2009-10 State Finals Recap

It was a day of firsts for the big winners in the girls cross country state finals as Columbus North won the team competition and Terre Haute North’s Tapring Goatee took the individual medal at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course on Saturday.

Columbus North, which finished third in last week’s semi-state, came away with the school’s first state championship in girls cross country with 96 points and matched their male schoolmates to sweep both genders. Columbus North became the eighth school to win both titles in the same year, one year after Carmel won both. The Bull Dogs finished 82 points better than second place Carmel (178), the fifth widest margin of victory in the 29 years of the girls finals. Franklin Central (183) placed third and Noblesville edged Carroll (Fort Wayne) (186 each) for fourth place on the tiebreaker.

The Bull Dogs were led by junior Jessica Richardson who finished ninth overall (19:48.0). She was joined by senior Siri Retrum in 16th (19:53.3), senior Virginia Steilberg in 31st (20:14.8), sophomore Erin Shuffett in 34th (20:23.4) and freshman Rachael Sollman in 41st (20:33.0).

Goatee, a freshman who missed part of the cross country season with injuries, led virtually from start to finish and became the first Terre Haute runner, regardless of school, to win the girls state meet. She covered the wet, 5,000-meter course in 19:07.9, nearly eight seconds ahead of second place Dana Payonk, a senior from Lake Central (19:15.8). Crown Point junior Laicee Pierce took third (19:33.2), Valparaiso sophomore Katelyn Devries was fourth (19:36.6) and Carmel sophomore Sarah Bennett ended fifth (19:37.1).

Lake Central senior Dana Payonk was named the winner of the 2009 Mental Attitude Award by members of the IHSAA Executive Committee following the event.

The award is presented annually to the senior who best demonstrates excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability in her high school career.

Payonk finished second in Saturday’s cross country state meet, her second top four finish in a row and she has been part of two Lake Central state runner-up teams (2007, 2008). As a member of the track and field team, she has qualified for the state meet each of her first three years.

Academically, she ranks fourth in her class of 700 students. She is undecided on her college choice but is considering studying software engineering.

She is the daughter of Jack and Kathy Payonk of St. John.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,000 scholarship to Lake Central High School in the name of Payonk.