The Warsaw cross country standout proved that again Tuesday night.
Poyner walked the walk one night after talking the talk to his teammates in pacing the No. 6 Tigers to a Northern Lakes Conference regular-season championship.
Senior Poyner led the way with another first-place performance as Warsaw defeated No. 13 Northridge 22-36 and host NorthWood 15-50 in the final league meet of the season. The two wins at Stauffer Park give the Tigers a perfect 7-0 NLC mark, while the Raiders finish at 6-1. The NLC Meet is set for Saturday at Ox Bow Park.
Warsaw’s “Three Amigos” of Poyner, senior Robert Murphy and junior Ellis Coon placed first, second and fourth in the three-team race Tuesday night. Poyner won in a course record time of 16:25, with Murphy runner-up at 16:29 and Coon at 16:40.
Poyner once again impressed his coach after having a few words for his teammates at practice Monday night.
“We had a big Pow Wow at practice Monday and Jake spoke up and let his teammates have it,” said Warsaw coach Jim Mills. “He’s the most humble guy, but he was second in command and let them know what we need to do. I was proud of him. It just shows his leadership and his teammates respect him.”
Mills said the goal was simple Tuesday night for his talented team, which has its eyes set on a top five finish at State next month after a 15th place finish in 2011.
“We hate these Tuesday meets,” said Mills first and foremost. “They’re an annoyance and we’ve been trying to get them changed for years. That being said, we told them when they got off the bus here tonight to let’s take care of business and go home.
“It was important for us to win the NLC title and to send a message and not give Northridge hope for the next time (at the NLC Meet on Saturday). Our main focus right now is to get our No. 5 runner where he needs to be. The thing is that we have the best 1-2-3 combination in the state in Jake, Robert and Ellis. This team is so good. But, we still need that fifth runner to get up there where we need him to be. But, we still have time to get that done.”Poyner, who placed second individually at the Culver Academies Invitational Saturday as Warsaw finished seventh among 41 teams in its division, sees the big picture and is one of those rare athletes at his age, or any for that matter, who gets it.
“We wanted to seal the deal tonight,” said Poyner. “No matter who they have, Northridge is always out to beat us. We came here expecting to win tonight and it’s nice to be done with Tuesday meets.
“We definitely have a championship team. But, it’s not only an honor, but a responsibility to be ranked so high in the state. We’re blessed to have the team we do and we need to take advantage of it. The tourney is our biggest priority. But we need to have 12 strong guys.”
Senior Brysten James continued his strong season with a seventh-place finish Tuesday in 17:12 for the Tigers. Daniel Messenger crossed the finish line in eighth place in 17:20 with Owen Glogovsky ninth in 17:24 and Michael Compton 11th in 17:30.
Northridge defeated NorthWood 15-46.
Warsaw will face Northridge again Saturday in the NLC Meet. Both the NLC and NIC boys and girls meets are Saturday at Ox Bow Park. The boys NLC race will be the final one of the day and is slated to begin at 11 a.m.