A warm and humid Saturday morning greeted the competitors upon arrival at Guerin Catholic High School, the site of the 2017 Circle City Conference Joe Harvey Cross Country Championships. The host Golden Eagles came into the event as the defending girls team champions, having bested Brebeuf Jesuit 22 to 54 the year before. Brebeuf’s boys held the other team title after 2016’s dominating performance where they beat closest competitor Guerin Catholic 19 to 57. Both defending individual champions graduated last year.
The event got underway around 8:45 with an opening prayer and the singing of the National Anthem. The boys were the first to compete. Teams from Roncalli, Bishop Chatard, and Heritage Christian (making their first appearance since joining the conference) joined the aforementioned squads at the start line. After receiving instructions from IHSAA legend Bill Farney, the gun was fired and they were off. By the halfway mark, it was readily apparent this would be a two horse race between Quinn Gallagher (GC) and Christian Stevens (BJ) as they were neck and neck as they approached the turnaround. Gallagher would be the first to appear inside the taped off finishing lane. He would hold on to both win the race and set a new event record of 16:23.44. Stevens would finish shortly thereafter (16:34:31), followed by Nick Perkins of Roncalli (16:56.25), Jack Kovach of Brebeuf Jesuit (17:00.88), Matthew Burton of Heritage Christian (17:10:19), Nathan Kolbus of Bishop Chatard (17:22.44), and Alex Pirkle of Brebeuf Jesuit (17:39.38). By virtue of finishing in the top seven, these young men all received All Conference honors. Once the team totals were tallied, it was learned Brebeuf Jesuit would hold on to their title. They finished with a total of 40 points. Guerin Catholic came in second with 62; Roncalli was third with 63; Bishop Chatard was fourth with 70; and Heritage Christian finished in fifth with 127.
The girls event immediately followed the boys. It was clear by the turn Brebeuf would be difficult to beat. A pack of Katherin Modrall, Zoe Simmons, and Katie O’Donnell, along with Guerin Catholic’s Paige Schmanske, was beginning to distance itself from the crowd. That trio of Braves would go on to finish one-two-three. Modrall finished with a conference record time of 18:57.35. Simmons (19:09.85) and O’Donnell (19:24.90) finished next. Schmanske (19:31.46) and her teammate, Ellie Schroeder (19:52.20), came in just behind them for fourth and fifth. Both of the remaining award winners would also come from Brebeuf Jesuit; Kate Ricks (19:56.07) and Mikayla Gallagher (20:20.81) rounded out the top seven. Again, these seven ladies were bestowed the honor of All Conference for finishing in the top seven. The Braves were crowned champions with a team score of 19. Guerin Catholic finished in second with 40 points; Bishop Chatard grabbed third with 91 points; Heritage Christian earned fourth with 120 points; and Roncalli came in fifth with 121 points.
The two championship races were followed by both boys and girls junior varsity races. These were won by Josh Ruppert and Rachel Moore of Brebeuf Jesuit. Roncalli brought home the boys JV team title, while Brebeuf Jesuit did the same for the girls.
The event was well attended with a crowd of a few hundred people cheering on their favorite athletes. Next year’s event will return to Brebeuf Jesuit.