Franklin boys, Center Grove girls race to county titles

The Franklin boys and Center Grove girls cross-country teams raced to championships on a chilly, wet Saturday morning at the Johnson County Meet at Franklin Community High School.

In the girls race, Center Grove took seven of the nine top places. The Trojans’ Valerie Clark was the overall winner with a time of 19:42, followed by her teammate, Taylor Hickey.

Only Franklin’s Zosia Piotrowski in third and Whiteland’s Kaley Brewer in fourth managed to break the Center Grove stranglehold on the top spots. The Trojans had a team score of 21, followed by Franklin (55), Whiteland (60) and Edinburgh (115).

Greenwood and Indian Creek were incomplete.

Clark, who led from the beginning, said she was reasonably pleased with her time, although it was not a personal-best for her.

“It’s not a tough course, but it’s a mentally tough course because it’s two laps instead of one big lap, Clark said. “Our team ran great today, and as a team we want to win sectionals and win regionals.”

The Trojans will have the opportunity to meet that first team goal at Saturday’s sectional. Trojans’ coach Wes Dodson said this year’s group has shown a strong devotion to achieving success.

“This year has been one of my most fun groups to coach,” Dodson said. “When they come to practice they come to work. I compare practices from year to year, and this group seems to be running a little bit better.”

In the boys race, Greenwood’s Hunter Smith overcame a very fast start by Center Grove freshman J.T. Hodges, eventually passing him for the lead near the 3,500-meter mark to finish with a time of 16:20.

Hodges took second place, and Whiteland’s Jared Williams finished third.

Smith said he didn’t let Hodges’ big lead in the early going affect his approach.

“I thought he was rabbitting me because I’ve never raced against him before,” Smith said. “I just tried to do what I usually do, and as the race went on and he slowed down, I thought I could catch him.”

Franklin won the boys’ team race by packing together. Josh Campbell, Peter Hostetter and Andrew Bixler finished fourth through sixth for the Grizzly Cubs, and Franklin’s Chandler McGaha, Ross Ellis and Luke Tucker took 10th through 12th for a team score of 36.

Greenwood was second with 53, and Center Grove was third with 57. Whiteland was next with 99, followed by Indian Creek with 137. Edinburgh was incomplete.

Franklin coach Adam Schwartz said he likes the direction the Cubs are heading going into the sectional.

“We are right where I would predict us to be,” Schwartz said. “We are still doing hard workouts, so I wouldn’t expect us to be at our best yet. But hopefully, as we come down from high mileage, we can start to be a little better than what we are now.”