By Jake Thompson
TERRE HAUTE — Plainfield’s Samantha Woodford finished 23rd at the 32nd Annual girls’ cross country state finals last Saturday held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute. Woodford crossed the finish line in 18:52 and made the all-state team by placing in the Top 25, making her the third girl’s runner in Plainfield history to accomplish that feat.
“It feels good,” Woodford said smiling. “I still have two more years to improve and can’t wait. I started out the way I wanted to. I like the course and it is very hilly and I am good at that.
“It’s a lot bigger than all of the meet’s I have been to. There are a lot of fans out here that like running and I guess it makes me feel like I’m not the only one. I look forward to next year.”
Plainfield coach Wes Woodson put Woodford’s achievement into perspective after her race.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for a girl at any school,” Woodson said. “If you can run top 25 here, you’re running at an elite level. It’s difficult to run at that level with this kind of pressure.”
According to Woodson, Woodford has gotten physically stronger throughout the season and has been a joy to coach.
“She put it together, stayed cool and moved up when it got pretty hot there,” he said. “She picked up 10-15 spots there in the middle of a course that will take it out of you.”
Woodford, a sophomore, has two more years to improve and Woodson believes as long as she keeps training hard, the sky’s the limit.
Woodford stated she would like to attend Butler on a running scholarship if possible and go into elementary education so she can teach and coach cross country and track.
Avon upped its 13th place finish last season by two places at the state finals this past weekend, finishing 11th. However, it was not what the Orioles were expecting heading into the race.
Courtney Kerr (19:21) finished 32nd to lead the Orioles, Megan Price, (19:48, 51st), Malyka Abramson (20:11, 77th), Kelsie Mothersead (20:17, 86th), and Lauren Heeger (20:20,91st) made up the rest of the Orioles’ scoring. Hannah Jennings (21:03, 126th) and Avery Lane (21:24, 141st) rounded out Avon’s state finals squad.
“Courtney has been a pretty consistent competitor and steadily improved all season long,” Avon coach Brad Rosebrock said. “She has been a front-runner all year.”
Kerr was happy with her performance and took in the entirety of the finals.
“It’s a great experience,” she said. “It’s great to get big meet experience and it’s just a really fun atmosphere with all of the people cheering.”
After winning sectional, regional, and semistate competitions, expectations for Avon sophomore Malyka Abramson were sky high. But an injury suffered at the Carmel semistate adversely affected her chances and she wound up finishing 103rd after a top five finish was feasibly within her grasp.
This was not the first time the injury bug had hit Abramson as she was also hurt at last season’s state finals. In fact, Abramson, like many cross country runners, has fought through injuries each season.
“I feel bad for the team, especially for Malyka,” Avon coach Brad Rosebrock said of Avon’s finish. “Two years in a row the state meet has not been what she had hoped it would be for her.”
Abramson’s injury felt better throughout the week and she was optimistic going into the race, but rolled her ankle on the injured foot in the first mile and fell behind at that point.
Abramson also expressed her chagrin at the situation, but was quick to realize she still has two years left to achieve her goals.
“It is very disappointing,” Abramson said. “Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a season where I haven’t been injured at some point. On the bright side, I still have two more year’s to race.”
Avon loses senior varsity contributors Price, Mikala Hillis, and Victoria Collins along with the rest of a class that have been solid leaders throughout their tenure as Orioles.
“Megan is sixth all-time on the Avon cross country list and is a hard worker,” Rosebrock said. “Victoria is kind of the heart and soul of our team even though she was unable to run because of injury. Hannah is a first-year runner who has really been an asset. We will miss those three girls along with all of our other seniors who contributed to the team all year long.”