It’s easy to see why he feels that way.
Star senior Poyner led the way Tuesday evening as the No. 5 Tigers celebrated Senior Night in style with dominating wins over Goshen and Plymouth.
Poyner claimed the individual title in impressive fashion in his final meet at Miller Field on the Grace College campus as the Tigers beat the Redskins 19-44 and the Pilgrims 15-50 in Northern Lakes Conference action.
Poyner toured the 5K course in 15:59, well ahead of runner-up Luke Kaufman of Goshen (16:27).
“Jake is one of a kind and we can’t replace him after this season,” said Mills of his senior ace. “He just does all the extra things. With him, it’s over and beyond that he runs fast. Hopefully, our younger kids are watching him and learning from him. Tonight, I think he sent a message with his race.”
Poyner, for his part, did not have it in his game plan Tuesday night to shoot for a victory.
“Honestly, I was just going to sit back tonight,” said Poyner after his impressive performance. “After that first mile, I just felt in the groove and when it’s like that you’re golden. I just went with it after that.
“We have a lot of races ahead of us and I didn’t want to expend too much tonight. To be ranked No. 5 is an honor and I think it ups the anty for us. We have a great team and the guys are coming around. It’s a long season.
“I know I’ve been blessed and I’m going to miss this when it’s over. I’m excited about running in college, but I’ll miss the guys and the coaches. This is fun and I appreciate all the time our coaches put into it. I just want to hopefully leave a legacy that the younger guys carry on in the future here.”
Poyner led the Tigers to a 15th place finish at the State Finals in 2011. The talented leader, who is not sure where he will run in college, was 42nd overall at State a year ago in a time of 16:30.
Warsaw dominated as its top seven runners placed in the top eight to remain undefeated in the NLC.Junior Ellis Coon was third overall in a time of 16:41 for the Tigers. Junior Ismael Calderon was fourth in 16:47, followed by senior Robert Murphy in fifth (16:52), junior Tyler Houvener in sixth (16:54), senior Brysten James in seventh (16:57) and sophomore Cam Hoskins in eighth (17:19).
“We had a lot of good times and personal bests tonight,” said coach Mills of his deep and talented team. “We had a Pow Wow at practice Monday. I thought the team was getting complacent and that our Big Three (Poyner, Coon and Murphy) were carrying them along.
“We came out tonight and I saw a lot of good efforts from the guys. That’s what I want to see. They dropped times tonight. I’m not worried at all because they are coming along and we had a good meet tonight and we still have plenty of big meets before the postseason.”
The Tigers honored a total of 17 seniors prior to their meet Tuesday night. The senior class includes Poyner, Murphy, James, Taylor Anderson, Nolan Haines, Aaron Haller, Duncan McCammack, Cameron Hershberger, Javier Hernandez, Taylor Pletcher, Chris Hollopeter, Luis Cervantes, Cole Cummins, Brenden BeMent, Andrew Thrasher, George Chesterfield and Blake Winters.
Warsaw, now 4-0 in the NLC, runs in the power-packed New Prairie Invitational Saturday in New Carlisle. The varsity races start at 11:30 a.m. with the reserve races at 1:20 p.m. The huge meet will feature over 1,000 runners in nine races. The Tigers then travel to Wawasee Tuesday for an NLC meet.Warsaw Individual Results
1st Jake Poyner 15:59; 3rd Ellis Coon 16:41; 4th Ismael Calderon 16:47; 5th Robert Murphy 16:52; 6th Tyler Houvener 16:54; 7th Brysten James 16:57; 8th Cam Hoskins 17:19; 12th Owen Glogovsky 17:29; 14th Daniel Messenger 17:34; 16th Nick Adams 17:47; 17th Michael Compton 17:54; 18th Nate Haller 17:57; 19th Brandon Lee 18:03; 21st Ryan Goon 18:03; 22nd Dominic Kurosky 18:10; 23rd Jacob Deboest 18:15; 25th Taylor Anderson 18:27; 28th Jacob Adley 18:38; 29th Matt Anthony 18:43; 32nd Nick Bergen 18:55; 33rd Nate Miller 19:12; 34th Nolan Haines 19:30; 35th Curtis Rider 19:31; 36th Aaron Haller 19:32; 37th Zach Taylor 19:34; 38th Duncan McCammack 19:37; 39th Eric Cusick 19:42; 40th Ethan Cook 19:49; 42nd Jake Fayed 19:55; 43rd Eric Jagger 20:05; 44th Cameron Hershberger 20:10; 49th Evan Hansen 20:20; 50th Javier Hernandez 20:24; 52nd Taylor Pletcher 20:39; 53rd Brady Myers 20:51; 55th Chris Hollopeter 20:57; 56th Luis Cervantes 20:59; 58th Nick Light 21:02; 61st Nate Mills 21:17; 63rd Cole Cummins 21:21; 64th Brenden Bement 21:23; 66th Connor Hershberger 21:27; 67th Andrew Thrasher 21:32; 69th Luis Cervantes 21:43; 72nd Andrew Wade 22:23; 73rd Jesse Boal 22:23; 75th Colton Andrews 22:38; 80th Michael Blue 23:29; 81st Moses Marandet 24:16; 83rd Nicolas Hawn 24:44; 86th George Chesterfield 26:40; 88th Blake Winters 27:25.