“I think Taryn is right where she wanted be this time of year,” Northwestern coach Dave Stevens said. “Everything has gone well according to what she has planned, and she’s ready for her best race of the season. She’s looking forward to going up there and doing well and advancing to state. Practices went well for her this week, so she’s ready to go.”
Western will be the only area school competing with a full team on the girls side after taking fourth in the regional. Nicole Hampshire led the Panthers in the regional with a 12th-place finish in 20:20, while teammate Erin Knepley was 19th at 20:48.
Taylor’s Cami Hansen will also compete at New Prairie after a 17th-place finish (20:39) in the regional.
On the boys side, Western and Kokomo will send full teams to New Prairie after taking second and third in the Culver Academies Regional. A team berth in the state finals will be a tall task with the likes of No. 4 West Lafayette, No. 9 Warsaw, No. 10 Valparaiso, No. 17 Munster, No. 20 Crown Point and No. 24 Lake Central looming in the field.
“I have us about 11th, but if we run like we did at the sectional, that could put us in the top eight,” Western coach Gary Jewell said. “Everyone has to run better and then we have to hope for a little luck. If someone has an off day we can move up a little more. In the semistate, almost anything can happen. Those teams in that area know what to expect, but for a team that’s never been there before, it can be a rather daunting task. We’ve been there before so we know what to expect.”
Individually, Eastern’s Lewis Duke and Western’s Matt Grider appear to have the best chances of moving on to state as individuals. Duke finished second in the regional at 16:22 but ran under 16 minutes on his way to a sectional title.