But when the opportunity presented itself for the Warsaw standout to claim his first-ever, first-place finish, Coon was up for the challenge.
A tremendous kick down the final stretch enabled Coon to surge past Brandon Arnold of West Noble just before the finish line to win the boys race at Miller Field.
The host Tigers, with a handful of finishers in the top nine, dominated the team competition. No. 6 Warsaw won with a score of 27, while West Noble placed second with a 72 in the 10-team field.
Coon, a junior, didn’t let anything stand in his way Tuesday, even a tangle with a thorny bush somewhere in the woods on the course that left him bleeding from one of his arms.
No problem for Coon, who ran about two miles of a race at the Huntington North Invitational on Aug. 18 in just one shoe after taking the other one off due to a blister.“This means a lot to me,” said Coon, who was a track standout for the Tigers in the spring. “It shows everybody that sees us out running on the roads all over town that we’re doing something and all that pays off.
“I’m happy with this because I’m proving to myself. I know I’m a good track athlete. I was hoping to be in the top 5 to 10 today. I’m not the fastest guy, but I have solid finishing speed. I just really wanted it at the end. I was happy I got it.”
The Tigers, who placed 15th at the State Finals in 2011, dominated despite running its big three of Coon, Robert Murphy and Jacob Poyner at a slower pace the first two miles.
Senior Murphy was third overall in a time of 16:42, while senior Poyner was eighth in 16:58. Junior Ismael Calderon was sixth overall in the race for the Tigers in 16:54 and senior Brysten James was ninth in 16:59. Completing the top seven for the hosts were junior Tyler Houvener in 13th (17:23) and sophomore Daniel Messenger in 16th (17:49).
“Ellis is just the most competitive guy,” said Warsaw coach Jim Mills. “He has a fire lit underneath him. I held my three guys (Coon, Murphy and Poyner) back today and let them go at two miles. Ellis was like when can we take off?
“We know what our top three can do. They are all completely different, but all three are fast in different ways. It’s a nice luxury to have to be able to do some strategic running today with the team and still win like we did.
“We need to get our 4-7 guys up closer to our top three. That’s our concern right now. But we have such a good and deep team this year. It’s so much fun. These guys have earned this.”Warsaw will compete versus Marion Saturday at Indiana Wesleyan University at 10 a.m.
Team Scores: Warsaw 27, West Noble 72, Northfield 77, Huntington North 89, NorthWood 137, Fairfield 157, Columbia City 212, Wabash 242, Peru 247, Tippecanoe Valley 282.
Top 15 Individuals: Ellis Coon (Warsaw) 16:38, Brandon Arnold (West Noble) 16:39, Robert Murphy (Warsaw) 16:42, Caleb Augustus (Northfield) 16:42, Devin Tracy (Northfield) 16:45, Ismael Calderon (Warsaw) 16:54, Evan Harney (Columbia City) 16:56, Jacob Poyner (Warsaw) 16:58, Brysten James (Warsaw) 16:59, Aaron Mast (West Noble) 17:08, Jonathan Weimer (West Noble) 17:09, Charlie Mettler (Huntington North) 17:11, Tyler Houvener (Warsaw) 17:23, Matt DeWitt (Huntington North) 17:39, Nate Miller (Fairfield) 17:43.
Warsaw Individuals: Nate Haller 17th (17:53), Cam Hoskins 18th (17:54), Brandon Lee 19th (17:55), Nick Adams 21st (17:55), Dominic Kurosky 24th (18:09), Owen Glogovsky 33rd (18:23), Jacob Adley 34th (18:24), Michael Compton 37th (18:27), Ryan Goon 46th (18:52), Nick Bergen 52nd (18:59), Eric Cusick 67th (19:27), Nathan Miller 72nd (19:35), Aaron Haller 91st (20:13), Jake Fayed 93rd (20:16), Ethan Cook 98th (20:24), Cameron Hershberger 101st (20:29), Zach Taylor 103rd (20:34), Eric Jagger 104th (20:35), Evan Hansen 105th (20:35), Nolan Haines 108th (20:43), Curtis Rider 111th (20:54), Nick Light 115th (21:02), Duncan McCammack 118th (21:11), Brenden BeMent 120th (21:13), Taylor Pletcher 121st (21:14), Brady Myers 124th (21:21), Javier Hernandez 126th (21:38), Cole Cummins 142nd (22:23), Connor Hershberger 146th (22:36), Andrew Thrasher 151st (22:50), Jesse Boal 155th (22:58), Andrew Wade 160th (23:24), Colton Andrews 166th (23:59), Jose Garcia 167th (24:00), Michael Blue 171st (24:44), Nicholas Hawn 172nd (24:45), George Chesterfield 178th (26:08), Blake Winters 180th (37:24).
Tippecanoe Valley Individuals: Brandon Maull 57th (19:07), Maverick Wagley 86th (20:02), Adam Solano 102nd (20:33), Tyler Ross 123rd (21:15), Cody Runyon 133rd (21:53), Noah Clampitt 136th (22:06), Mark Hicks 145th (22:33), Jesse Floor 148th (22:44), Devin Childers 149th (22:46), Gary Long 153rd (22:52), Luke Helton 163rd (23:40), Patrick Hughes 168th (24:25), Andy Herrera 175th (25:21), Kevin Good 181st (37:24).
Whitko Individuals: Lane Wolfe 78th (19:56), Jonathon Johnson 80th (19:58), Cole Eberly 159th (23:12).
Note: Placing is for entire field of runners, not where the individual was scored for their team.