They peaked at the right time, and their performances proved it.
That’s a successful season by any measure – and Cathedral High School girls cross-country coach Mark Doctor said that was the case for a young, ascending Irish team in 2017.
“I couldn’t ask for any more from this crew,” Doctor said.
Irish ’17 girls cross country featured five underclassmen – including standout sophomore Gillian Cridge – among the top seven runners, and had a strong postseason that nearly featured a team semistate appearance.
The Irish not only had strong finishes as a team during the regular season, they also won a sixth consecutive city title. They then finished second in the Brebeuf Sectional before a strong sixth-place finish in the Noblesville Regional.
Cridge advanced to the state meet as an individual – and Cridge, sophomore Gracie Carr and senior Sofia Alatorre advanced to the semistate meet as individuals.
Cridge finished 79th at the Indiana High School Athletic Association state meet in Terre Haute on October 28, finishing with a time of 19:18.4.
Cridge finished 21st at the semistate in 18:44.5, advancing to the state meet because she was among the top 10 individual finishers at the semistate. Carr finished 30th at the semistate in 18:56.7 and Alatorre finished 50th in 19:20.6.
“It was a pretty good season considering we were really young this year,” Doctor said. “We had two seniors in the Top 7, so hopefully we can build on what we did this year.”
The Irish’s Top 7 runners included not only Cridge and Carr, but sophomore Audrey McKinney (a former soccer player who joined cross country this season), freshman Ellie Thor and freshman Megan Kaster.
“There’s a lot of upside with this group, I think,” Doctor said. “With girls, their sophomore season is sometimes where they slump. A few of them had some rough patches, particularly early in the season, but then everything seemed to come together toward the end.
“This crew is just going to get stronger moving forward.”
Erin Arney and Alatorre were the lone seniors in ’17.
“They’ve been the core there for a long time,” Doctor said. “They’re going to be missed with leadership and stability they showed.”
Cridge finished 10th at the October 14 Noblesville Regional with a time of 18:47.26, with Carr finishing 20th in 19:06.24, Alatorre finishing 27th in 19:25.61, McKinney finishing 39th in 19:52.73, Arney finishing 42nd in 20:01.76, Thor finishing 58th in 20:35.13 and Kaster finishing 60th in 20:37.84.
Cridge, Carr and Alatorre advanced to the semistate meet by finishing in the Top 10 among runners whose teams did not advance.
The Irish finished sixth as a team at the regional with 130 points. The top five teams advanced to semistate, with fifth-place Noblesville finishing with 117 points.
“Any other regional we’d have gotten out, and we probably would have won half the regionals in the state,” Doctor said. “It’s the luck of geography. We had three lifetime bests in the regional, and three of them ran season best. They put it out there all the time.
“They were disappointed, but I told them we couldn’t have asked for any more from them. They gave us everything they could. There’s no way we’re going to be disappointed in that.”
Cridge finished sixth at the October 7 Brebeuf Sectional with a time of 19:42.5, with McKinney finishing eighth in 19:58.7, Carr finishing 11th in 20:21.0, Alatorre finishing 12th in 20:2.7, Arney finishing 17th in 21:06.7 and Thor finishing 18th in 21:08.4.
The Irish finished second at the sectional with 54 points behind champion Brebeuf to advance to the regional.
Cridge (19:07.7) finished second at the City Meet, where the Irish won 27-46 ahead of runner-up Cardinal Ritter. Carr (19:33.4) finished third with McKinney (19:41.6) finishing fourth, Alatorre (20:21.1) seventh and Kaster (21.:26.2) finishing 11th.
Doctor called the city meet a “high point,” and said the same of a runner-up finish at the state preview meet in Terre Haute on September 2 – and a fifth-place finish at a strong Culver Invitational on September 23. The fifth-place finish at Culver came with Cridge not participating.
“That’s one of the top meets in the state,” Doctor said. “To finish that high, sitting some people … that was a really good sign there.”
Doctor said that was one of several such meets in a season that ended with him feeling very good about the future of the program – and he said Cridge’s state-meet appearance could be just the beginning for a young team with potential.
“One of the things we’re going to build on next year is it’s a lot better to build as a team than to have one person out there,” he said. “We’ve got some stuff to do, of course. They’re young. They need to keep working, but the potential is there and they’re willing to put in what they need.”