Stage is Set for a Big Cross Country State Finals
The Circle City Conference will be well represented at the Cross Country State Championships on Saturday at LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. The Brebeuf Girls will be attempting to finish a perfect season with a team title. Defending conference champions Quinn Gallagher (Guerin Catholic) and Katherine Modrall (Brebeuf Jesuit) will be looking to reach the podium. Others will be aiming to do the same or finish with All-State honors. The weather forecast is calling for cool temperatures with partial cloud cover – all in all, a great day for the biggest race of the year.
Modrall will be leading the Braves as they attempt to make history. The former soccer player stated, “This season completely exceeded my prior expectations. My goals at the beginning of the season were to be a contributing part of Brebeuf’s team, and I wanted our team to make it to State.” She can check both of those off of her list. She was not only a contributing member, but consistently the fastest runner on her squad, bringing home Conference, County, and All-Catholic individual championships. Her team did not simply advance from Semi-state, but continued their unbeaten streak in doing so. As for Saturday, “My goal for my team is to have a podium finish, and compete to potentially win the state title! As an individual, I am hoping for a top 10 finish and potentially even try to place in the top 5.”
Modrall will be joined by Mikayla Gallagher and Zoe Simmons (among others). Gallagher will be making her third appearance at State in four years. Sophomore Simmons will be making her first trip to Terre Haute. They are both really proud of what their team has accomplished and cherish the bonds they have created with their teammates
“Highlights from this season have been the team chemistry and the top 4 runners being sub 19, which is something only a big school like Carmel, Carroll, or Zionsville can come up with,” noted Simmons. “This team is like none other I have ever seen in that everyone aims to support one another and everyone competes not just for themselves but the other girls on the team.”
“I think having such a talented team has been incredible. We have really grown together not just as teammates but as friends. I think these friendships have been just as special, if not more than all of our wins this season,” Makayla shared. After running at State my freshman year, I remember thinking how amazing it would be to never have to go back to State alone. This being my senior year, it’s been truly amazing to fulfill a goal I’ve had all throughout high school and compete in the State Championship with my best friends.”
Both Simmons and Gallagher listed their goals as earning All-State honors and for the team to finish on the podium.
The conference is also sending four individual runners for the Boys race. Quinn Gallagher will be joined by Nick Perkins (Roncalli), Christian Stevens (Brebeuf) and Jack Kovach (Brebeuf).
When asked what it meant to him to make it back to State, Quinn said, “It means a lot. I am just thankful that I have another chance to prove to myself this year that I can run with those guys and compete to the best of my ability. I also want to set an example for the younger guys on the team, to show them what State is like so that they can go there next year already knowing what it looks like instead of going into it blind.”
Gallagher’s goal last year was to make All-State. Unfortunately, he missed it by one place (finishing 26th). What is his goal for this race? “Honestly, I just want to cross that finish line knowing I gave everything I had the whole time to set myself up for the most possible success.” Race results from earlier in the season would suggest if he achieves this goal, he will find himself in a very good place when the awards are dispersed.
Stevens is hoping for a better experience this year than last. “I got spiked 1k in and lost my shoe. I ended up finishing in 65th overall,” Stevens recalled. While that was a disappointing day, all signs point to this year’s race being better. “The season had a slow start for me. I wasn’t running as fast as I wanted to, but since Marion County, my season has been going really well.” Christian finished 3rd at Marion County, 5th at the Brebeuf Sectional, 12th at the Noblesville Regional, and 18th at the Shelbyville Semi-State (rebounding after being in 77th at the 1k mark). “Hopefully I can run a smart race and crack the top 25. If not, I just hope I am able to run my best and go out with a great last cross country race.”
One of the two goals Kovach (or “Kubo” as his teammates call him) had set for himself was to make it to State. Last year, he ran 9th for the team and narrowly missed the cut to advance out of the Sectional. Now that he has made it, the next goal is to bank experience. “This Saturday, I don’t have too many expectations for myself. I just want to go out there and get a feel for the race for years to come. I’m still going to race hard and perform to the best of my ability, but a big part of this for me is just getting a feel for the race for years to come.”
Perkins is also making his State debut. Roncalli’s first ever Sectional and Regional Champion finished 28th in last year’s Semi-State, failing to qualify. This year he surprised even himself by making it. “I see state this year as just a bonus. I didn’t think I’d make it, so I’m just going to try to see if I can inch near a PR.” He then added, “I’m excited to go to State because I may get noticed by a college coach, which in turn would boost my chances of being able to run collegiately.”
Running so many races together over the course of this season and last has brought this group of young men closer together. “My first memory of Quinn is my sophomore year in the first race of the season, the Harvey Invitational, he out kicked me…but besides that Quinn is a great guy. When he was a freshman and I was a sophomore, I can remember him coming up to me at both Regionals and Semi-State mid-race and saying, ‘Come on Christian let’s work together.’ Now he is one of the top guys in the state, which he is well deserving of,” explained Stevens.
For his part, Quinn added, “I am very excited for the other runners, especially Christian Stevens. He and I met my freshman year, because we always saw each other at some point in our races. We have been good friends ever since. I like how he and I both have a lot of fun on and off the course, occasionally messing around on the awards stand with the other runners. This shows that we both love the experience of running and the friendships made through it more than just excelling in the sport. I am also excited to see how the Brebeuf Girls, Jack Kovach, and Nick Perkins will do. I feel like something special is going to happen with how good the Brebeuf Girls have been running this year and can’t wait.”
“Nick Perkins is a great runner who I strove to stay with this season. From early on, I knew he was around my same ability and ran generally consistent and smart races. We’ve been in many of the same races this season, but I’ve only managed to beat him at All-Catholic. What I remember most from that race was the pack of me, Perkins, and (Nathan) Kolbus (Bishop Chatard) all pushing each other and finishing up in a sprint to the finish. That was one of the most fun races of the season,” reminisced Kovach.
They will all get the chance to race together one last time on the biggest stage this Saturday. Undoubtedly, they will represent the Circle City Conference well.
P.S. Mikayla Gallagher wanted to add, “I would love to thank our coaches! They have been integral to our success!”
P.S.S. Jack Kovach wanted to offer, “The only other thing I’d like to add is a piece of advice for younger runners. I’m a firm believer of speaking things into existence. You can only become as great as how great you believe you can be. So set your goals high and just go out there day in and day out and work for it.”