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By LARRY GOFFINET
LEOPOLD—Perry Central has won the Jasper boys cross country sectional a record seven consecutive years. Developing a strong fifth runner could help the Commodores extend that streak.
Two of their top three runners from the last two years, senior Bryce Lain and junior Aaron Pierrard, return.
Both have placed in the top five in the sectional the last two years and “in my opinion they should be one-two at the sectional” this year, said Perry Central Coach Jason Barnett.
They were running about even before Pierrard had to take seven days off from running recently after having gall-bladder surgery.
Senior Nathan Schwartz and junior Michael Schwartz are the team’s other returning lettermen.
“Neither’s ever been a top-five guy (on the team), but they’re working really hard and have put in a lot of miles this summer,” said Barnett, adding they are in a close race for the team’s No. 3 and 4 positions.
Lance Elmer had the inside track for the team’s fifth position, but “he’s had shin splints really bad,” said Barnett.
Bryce Ridener and Adam Trammell are other candidates for that spot.
Trammell is new to the team but ran track last spring. “He has a lot of potential and if he keeps working hard he could be up there (in the fifth or sixth spot),” said Barnett.
Less than 45 seconds difference between their first and fifth scorers helped the Commodores to some previous titles, but this year’s spread “I don’t think is under a minute,” said Barnett. “Maybe one to four it is.”
All seven Perry Central runners made All-PLAC by finishing in the top 10 in the conference race last year, and the team is favored to dominate the conference again.
The sectional is more iffy.
“We’re probably one of the favorites,” said Barnett. “Tell City’s looking pretty strong and Forest Park should be pretty strong. It’s going to come down to our fifth guy.”
Still he’s optimistic that the Commodores can qualify for the regional (they won it last year for the first time) and semistate.
As for qualifying for the state meet, “it’s too early to tell,” he said Monday. “This is definitely going to be a different type of Perry Central cross country year. You may see a lot more growth in certain individual runners during the season.”