Wiley, Niswander race at IHSAA Cross Country State Finals

Wiley, Niswander race at IHSAA Cross Country State Finals
Posted on 11/01/2021
Addy Wiley and Harrison Niswander represented Huntington North at the 2021 IHSAA Cross Country State Finals on Oct. 30 in Terre Haute, IndianaHuntington North High School seniors Addy Wiley and Harrison Niswander competed on the state’s biggest stage for high school cross country, running in the IHSAA Cross Country State Finals on Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana. Wiley recorded her third consecutive top-10 finish at the State Finals by placing seventh in the girls race, while Niswander placed 120th overall in his State Finals debut in the boys race.

No stranger to the IHSAA’s final cross country meet of each season, Wiley put her previous State Finals experience to good use, crafting a race strategy based on how the two prior State Finals races unfolded.

“I decided to follow basically what I did last year, especially since a lot of girls have ran really fast times this year—a lot of girls under 18—(so I) just wanted to go out very conservative and let that first fast mile in the rough course conditions kind of wear on everybody’s legs and then start picking people off as the race goes on.”

As Wiley anticipated, the girls race got out to a hot start, even faster than she expected. As such, Wiley found herself sitting in 27th place after the first kilometer and stayed consistent throughout the next two kilometers.

Once the race got past the halfway point, Wiley implemented her strategy, taking advantage of her speed to move up the field. By the time the race entered the final kilometer, Wiley had exploded all the way to seventh place, proving her learned strategy to be effective.

“I always say that the races that I lose, I learn something from, and I think that is very obvious from my sophomore year,” Wiley said. “I started in third, went back to 10th. Last year, I started in the 20s, worked up to sixth. And so, I just think the experience of understanding the course, understanding the girls you’re running with and how they start and finish a race just really benefits (you).”

Wiley’s placement held firm when she crossed the finish line, stopping the clock at 18:40.2, good for seventh place and her third cross country medalist and All-State outcome.

Wiley’s finish also earned her a spot on an all-star team of Indiana high school seniors who will represent the state at the Mid-East Cross Country Championships on Nov. 20 in Kettering, Ohio. The meet features the best 12 senior boys and girls runners from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and other area states. Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have competed in previous years. Joining Wiley as the headliners of Indiana’s girls squad is Lowell’s Karina James, who finished nearly 10 seconds ahead of Wiley in sixth place after winning the individual state championship in 2020.

Lily Cridge of Bishop Chatard won the individual state championship, blowing away the field by over 30 seconds with a winning time of 17:32.7. Nicki Southerland of Delta finished second in 18:03.6. Columbus North won the team state championship with a score of 79 points, besting Carmel’s 92.

The seventh-place outcome wrapped up Wiley’s Huntington North cross country career, finishing with three All-State recognitions after placing 10th in 2019, sixth in 2020 and seventh on Saturday. Wiley also claimed three individual sectional titles and three individual regional titles during her cross country career. Wiley’s personal record time of 17:53.4 stands atop Huntington North’s all-time girls 5k leaderboard.

“My high school cross country (experience) has been a lot different from everybody else’s being a soccer player and cross country runner in the fall,” Wiley said. “I’m just proud of myself for always being a top-10 finisher (and) believing in myself, and I’m excited because my team is really young. Even though I’m leaving, I think they’re going to do great things without me. It’s been a great ride.”

On the boys side, Niswander utilized a similar strategy as Wiley, opting to let others set a quick pace and then trying to move up the field as the race progressed. Niswander posted a time of 3:01.9 after the first kilometer, good for a spot in the low 100s. The pace largely stayed high during the whole race, keeping Niswander in a similar spot throughout the duration of the meet.

“I didn’t want to start out too hard,” Niswander said. “I was talking to coach and he said that once you hit that downhill, they’re going to turn it on, and I didn’t want to get too burnt for the last half of that race. I thought I executed that pretty well. We were going past the mile and I just didn’t feel as good as I wanted to. Then, the hills started coming. I thought I handled them pretty well, but definitely a little bit heavier of legs than I wanted.”

Niswander came in with a time of 17:13.8, good for 120th place in the final cross country race of his high school career. The time equated to a mile average time of 5:32.7.

Among Niswander’s other cross country career highlights was his individual sectional title earlier this season, taking the crown with a time of 16:36.2. Niswander posted a time of 16:27.3 at the New Haven Semi-State on Oct. 23, earning him the opportunity to compete on the state’s biggest stage, a goal he had set and worked toward for the entirety of his high school career.

“I’ve just been looking forward to this for the last three years, and finally at semi-state I was able to get one of those qualifying spots,” Niswander said. “I didn’t run as well as I wanted to today, but it was just a blast being here.”

Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff of Columbus North took home the individual state championship with a victorious time of 15:22.6, fending off defending state champion Izaiah Steury of Angola in a fiercely contested duel. Brebeuf Jesuit claimed the team state title with a score of 78 points, topping second-place Hamilton Southeastern by 39 points.

Both Niswander and Wiley were grateful for the encouragement and support they received from family, friends, teammates and the Huntington North and Huntington communities as a whole.

“I thank everyone that supported me,” Niswander said. “I got a lot of texts of just, ‘Congrats on making it and good luck.’ I thought it was very nice that everyone in the community was happy and celebrating it.”

The duo’s efforts at the State Finals officially brought Huntington North’s fall sports season to a close, as the attention now shifts to the winter sports slate. The Huntington North girls basketball team will tip off the winter sports schedule when they open their regular season on the road against Snider on Nov. 9.

Addy Wiley and Harrison Niswander represented Huntington North at the 2021 IHSAA Cross Country State Finals on Oct. 30 in Terre Haute, Indiana

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