at the Logansport regional last week. Bradley chopped off 22 seconds from her regional time, and that came one week after dropping 55 seconds off her sectional time at regional.
Heinzmann went from a 22:54 at sectional to a 22:36 at regional to her personal best at semistate.
Bode went from 23:29 at sectional to 23:13 at regional to 22:28 at semistate.
Ochoa ran a 20:35 at the New Prairie Invitational back on Sept. 19. She ran a 20:54 at the 2019 semistate there.
Winamac takes 17th
The Winamac girls finished 17th in their first semistate appearance ever.
Maggie Smith led Winamac in 20:26, good for 47th place. Kelsey Wegner ran a 21:04 and finished 91st, Kate Collins ran a 21:22 and finished 109th, Alexis Sheets ran a 21:33 and finished 116th, and Bethany Poor ran a 22:55 and finished 155th. None of Winamac’s top five runners are seniors. Senior Emily Rausch (24:10, 170th) and Kingsley Kroft (24:59, 176th) rounded out the Winamac lineup.
Montgomery finishes 81st
Pioneer freshman Violet Montgomery ran a 20:59 and finished 81st in her first semistate.
Stalbaum: Hiatt can be 'threat’ to make state in 2021
RHS junior Peyton Hiatt ran a 17:03 at the semistate, good for 45th place in a field of 178 runners.
His time was 41 seconds faster than his 2019 semistate time and 1:32 faster than his 2018 semistate time as a freshman.
Getting off to a purposely slower start helped him save energy for the end.
“Peyton ran his first mile under control and finished way better than he did the last couple of years,” Stalbaum said. “I think he can be a threat to be a state finalist as a senior now that he has some race experience getting up there in the top 50.”
As for teammate Dylan Steininger, he ran an 18:19 and finished in 148th place.
“He was the most improved runner on the team this year and was a workhorse all year,” Stalbaum said. “I think the fact that we tapered him off a little early for sectional and regional to try to get the boys team out left him a little stale for his last race of the year. Looking forward to him having a strong senior season next year.”
Other area boys
Tippecanoe Valley senior Matthew Howes, competing in his third consecutive semistate, ran a 17:39 and finished in 96th place.
Winamac’s Kolbey Wegner, the older brother of Kelsey, ran a 17:42 and finished 100th.
Chesterton won the team semistate title with 92 points. Warsaw (118), Crown Point (119), Lake Central (165), Western (178) and Munster (222) also advanced to state.
Lowell’s Karina James (18:02) and Highland’s Luicas Guerra (15:26) were the individual semistate champions.
Every girl who ran 19:27 or faster made state. Every boy who ran 16:34 or faster made state.
Calloway was not the only TRC runner to make state from New Prairie. Maconaquah’s Abby Jordan ran a 19:26 and advanced as the ninth fastest individual.
No TRC boy made it to state from New Prairie. Manchester’s Carter Bedke ran a 16:35 and missed out by one second.
NEW PRAIRIE SEMISTATE GIRLS RESULTS (POINTS IN PARENTHESES; TOP SIX TEAMS ADVANCE TO STATE): Chesterton 110, Valparaiso 143, Lake Central 159, Warsaw 162, Culver Academy 172, Wheeler 190, West Lafayette 191, Seeger 216, Crown Point 253, Lowell 267, Harrison (West Lafayette) 272, LaPorte 292, Rochester 318, Portage 334, McCutcheon 343, Maconaquah 356, Winamac 403, Highland 440, Hanover Central 443, Benton Central 458
Rochester results (318 points, 13th place)
8. Madilyn Calloway - 19:07 (6), 24. Zoe Seward - 19:56 (20), 94. Kendyll Bradley - 21:05 (75), 137. Maddie Heinzmann - 21:59 (105), 147. Elena Bode - 22:28 (112), 179. Elly Fuller - 25:41
Winamac results (403 points, 17th place)
47. Maggie Smith - 20:26 (40), 91. Kelsey Wegner - 21:04 (72), 109. Kate Collins - 21:22 (83), 116. Alexis Sheets - 21:33 (90), 155. Bethany Poor - 22:55 (118), 170. Emily Rausch - 24:10, 176. Kingsley Kroft - 24:59
81. Violet Montgomery - 20:59
Top 10 individuals on non-advancing teams: 1. Karina James (Lowell) - 18:08, 2. Hannah Moore (Northwestern) - 18:51, 3. Lillian Zelasko (New Prairie) - 18:54, 4. Madilyn Calloway (RHS) - 19:07, 5. Haley Mansfield (West Lafayette) - 19:08, 6. Ella Bensz (LaPorte) - 19:09, 7. Morgan McCulloch (Portage) - 19:11, 8. Jennifer Romero (Seeger) - 19:21, 9. Abby Jordan (Maconaquah) - 19:26, 10. Jaelyn Burgos (Crown Point) - 19:27
Individual champion: Karina James (Lowell) - 18:08
NEW PRAIRIE SEMISTATE BOYS RESULTS (POINTS IN PARENTHESES; TOP SIX TEAMS ADVANCE TO STATE): Chesterton 92, Warsaw 118, Crown Point 119, Lake Central 165, Western 178, Munster 222, Harrison (West Lafayette) 242, Valparaiso 244, LaPorte 252, Hanover Central 289, West Lafayette 310, Morgan Township 323, Illiana Christian 324, New Prairie 333, Plymouth 335, Culver Academy 344, McCutcheon 366, Lafayette Jeff 397, Rossville 413, Manchester 523
45. Peyton Hiatt - 17:03, 148. Dylan Steininger - 18:19
Tippecanoe Valley results
96. Matthew Howes - 17:39
100. Kolbey Wegner - 17:42
Top 10 individuals on non-advancing teams: 1. Lucas Guerra (Highland) - 15:26, 2. Cole Raymond (LaPorte) - 16:13, 3. Leonel Soriano (Harrison (West Lafayette)) - 16:25, 4. Jackson Bakker (Lowell) - 16:27, 5. Samuel Tullis (Culver Academy) - 16:28.3, 6. Joshua Baltes (New Prairie) - 16:28.5, 7. Zachary Dunn (Merrillville) - 16:29.2, 8. Justin VanProoyen (Illiana Christian) - 16:29.3, 9. Dieubeni Baributsa (Harrison (West Lafayette)) - 16:34.2, 10. Jonathan Baxter, Jr. (Griffith) - 16:34.8
Individual champion: Lucas Guerra (Highland) - 15:26
The Rochester girls cross-country team enjoys a fun moment after winning the Three Rivers Conference title Oct. 3. Clockwise, from top – Elly Fuller, Maddie Heinzmann, Zoe Seward, Madilyn Calloway, Araceli Ochoa, Kendyll Bradley
Pioneer Freshman Runner Violet Montgomery from the Logansport Regional. Montgomery ran a 20:59 for 81st place in her first trip to semi-state Saturday.
Rochester’s Elena Bode runs at the Three Rivers Conference meet Oct. 3.
Rochester’s Peyton Hiatt was the top area runner at the New Prairie semistate Saturday. He ran a 17:03, just one second off his personal best, and finished in 45th place.