The WCHS elite runner was in another record-setting mood though.
Erba, one of eight seniors for the Tigers, broke her own course record once again at Miller Field on the Grace College campus in wins over Goshen and Plymouth.
Erba had plenty of help as No. 12 Warsaw placed five runners in the top six of the race in beating the Redskins 18-42 and the Pilgrims 15-49 in dominating fashion in the Northern Lakes Conference meet.
Erba, the defending state champion, broke her own course standard set two weeks ago by 38 seconds by cruising to another victory in 17:27. She has now set a new course record in every meet this season for the Tigers, who are now a perfect 4-0 in league competition.
Senior Sarah Ray was second overall in a personal best time of 19:08 for the host Tigers. Junior Madeline Hooks was third in 20:53, followed by freshmen teammates Hannah Dawson in fifth (21:03) and Emma Hayward in sixth (21:03), sophomore Hannah Thompson in eighth (21:43) and sophomore Tennie Worrell in 11th (22:00).
Erba was satisfied with her latest effort in preparation for the big New Prairie Invitational coming up on Saturday in New Carlisle.
“It was good for tonight,” said Erba of her new standard time of 17:27. “The records are fun by-products. I wanted a good time tonight and to get in a good training night and I did that. My mom asked me earlier today how I felt about my last home meet. I was not really sentimental at all about it.
“It’s nice to set the records, but the important thing is the way I’m approaching these meets with my goals at the end in the big meets. These are good meets to work on the little things and work on tactical things. Definitely, the season is going well so far. I’m getting good things out of each meet that will help me down the road.”
Erba set the state record in 2011 by winning her state championship in a time of 18:05. She then won another state title in June in the 3,200-meter run and added a national championship with a record-setting performance in the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in June.Ray, who dropped her time by 14 seconds Tuesday for a personal best performance, has stepped in and been a huge addition for the Tigers this fall in her first season running competitively. The standout basketball player has given coach Scott Erba’s team a much-needed strong No. 2 runner especially with the loss of Anna and Ellie Bearss from last year’s team that placed 11th at the State Finals. Anna and Ellie, who moved to the Rochester school district, placed 15th and 142nd overall at the State Finals in 2011 as the No. 2 and No. 6 runners for Warsaw.
“This has just been a great experience for me,” said Ray Tuesday night. “I’ve enjoyed it so much. More than I ever thought I would. It’s definitely great motivation to have Ashley on your team. She’s made my a better runner. To be No. 2 to her is cool. I feel great to be able to help the team because that was my main goal.”
Coach Scott Erba was pleased with the way his team followed the game plan Tuesday night.
“We had eight personal best times tonight,” noted coach Erba. “We ran okay Saturday (in winning the Fort Wayne Northrop Invitational). We had a little different strategy in that we wanted our goal to be focus on the middle miles. The girls were very strong in doing that and we had some good times.
“I know Ashley did want to set a record tonight that will stand for a while. She ran a very controlled race again on her part. This was another good training situation for her.
“Our motto this year is “Rise 2 The Challenge” and we’ve had girls believe and put in the work to do that. I just really like the whole attitude of this team. Ashley is our only four-year senior, but we have a nice mix of seniors who know how to lead.
“We’ve had girls like Tayler Mylin and Emily Stouder and Audra Harman do a nice job as seniors. And then Sarah Ray in her first year has been great and Cynthia Yoder (who came from Westview). I just really like this team.”
The Tigers also had Cynthia Yoder place 12th Tuesday in a time 22:04. She was followed by teammates Brooke Rhodes in 16th (22:24), Claire Kehler 17th (22:26), Emily Stouder 20th (22:33), Kara Millington 21st (22:48), Tayler Mylin 25th (23:16), Jackie Ferguson 29th (24:03), Audra Harman 32nd (24:33), Laine Hertel 33rd (24:46), Alexis Himes 35th (24:47), Alexis Winters 37th (25:25), Mariah Harter 39th (25:47), Courtney Etchison 40th (26:11), Emma Lehman 43rd (26:57), Ann Harvout 44th (27:00), Cindi Trier 45th (27:02), McKenzie Haines 49th (29:33) and Nicole Brackett 51st (30:15).
Before the meet, Warsaw honored its seniors in Ashley Erba, Sarah Ray, Cynthia Yoder, Emily Stouder, Tayler Mylin, Audra Harman, McKenzie Haines and Nicole Brackett.
The Tigers had eight personal best performances Tuesday. That list included Erba, Ray, Thompson, Yoder, Kehler, Lehman, Harvout and Trier.
Warsaw will compete in the New Prairie Invitational Saturday. The largest high school cross country meet in the country features over 1,000 runners in nine races. The varsity races begin at 11:30 a.m. with the reserve races at 1:20 p.m.
Warsaw then competes at NLC foe Wawasee Tuesday. The big NLC meet comes on Sept. 25 when the Tigers face No. 8 Northridge and NorthWood in the league finale at NorthWood. The NLC Meet is then set for Sept. 29.
“It’s going to be a phenomenal meet when we run Northridge, we know that,” said coach Erba. “It’s going to be close. We just have to be mentally ready when that one gets here.”