The postseason begins Tuesday with IHSAA sectionals at Northrop, Bellmont and West Noble. And the young and inexperienced sixth-ranked Chargers are headed to Northrop, where there is a little added pressure. They just don't recognize it yet.
“How many sectionals have we won in a row,” Carroll senior Londyn Wise asked her teammates. She just received silence in return.
“I don't know," she said, finally mustering a response. "Around 12, I think."
And the regional title streak?
“Ten,” Wise inquiring again.
History tests were failed, as Wise and her teammates were wrong on both accounts.
Carroll's sectional streak is currently at 13 and its regional streak is a state-best 12 titles won. The Chargers have also won the last four New Haven Semistate titles. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, because it's clear that the Carroll runners are not.
“These girls really don't know because we haven't talked about it,” first-year Carroll coach Phil Yoder sdaid. “But I remember those girls who started the streak because they were running when I was running (for East Noble).
“I certainly don't want to hear from girls like Carolyn Magley and Mandy Knuckles if we don't extend it.”
Magley, Knuckles and a few other names from the Carroll Class of 2002 were rattled off with only blank stares coming from this year's seniors. History should be appreciated, but Wise and fellow senior Caitlyn Chastain know that it won't help once the gun goes off. And if the streak won't help the team, why should it hurt them?
“No, I'm not nervous,” Wise said about racing to extend the streak. “We've been working hard all year for the postseason and now it's here. That's what we talk about, running (well) and trying to get (personal bests).”
Although a senior, Wise will be running in her first postseason race. It's a testament to the depth Carroll has had in the past.
Last year's Carroll team had four seniors in the lineup and finished sixth at the IHSAA finals.
This year's team also has four seniors and two will not be in the lineup Tuesday. Chastain and Kate Morris will rotate in for Saturday's regional.
“We don't have (an individual) expected to win, but we do have a pack that is deep,” Chastain said.
She raced sectionals last year but sat out during the regional meet.
“We work together as a team,” she added. “Our girls need to stay together.”
The two other seniors, Coral Whaley and Kate Morris, also have some postseason experience, a strength Yoder will rely on.
“These girls have worked really hard and they've been focused on running well in the postseason,” Yoder said.
Carroll is the heavy favorite Tuesday, as the only other ranked team in the field is 15th-ranked Homestead.
Individually, the top competitors include Concordia Lutheran's Marina Konow, Leo's Lindsey Marriott, Homestead's Madison Distelrath and Columbia City's Samantha Roush.Defending sectional champion and last year's IHSAA state finals runner-up Carroll team leads the field in the boy meet, but despite their No. 10 ranking, the Chargers will face tough competition from No. 22 Bishop Dwenger and unranked Homestead.
At last week's Northeast Hoosier Conference meet, the Chargers beat the Spartans by only six points (36-42), and the Saints, running in the Summit Athletic Conference meet on the same course, ran virtually the same team time.
Individually, Concordia Lutheran's Zach Panning is a heavy favorite, but other top individuals in the race should be Homestead's Brayden Law, Bishop Dwenger's Greg Tippmann and Carroll's Cameron Clements.When: Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. (boys race first)
Sites/teams:Northrop: Carroll, Columbia City, Bishop Dwenger, Blackhawk Christian, Concordia Lutheran, North Side, Northrop, Snider, Garrett, Homestead, Leo, and Whitko; Bellmont: Adams Central, Bellmont, Bluffton, Bishop Luers, Canterbury, South Side, Wayne, Heritage, New Haven, Norwell, South Adams, and Woodlan; West Noble: Angola, Central Noble, Churubusco, DeKalb, East Noble, Eastside, Fremont, Hamilton, Lakeland, Prairie Heights, West Noble, and Westview.
Advancement: Northrop and West Noble teams feed into Saturday's West Noble Regional; Bellmont and Marion sectionals feed into the Marion Regional. The top five placing teams in the boy and girl meets along with the top 10 finishers not on an advancing team, will qualify for regionals.