In the girls state finals race, defending state champ Anna Rohrer of Mishawaka, a junior, has been out most of the season with a stress fracture in her foot and will be unable to defend her title. Columbus North senior Mackenzie Caldwell is the top returner, finishing fourth last year. Carmel senior Kelcy Welch had the fastest semistate time at 17:35.7. Welch finished 17th last year.
On the boys’ side, Thor will be joined by three Howard County seniors in Eastern’s Lewis Duke, Western’s Matt Grider and Kokomo’s Jeremy Breedlove.
Duke won the Logansport Sectional, a race in which he broke the 16-minute barrier for the first time (15:58). He finished seventh in the semistate in 16:09. Those times would put him in a position to finish in the top 40 Saturday.
“I’m running up against the best runners in the state,” Duke said. “It’s going to be different because I probably won’t be up towards the [lead] pack. I’m excited because I get to run against the best. That’s all I could ask for. I’m just going to go out there and run my hardest. It’s going to be fun.”
Grider’s season has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Hampered by a foot injury, he’s improved little by little health-wise, allowing him to finish eighth in the semistate in 16:11, but has a season-best time of 15:57 at his home course, Oakbrook Valley Park.
”After the injury I wasn’t expecting to make it to state at all, so I’m pretty happy about that,” Grider said. “It’s also helped me calm down my nerves. If I expected to make it, I would expect more of myself at the meets. My foot is off and on, but I’m to the point where I can do races and speed workouts without it being too much of a big deal.”