Jarrell scores top-five roundup finish in home debut

·3 min read

Aug. 26—PENDLETON — Ava Jarrell spent her first two years of cross country turning heads and breaking records.

Now a freshman at Pendleton Heights, she is already continuing the former, and the latter may just be a matter of time.

At Wednesday's Arabian Roundup, Jarrell ran out front much of the race and finished in fifth place at her home debut, leading the Pendleton Heights girls to a second-place finish behind repeat champion Mount Vernon.

Wapahani won the boys competition handily with Monroe Central placing second. Pendleton Heights, led by Andrew Blake in 15th and Avry Carpenter in 20th, finished in sixth.

The top boys area runner was Frankton's Hunter Smith who finished seventh, a 12-position improvement from this race a year ago. Lapel's own Smith — sophomore Cameron — placed 10th just a week after posting his first victory at home.

But Jarrell, who loves creamy chicken flavored ramen noodles, was out early to set the pace in the girls race. At the 1K mark, she was in first and was still running third within sight of the leaders at the 3K mark. After a third-place run Saturday at Taylor University, she came down the John Rhoades cross country course in a solid fifth place for the Arabians.

Pushing the pace was the game plan for the freshman.

"I didn't do my best, but I did get my fastest mile," Jarrell said. "I think I went out too fast, but I'll learn from that and do better next time."

Jarrell owns both the Madison County and Pendleton middle school track records in the 800 and 1,600 with several of her runs smashing marks that had stood for nearly 40 years.

Her coach sees high potential and wants to see what game plan works best for Jarrell.

"We tried something different this race, and I'm sure we're going to be experimenting to find out what works best for her," PH coach Melissa Hagerman said. "We started her a little faster. If she's going to run at the top, she's got to be at the top."

For Smith of Frankton, his finish came about in quite the opposite fashion. After running well back in the pack over the first mile, his coach urged him to pick up the pace.

"I told him he was in 30th and it was time to go," Frankton coach Andre Lo said.

And that is what Smith did as he cracked the top 10 at the 3K mark and cruised home with a seventh-place finish against a talented field of runners.

"I'm happy, but I can't be satisfied," he said. "I've got to keep working."

He said he is planning to run stronger at the end of the season as opposed to early. He felt he peaked too soon during his freshman year, something he is hoping to reverse this season.

"I've worked on that this year. I wanted to get better as I went on," he said. "It's good to know that, early on, I'm sitting pretty high."

Additionally for the PH girls, Laney Ricker ran 12th, Abby Davidson 25th, Julieanne Spejewski was 26th and Olivia Welpott rounded out the team's scoring with a 30th-place run.

Lapel's girls were 11th out of the 13 teams and were led by Hannah Combs who came home in 42nd place, and a 44th-place run from Jewell Cline led Frankton — the 13th-place team.

The top area girls runner outside of Pendleton Heights was Elwood's Katelyn Foor, who placed 40th, while Anderson's Brooklyn Denney was 47th.

For the boys teams, in addition to Blake and Carpenter, Ian McLaughlin finished 34th for the Arabians, followed by 44th-place runner Jason Lyst and 66th-place Nick Bronnenberg.

After Smith for ninth-place Frankton, Kaleb Cage was 27th, while Connor King in 41st was best for 15th-place Anderson and Zach Hood led 16th-place Elwood with a 38th-place run.

Contact Rob Hunt at


or 765-640-4886.

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