Eleven points. No, make that a measly 11 points.
That’s all that separated ninth-place Center Grove from fifth-place West Lafayette at the 2011 girls state cross-country finals, a discrepancy that for the Trojans grows more inspiring by the day.
While being considered the ninth-best team in Indiana by no means is anything to sneeze at, top five means medaling. A more rarefied air, if you will. And coach Wes Dodson’s team was almost there. Almost.
“Our goal this year is to make the top five. Anything beyond that would be gravy,” said Dodson, whose 13th Center Grove girls squad appears to have the talent required to experience a heaping helping of both awards podium and gravy.
“You look at who’s returning, and we have a great team,” he added. “But it’s about staying healthy, which in girls cross country is hard. There are a lot of injuries, but you have to be smart about it. You have to learn your kids and treat each one accordingly.”
Too many familiar faces and skill sets return for the coach not to know this team. The Trojans’ top four finishers at state last October return for their senior seasons: Tori Schoettmer (13th), Delainey Burnett (34th), Jordan Timmons (36th) and Anna Burton (64th).
It’s not a rah-rah quartet by any stretch of the imagination, Burnett probably being the most vocal of the bunch. However, they know what’s expected from their coach as well as each other.