Photos by Tim Creason | For The Journal Gazette Carroll’s Connor Goetz sprints toward the finish chute Saturday at the state cross country finals in Terre Haute. Goetz was the top area finisher in the boys meet, placing 13th. Afterward, he won the IHSAA mental attitude award.
Concordia's Reece Gibson, right, races uphill to a 19th-place finish.
Sunday, October 29, 2017 1:00 am
Boys state cross country
Carroll's Goetz places 13th
Mental attitude winner; Chargers finish 7th
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 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 kilometers, finishing 13th overall.
Frigid winds blanketed the Wabash Valley Sports Center, a substantial difference from the moderate weather that had marked most of this high school season.
“It was a big change from semistate,” Goetz said. “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,” Carroll coach David Brooks said. “Out of the 11 guys on our postseason 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 team champion, placing four runners among the top 35 finishers, to top runner-up Fishers 94-152.
Carroll scored 256. Concordia placed 18th and West Noble was 24th.
Gabe Fendel of Hamilton Southeastern clocked 15:17.2 for the individual championship.
Cole Hocker of Indianapolis Cathedral was a couple seconds back as runner-up.
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,” Goetz said. “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 coach Scott Steffen noted was the result of illness.
“If you took Reece's temperature right now, I bet he'd have a fever,” Steffen said. “He looked horrible last night at dinner and wasn't feeling well today. Just one of those things that happens.”