The 2019 New Prairie Cross Country invite was held today - bigger and better than ever. Originally started in 1964 as the New Carlisle Invitational, it officially became the New Prairie Invitational in 1968. More than 2500 high school runners came from all over Indiana to participate, and that number does not include the parents, coaches and spectators running to various spots to glimpse their favorite runners.
The New Prairie cross country course is considered one of the top ten cross country courses with Agony Hill a legendary feature. This year, the course was renamed to Snyder and Smith's New Prairie Cross Country Invitational course and a ceremony was held in honor of two of New Prairie's most dedicated coaches. Those in attendance who had been personally coached over the years by Snyder and Smith were asked to pose with them in front of the new official sign.
It was then time for the races and for the runners to take on Agony Hill.
"We practice for it, " said Griffith runner Sarah Thomas. "Agony Hill is hard but so is the Snake Pit because you zoom down it and you have to be careful of your footing."
The Illiana Christian School’s boys’ team won their class last year and their coach was feeling positive about their chances this year.
“We are feeling good," said Boys coach Kevin Vroegh. "We have a young team but they are improving very fast and we seven out of our eight are all returners."
Wheeler runner Hudson Hall, who is the 2018 Boys Class AA champion, was feeling good after recovering from an injury.
“I'm focused on continuing to get better for Semi-State," said Hall.
Harrison's Assistant Coach, George Benjamin Porter, had semi-state on his mind.
“We had some really good performances today. It's a good stepping stone for the end of the season,” said Porter. “Semi-state is held on this course so it's good for a tune-up and to say 'hey we've run this course before'."
Helping his team make semi-state and being in position to make it to state himself was motivating runner Stevie Franczek and he was hungry for that coveted personal record.
“I'm feeling good. I'm excited, " said Franczek. "I’m hoping for top 5.”
Franczek ran an impressive 17:04.7, earning him eighth overall for the Boys Class AA race. Jordan Garlinger of Bellmont and two of his teammates would take the top three spots in the Class AA race.
Kassidy Gregory, a former soccer player, was feeling good after taking first in the girl's Class A division with an official time of 20:12.6.
"I'm feeling energized," said Gregory. "Agony Hill did kill me a little bit, but I just kept going. I just think it's around the two-mile mark and I only have a mile left and I have to finish it from there."
She was followed by South Central's Adelaide Young Brust who finished second and Miriam Walker of Lafayette Central who finished third.
The top three Class A Girls’ teams were Brideman, Manchester, and Westview. Class A Boys’ teams top three were once again Illiana Christian followed by Westview and Bremen. Top three Class AA Girls’ teams to finish were Rochester, Morgan Township, and Culver Academies. Top three teams for the Boys’ Class AA were Bellmont, Plymouth, and Culver Academies.
To find out how your favorite runner or team placed, check out the school's website in the next day or two at https://npcougars.com/new-prairie-high-school-cross-country-invite-informationentry-porthole/