* Fort Wayne Carroll's girls scored their second team title on Saturday in as many seasons
- - -
State championship races can often be a chaotic experience, for high school coaches and athletes like.
They don't always go to plan. Sometimes you'll get surprise winners. And on the right day, you might witness a remarkable performance.
But championship races in high school also underscore just how difficult it is to build a winner on a statewide level. From the No. 1 to the No. 7 runners, winning a title requires a total team effort on race day.
And in few states does the significance of building a championship-caliber team mean as much as it does in Indiana: There's just one race at the end of the season, and it brings qualifiers big and small to the starting line for a chance to raise that end-of-season trophy.
We've decided to look at the girls race from this past weekend at the IHSAA State Cross Country Championships and break down just where the points came among the top 10 teams.
Fort Wayne Carroll's girls, who secured their second straight team title, now have five straight performances as either Indiana's state team champion or runner-up.
- - -
|Team||No. 1||No. 2||No. 3||No. 4||No. 5||No. 6||No. 7||Displacement|
|Fort Wayne Carroll||6||19||25||32||75||78||84||4-11-16-22-48|
- Here's why Fort Wayne Carroll's girls won: After displacement, the Chargers had four scorers in the top 25, and its fifth, while farther back, still finished in the top 50 -- the second best finish of any fifth-scorer in the top 10 of this team race.
- Which leads us to Carmel: If its fifth was faster than Fort Wayne Carroll's fifth, how did it lose? The team had just one runner inside the top 20 after displacement and its No. 2 and No. 3 runners were outside the top 25.
- Zionsville Community had two runners in the top 10, but it lacked depth beyond those two.
- Columbus North -- one of the pre-race favorites -- had the potential to score as high as second in this race, but its fifth runner was behind all but two teams' fifth runner in the top 10.
- Generally speaking, you need three runners inside the top 25 to compete with the best in the state: Two teams -- Brebeuf Jesuit and Homestead -- had two inside the top 25 but lacked depth beyond those two athletes.
- The importance of the No. 5. It goes without saying: The better your No. 5 is, the better chance your team has of winning a state title.
- - -
|Fort Wayne Carroll||18:53||1:16|
- Carmel had the best spread of any team on race day, but its average was third-best and, as we mentioned, there weren't enough scorers in the top 25.
- What happened to Brebeuf Jesuit? It had the fourth best average but ultimately finished sixth. As you can also see, the team also had the worst compression of any of the top 10 teams -- that led to the widest gap from its No. 1 to its No. 5: 89 places.