Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc.

9150 North Meridian Street, Box 40650, Indianapolis, Indiana 46240-0650

Phone: 317-846-6601    Fax: 317-575-4244    Website:

Blake Ress, Commissioner


November 1, 2008



Center Grove’s Sarah Higgens won the individual title and Carmel won the team title in the 28th annual IHSAA Girls Cross Country State Finals in Terre Haute on Saturday.


Higgens, a senior, pulled away from the front pack of runners over the final 1,000 meters to take top honors in a girls 5,000 meter state finals record time of 18:14.0. This was the second year the girls finals had been run at that distance after Alex Banfich of Culver Academies had run an 18:21.8 a year ago.


North Central senior Emily Mossler finished as the runner-up in 18:24.3; Carmel senior Kelly McCurdy was third at 18:25.5; Lake Central junior Dana Payonk was fourth in 18:31.1 and; Carmel freshman Renee Wellman rounded out the top five in 18:34.5.


Carmel tallied only 55 points with four of its five scoring runners finishing in the top 25. Finishing second to the Greyhounds was Lake Central with 160 points, which finished as the runner-up for the second year in a row. The 105- point differential was the fourth-largest gap between the top two teams in state finals history. Franklin Central was third with 167 points, Valparaiso was fourth with 172 and Westfield, the three-time defending champion, placed fifth with 177.


For Carmel, it was the school’s first state title in cross country since 2001 and 11th overall. In addition to McCurdy and Wellman, senior Kayla McCurdy placed 12th overall in 18:47.7; sophomore Alex Chitwood was 25th in 19:06.9 and freshman Sara Bennett was 39th in 19:25.4.


For Carmel coach Chuck Koeppen, it was his 11th title in girls cross country. He also guided the boys team to the crown this year for his 11th in that sport as well. He also has a boys track championship to his credit for a total of 23 championships – a state record across all sports. He has indicated this is his last year as coach.




Erica Ridderman was named the winner of the Mental Attitude Award following the race by members of the IHSAA Executive Committee.


The award is presented annually to a senior participant in the state finals who was nominated by her principal and coach and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.


Ridderman finished 18th overall in Saturday’s state finals in a time of 18:57.4. She has been an active member of both cross country and track teams all four years of high school and was named team captain in both sports.


Academically, she ranks first in her senior class of 480 students and has been a member of the National Honor Society in both her junior and senior years. In addition, she participates in her church youth group and praise band. She has taken three mission trips over the last three summers and has taken part in the school-sponsored “Blitz” which reaches out to the greater Warsaw community.


She is the daughter of Rich and Karen Ridderman of Warsaw.


Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the IHSAA’s corporate partner, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Warsaw High School in the name of Ridderman.




Visit our friends at Visual Sports Network, the IHSAA’s official photographer for all state championship events and one of the leading action photographers in the Midwest. VSN, which was on site Saturday, has captured hundreds of images from this year’s State Finals and will have them ready for viewing and purchase beginning Monday.