Tim Creason | For The Journal Gazette Carroll's Connor Goetz sprints toward the finish chute during Saturday's state cross country finals in Terre Haute. Goetz was the top area finisher in the boys meet, placing 13th. Afterwards, he won the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award.
Saturday, October 28, 2017 9:20 pm
Boys state cross country
Carroll's Goetz leads Chargers to 7th at state cross country
TIM CREASON | For The Journal Gazette
TERRE HAUTE – If there was a silver lining in the cloud that hung over Carroll’s cross country program this season, it had to be Connor Goetz.
During the boys state cross country finals Saturday in Terre Haute, Goetz led the Chargers to a seventh place team finish, earned the distinction of being the area’s top individual finisher, and was named the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner.
Quite the trifecta.
“I feel honored, you better believe it,” said Goetz, who clocked 15:44.6 over 5,000-meters, finishing 13th overall.
Frigid winds blanketed the Wabash Valley Sports Center, a big change from the moderate weather that has marked most of this high school season.
“It was a big change from semistate,” said Goetz. “We just had to put it out of our minds. Everybody wanted to do well.”
Carroll was the defending champ, but a rash of injuries stung the Chargers this season, and by Saturday, they were just hoping they could compete for a spot on the IHSAA awards podium.
They missed by two places.
“There were a lot of challenges this season,” said Carroll coach David Brooks. “Out of the 11 guys on our post-season roster, all of them not named Connor Goetz had something physical (injury) to deal with at some time. There was a lot of adversity but they pushed through it.
“For this team to finish seventh, really, to a man, they gave it their all,” Brooks said. “Last year hasn’t even been part of the conversation.”
Carmel was an easy boys team champion, placing four runners among the top 35 finishers and topping Fishers, 94-152.
Carroll scored 256. Concordia placed 18th, while West Noble was 24th.
Gabe Fendel of Hamilton Southeastern clocked 15:17.2 for the individual championship, while Cole Hocker of Indianapolis Cathedral was a couple seconds back as runnerup.
Concordia’s Reece Gibson was 19th in 15:53.3 as the only other area boy to make the awards podium.
Goetz was never part of the lead pack, but never far behind, either. An insane early pace forced a lot of runners to toss their pre-race strategies.
“We knew it would go out fast, but we knew we had to stay under control and run our own pace,” said Goetz. “I was where I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be too far back but I knew it would be extremely fast to go out with that front pack.”
Concordia’s Gibson didn’t look his usual self coming up the homestretch, which Cadet coach Scott Steffen noted was the result of illness.
“If you took Reece’s temperature right now, I bet he’d have a fever,” said Steffen. “He looked horrible last night at dinner and wasn’t feeling well today. Just one of those things that happens.”