October 24th, 2012 – Boys State Meet Preview by Drake

Drake Sterling

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from covering Indiana cross country over the years, it’s that come the weekend of the State Meet, not even the most foregone conclusions are safe. Ultimately, the team everyone thought was a lock for a podium finish will fall to 10th. Meanwhile, the up and down team that nobody gives two looks at suddenly exceeds all expectations and pull off the upset top five finish.

I mean, did anyone think Lawrence North would finish third at State in 2010 after being 5th at the Carmel Semi-State just one week earlier? Who predicted LaPorte’s Mitch Hubner to finish second overall in 2011? Is it really fair that Bloomington South faded far off a possible podium finish two years in a row?

So as best we can, we will compile predictions based on what individuals and teams have done thus far. Some will look at Semi-State results and throw out a panicked accusation that Team “A” has peaked, while Team “B” is on the rise after shocking the region. Predictions are fun and that’s why everyone has them, but the State Meet is brutal on those who are not tough enough to handle the 5000 (5070? 5100? 5130?) meter course in Terre Haute with deceptive inclines and tough to nail tangents. We are lucky to have such a challenging course to host our Indiana State Meet. Laverne Gibson is one that rewards the true hardnosed, come-through-in-the-clutch, cross country runners that our state takes such pride in producing.

Good luck to all competing!



The Championship Contenders:

Connor Sorrells – Sr. – Barr Reeve – He’s considered by many the favorite to win individually. Sorrell’s seemingly has timed his best racing at the right time. He has looked basically unstoppable during the second half of this season.

Troy Reeder – Sr. – Hamilton Southeastern – Reeder is a decorated three-time All-State athlete. He has a lot of big race experience and always races well at the State Meet. Witnessing Reeder race the past few weeks, he has practiced making his move almost effortlessly between 2k and 3k and never looks back.

Jackson Bertoli – Jr. – Terre Haute South – Jackson has been consistent and strong all season long. The  “home course” advantage theory has been overused a lot recently concerning Bertoli, but it does play a big factor. He may not appear to be on the same level as the two mentioned about, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the top


Zachery Panning – Jr. – FW Concordia – It’s hard to believe in 2011, Ashley Erba WASN’T the undisputed favorite to win it all. Reasoning? She rarely raced Indianapolis and Southern Indiana competition and was relatively untalked about. Sorry to talk so much about Erba, but Panning is in the same boat.

Top Ten or Higher?

Jacob Poyner – Sr. – Warsaw – Poyner is an elite talent who raced tough with all his competitors this season. If he can stick up front through 3 miles, he has a great kick.

Alec Kostelnik – Sr. – Morgan Township – Will Peyton Manning ever play again? Occupy Wall Street has taken over! Will Apple be the same without genius, Steve Jobs? It’s 2011 all over again. Kostelnik laid just low enough for much of the season so that many have forgot about him. Don’t forget on Saturday…

Jonathan Harper – Sr. – Carroll (FW) – Let’s hope that the Charger Senior is at 100% come Saturday and if so, is a top 5 talent.

Karson Tays – Sr. – Columbus North – Since October 3rd, Tays has been rolling. He has only lost to Connor Sorrells en route to Conference Indiana, Sectional, and Regional individual championships. These Columbus North guys might be on to something…

Colin Rinne – Jr. – Westfield – The Shamrocks race smart and do what’s necessary to secure wins. Doing so may lead some to wonder about Rinne’s consistency when looking at his past 6 race finishes;  4th, 12th, 2nd, 16th, 2nd, 11th. I suppose even if the trend continues, were in for a good race come State.

Zack Snider – So. – Brebeuf – No Sophomore slump here. I remember asking Zack at All Star Camp this summer where he thought he should be ranked coming into the season. His response: “Maybe 25th?” He shouldn’t be anywhere near 25th on Saturday.

Ellis Coon –

Jr. – Warsaw – Can we expect Coon to step up like he did this past Spring at the State track meet? Let’s hope so. He races tough and won’t be outkicked at the end.

Ari Coulopoulos – Jr. – Valparaiso – Don’t look now but… Yeah, Ari’s back and ready to (rock and) roll. The question marks which plagued the Viking Junior have been answered. Ari also has the best hair of any All-State contender…much better than Connor Sorrells.

Matt Dorsey, Chandler Ball, Cole Hester – Sr. Lawrence Central – It’s too close to call between LC’s three headed monster, so let’s just assume they tie. Out of the three, it’s likely at least one will be in the top 10.

James Huffman – Jr. – North Central – Here’s the sleeper that no one is talking about. If you think former NC Panther Filimon Adhanom is the second coming of Nostradamus, he posted this earlier this week, “I guarantee James Huffman will be top 5 at state. He’s just a pure racer.”

All State and Beyond…

Jonathan Reynolds – Sr. – North Harrison – He was 56th in 2009, 39th in 2010, 36th in 2011. 2012 has to be the year for Reynolds to break his Laverne Gibson streak, right? If this were a wrestling match, he would be my first overall pick for sure.

Patrick O’Neil – So. – Cathedral – Probably the lead candidate for breakout runner of the year. From 16:53 as a frosh to serious All-State candidate and leading the Irish to their first State berth since 1960.

Kyle Eller – Sr. – Lowell – Beat the previously mentioned Coon and Coulopoulos and finished third at the New Prairie Semi-State. Eller usually shines the brightest at the State Meet.

Peyton Reed – Sr. – Valparaiso – Reed is a four year State qualifier. He is also a very good runner from what I’m told.

Kyle DuVall – Sr. – Westfield – If Ari has earned the rights to the best hair in the state, then DuVall takes the cake for the best mustache. In all seriousness, DuVall flashes elite talent at times, hopefully Saturday we will see one of those flashes.

Alex Hess – Sr. – Carroll (FW) – You can’t not mention the fifth best returner from last year’s State Meet. Three things you can be certain of in this world. 1) You will be born. 2) You will die. 3) The Hess family races well on Laverne Gibson.

Alex Zoumbaris – Sr. – Hamilton Southeastern – The Royals as a whole are on fire. This is a team that peaks at the right time…look no further than their 2011 2nd place finish for proof.

Damon Pruett – Sr. – Barr Reeve – He’s a racer who is coached well and trains with a potential State champion. That equals a formula for success.

Sammy Tebeje – Sr. – Pike – Nobody expected this guy to walk out of the Carmel Semi-State with a second place finish. If he perfects the same move he made late in the race last week again on Saturday, Tebeje is in for an All State award, likely

with room to spare.

Alex Sievern – Sr. – Evansville Memorial Reitz – Sievern has quietly put together an All-State resume…now it’s time to bring home the hardware.

Nicholas Lagemann – Sr. – Prairie Heights – Lagemann, when healthy, is one of the most talented athletes in the State. He’s having a dream season which could end with his first All State Honor. Lagemann is one of the biggest sleeper’s in this race. Also, later this Spring, he will qualify for the State Meet in track in pole vault…which is mind-boggling.

Michael Passmore – Sr. – Mooresville – Consider last weekend’s semi-state race a prelim. I think he knocked the rust off after regular season highlighted by dominating the equivalent of college football’s 1AA Florida Atlantic University on a weekly basis.

In Need a Breakthrough Performance:

Calvin Kraft – Jr. – Fishers – Consistency has put him on the brink of the All-State positions.

Bobby Browning (Jr.), Charlie Watson (Sr.), Ben Veatch (Fr.), and Corey Turner (Sr.) – Carmel – I would be surprised if at least one of them wasn’t able to rise to the occasion and finish in the top 25. They all have the talent.

Kaden Eaton – Sr. – Columbus North – His progression back from an early season injury has put him on track to finish in the 15 to 30 range.

Kyle Burks – Jr. – Bloomington South – Burks is talented beyond measure. He has proved to be a force in just his first season running cross country

Taylor Bisacchi – Sr. – Valparaiso – Has been consistent all season. A good race puts him close to contention.

Ryan Smith – Sr. – Central Noble – Bump up your miles, intensity, and desire. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for Smith. Smith could be the breakout individual you might suddenly find in the top 15 after 5000 meters…

Anthony Didion – Sr. – LaPorte – Has had a breakout season and really established himself as a force in the region this year. Can’t we all just agree that LaPorte is the distance running Mecca of Northwestern Indiana?

Luke Miller – Sr. – Bishop Dwenger – Maybe you haven’t even heard of him, but he owns Laverne Gibson. He was 59nd as a Sophomore and 42nd as a Junior.

Joel Hartman – Sr. – Elkhart Christian Academy –  Had a big 3rd place finish over names like Harper, Hess, Smith, and others last weekend at New Haven.

Spencer Clapp – Sr. – Cathedral – Has battled back from rumored anemia condition early in the season. He continues to improve each week and possesses elite talent.

Robert Murphy – Sr. – Warsaw – The relatively un-talked about third musketeer in the Tigers epic novel…or delicious chocolate and marshmallow candy bar if you prefer.

It’s a Long Shot But…

Jordan Huntoon – Sr. – Bloomington South
Nickolas Arndt – Sr. – New Prairie
Blake O’Dell – Jr. – Northridge
Levi Taylor – Sr. – Corydon Central
Ben Wollems – Sr. – Heritage Hills
Anthony Williams – So. – Bloomington South
Andy Carr – Jr. – Columbus North
Josh Neideck – Jr. – Eastbrook
Logan Hambrock – Sr. – Terre Haute South
Greg Murphy – Sr. – Hamilton Southeastern
Mark Beckmann – So. – Dekalb


  1. Connor Sorrells
  2. Troy Reeder
  3. Jackson Bertoli
  4. Zachery Panning
  5. Ellis Coon
  6. Jacob Poyner
  7. Alec Kostelnik
  8. Michael Passmore
  9. Jonathan Harper
  10. Karson Tays
  11. Matt Dorsey
  12. Zack Snider
  13. Ari Coulopoulos
  14. Kyle Eller
  15. Colin Rinne
  16. Cole Hester
  17. James Huffman
  18. Alex Hess
  19. Damon Pruett
  20. Patrick O’Neil
  21. Ryan Smith
  22. Jonathan Reynolds
  23. Sammy Tebeje
  24. Nicholas Lagemann
  25. Alex Sievern


Fighting for the Championship

Carmel Greyhounds – I keep waiting for Carmel to break out and be as dominant as everyone expected them to be pre-season. They are still strong contenders and have the most talented 1-7 (8,9,10,etc.)…in the State so don’t count them out yet.

Hamilton Southeastern Royals – The Royals put on a clinic at the Carmel Semi-State.Nobody expected them to dominate the competition like they did, taking three of the top five positions. At the very least, they have momentum on their side, which they are hoping they can ride and intimidate other teams in the process.

Valparaiso Vikings – The Vikings have quietly put together possibly the best 1-7 in the state. With Ari coming back to form, the Vikings have a shot at putting three in the top 25 and two to four more just outside.

Westfield Shamrocks – It’s so hard to believe that this is the first State berth for the Shamrocks. They have been turning heads all season, beating Hamilton Southeastern and Carmel on numerous occasions. How cool would it be to qualify for your fist state championship and win it in the same year?

Carroll (FW) Chargers – The Chargers are a big question mark to fans this season. Lead-runner Jonathan Harper looked poised for a top 5 finish early in the season, but suffered an injury late and is just now returning to form. Hess, meanwhile, hasn’t run quite as good as some expected but has the ability to step up big at the State Meet. They boast a similar 2-7 as Valparaiso which proves this will be a dog fight.

Columbus North Bulldogs – Don’t look now, but the Bulldogs are on fire as of late. Add on the fact that there isn’t a team in the state with more big stage experience, and we have a recipe for an upset. Don’t be surprised to see CN try to put a chokehold on the race early just as we are accustomed to seeing.


It’s a Long Shot…

Lawrence Central Bears – Early injuries to 800 meter standout, Adam Turner, really hurt the Bears chances at a State Championship. They have undoubtedly the best 1,2,3 combination in the state, but will it be enough?

Warsaw Tigers – Warsaw has an excellent top three runners but has struggled to take their 4 and 5 runners to the next level. From my experience, it’s so rare that anyone runs their best at State. In fact, it’s the teams that take care of what they need to while others choke under the pressure. See: Noblesville Millers 2010

Cathedral Irish – The young Irish team has improved in leaps and bounds from last season. They are a very mentally tough team as well, which helps in this caliber of a meet.

Podium Contendors:

Terre Haute South Braves – The Braves fought injury and illness to not only salvage their season, but also improve along the way. I wouldn’t count out the Braves for a podium spot. Most didn’t predict they would upset Bloomington South at Regional s and Semi-State either.

Just a Bit Behind:

Northridge Raiders – The key to the Raiders State Meet will be getting O’Dell and Bradberry as far up as possible and in All-State contention. Their strength lies between those two athletes.

Bloomington South Panthers – The Panthers team is split right down the middle. Their 1,2,3 has progressed faster than most expected, while their 4 and 5 have slightly underwhelmed. Look out for Brian Seymour, their transfer from Ohio who ran 16:18 as a Junior. If he or Martinez have big races, the Panthers are in podium contention.

Happy to Be There:

Bedford North Lawrence Stars – Bedford has a lot of the traits of a post-season spoiler. They are experienced and boast a good front pack.

FW Bishop Dwenger Saints – Based on history, Miller will lead the Saints with an outstanding effort. This will help as the Saints have a good pack to back him up.

West Lafayette Red Devils – The young West Lafayette team is just that, young. They have been slightly inconsistent at times, but when they race well, they have top 15 talent.

Hobart Brickies – In the past two seasons, the Brickies have truly earned the roll of “clutch”. Brent Dunn is a big race runner and their pack is very talented.

Homestead Spartans – Normally, it’s not ideal to have a freshman leading your team into a state championship, but this is Brayden Law, and he has plenty of big race experience.

Franklin Central Flashes – The Flashes stepped up big at Semi-State just to get the last qualifying spot. Hopefully, they don’t see a hangover effect on Saturday.

McCutcheon Mavericks – The Mavericks were unfortunate and unlucky with early season injury and illness. They never quite recovered to be the top 15 team many thought they might be, but they were able to earn their second straight trip to Terre Haute.

Goshen Redskins – The Redskins improved greatly from 2011 and earned their spot in the top 6 at the New Haven Semi-Stat early in the season.

Evansville North Huskies – Evansville North really came on strong at the end of the season, earning their spot at State.

Mishawaka Cavemen – The Cavemen strength is in their top runner, Jordan Annis.

Lowell Red Devils – No team has been scrutinized more than Lowell. Luckily, they were able to upset a lot of teams ahead of them and quiet the critics.

Bloomington North Cougars – With Carmin back, the Cougars have a formidable 1/2 punch.


1. Columbus North
2. Valparaiso
3. Carroll (FW)
4. Hamilton Southeastern
5. Lawrence Central
6. Carmel
7. Westfield
8. Warsaw
9. Terre Haute South
10. Cathedral
11. Bloomington South
12. Northridge
13. FW Bishop Dwenger
14. Hobart
15. Bedford North Lawrence
16. West Lafayette
17. Homestead
18. Franklin Central
19. Lowell
20. McCutcheon
21. Mishawaka
22. Goshen
23. Evansville North
24. Bloomington North

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