By Jake Thompson
Hendricks County Flyer
TERRE HAUTE — Avon’s girls cross country team continued its three-year trend to set school records based on its state finals performances with the latest coming at the state finals held at the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute on Saturday.
Improving six spots from last year, Avon finished with a coveted podium spot, taking fifth.
“It’s a school and county best showing,” Avon coach Brad Rosebrock said. “I wanted them to get on the podium as a testament to all the hard work they put in this season.”
Avon’s one-two punch of Taylor Nicholson and Malyka Abramson both finished with all-state performances, taking fifth and 12th, respectively.
The pair broke to the front of the pack early on and then Nicholson said she did a double take as Abramson went down beside her as they headed into one of the first turns on the course.
Abramson recovered, but had to expend a lot of energy as she edged into third near the end of the race but just couldn’t hold on.
“I was in great position and had my best start ever here… then there was a lot of jostling and I was tripped up from behind and fell flat on the ground,” Abramson said. “I was at the back of the pack and tried to force myself back in it so I could place well for my team.
“I’m lucky enough to have Taylor who was able to pick up the slack.”
Nicholson broke her own personal best time and Avon freshman record by nearly 10 seconds. At the runners’ recovery area, Nicholson was still trying to process what she’d just accomplished.
“I was so excited and I saw the finish line and it was right there just waiting for me and I just gave it my all,” Nicholson said. “I just still can’t believe it. I didn’t think about it and just ran.”
While Avon’s two top runners certainly helped their score, it was the depth of the rest of the squad that made the fifth-place finish possible.
Kelsie Mothersead (64th), Lauren Heeger (65th), and Kate Bernicke (75th) made up the rest of Avon’s scoring with Fiona Kelly (141st) and Alissa Lustgarten (151st) also placing for the Orioles.
With only Kelly graduating from the varsity lineup, Avon returns the bulk of its roster for next season and Rosebrock said the Orioles’ future looks bright.
“I’m looking for us to get back to this spot because by achieving this we will be able to set our goals higher,” he said. “It won’t be making it to state, or making it to the podium (like the previous two seasons). It will be a top three finish or higher. We want to make our goals realistic, but challenging.”
Plainfield’s Samantha Woodford, who finished 23rd at last season’s state finals, placed 38th as the only other county girl runner.
Avon’s Presley Martin was the only county boy participating in the state finals, taking 79th.