It showed Saturday for the elite Warsaw Community High School cross country superstar.
Erba, one of the nation’s top runners, started her day with a walk in the park so to speak with another dominating performance to win the Northern Lakes Conference Meet.
Erba, the defending state champion, toured the course calmly and confidently at Ox Bow Park in a blistering 17:17. The time was the third fastest in state history, trailing only the state record Erba set last Saturday in winning at the Culver Academies Invitational in 17:13 and the 17:14 clocked in by Mishawaka sophomore Anna Rohrer Sept. 15 when she beat Erba to win the New Prairie Invitational. The loss to Rohrer, who ran in and won the separate NIC race Saturday at Ox Bow in a time of 17:38, was the first for Erba since her sophomore season.
Erba, following another amazing effort, hustled with her mother to head to the airport. She was slated to catch a flight to Washington, D.C. to take a college visit to Georgetown University this weekend. Erba is scheduled to visit the University of Washington next weekend. Georgetown is currently No. 4 in the NCAA Women’s Cross Country poll, while Washington is No. 1.
“It was a very good day,” said Erba in her normal, matter-of-fact tone as she briskly walked to her car. “This is fun to get to the real part of the season. I wanted to run a good, relaxed race today and I feel I did that.
“These meets still mean something and are important, but I’m also thinking about the long term and what’s ahead of me. It’s a different perspective. But, I’m always highly motivated to race. I have a very strong internal drive when it comes to that.”No one can doubt that about the WCHS senior star. Erba’s winning time Saturday was one minute and 42 seconds better than teammate and runner-up Sarah Ray (18:59). The meet and course record also gave Erba her third individual NLC championship (2009, 2011, 2012).
No. 9 Northridge used its depth to claim the team championship Saturday. The Raiders posted a team score of 35 to top the No. 15 Tigers, who scored 56. Northridge, which also beat Warsaw in NLC head-to-head action this past Tuesday, claims the overall team championship with the Tigers as runner-up.
Warsaw was 11th at the State Finals in 2011, led by Erba’s record-setting time of 18:05. Northridge placed 14th at State last season.
“Overall, our effort was good,” said Warsaw coach Scott Erba. “Northridge ran well, better than they did on Tuesday, and they earned it. They have a great program and I tip my hat to them. We just didn’t have that great team performance we would have needed to beat them today. But, I feel good where we’re at. Now, we have to get geared up for the sectional.”
Coach Erba had plenty to say after seeing his star daughter run another outstanding race.
“This is one stepping stone for her,” said coach Erba. “She ran to the plan today and this should be a good confidence builder for her to run 17:17 on a different course. The key for her is staying relaxed.”
Erba also weighed in on the fact that his daughter’s dedication and drive, coupled with an incredible training regiment, makes the races look so easy for her.
“The thing is that she does her homework (training) so she is ready for the exam (race),” Erba said. “That’s been the way for the last year and a half for Ashley. When she steps to the line, she knows now how it will go. She’s prepared to be in control of the race. This is part of her goal. But she has her sights set on where she wants to be long term.”
Northridge had four runners place in the top seven to top the Tigers, who went 1-2 with Erba and Ray. Senior Jennifer Schrock was fourth for the Raiders, with sophomore Nikki Willey fifth, senior Mandy Campbell sixth and junior Olivia Golden seventh.Wawasee took fifth place in the final team standings with a score of 128. Sophomore Breanna Robinson placed eighth in 19:52 to lead the Warriors. Robinson earned All-NLC honors for the Warriors. Courtney Linnemeier, who placed 19th overall, was an honorable mention selection at the all-conference team.
The trio of Erba, Ray and Hannah Dawson were All-NLC selections, while Emma Hayward was an honorable mention pick.
Tennie Worrell ran a personal best time of 21:23 to place 35th overall for the Tigers.
Warsaw also placed second to Northridge (18-46) in the JV race Saturday. Emily Stouder led the Tigers with a fourth place finish in a time of 21:13. Hannah Thompson placed sixth (21:24), Claire Kehler ninth (21:47) and Cynthia Yoder 10th (22:03). The times by Stouder, Thompson and Kehler were personal bests.
Teams now gear up for the state tournament series which begins with sectionals on Oct. 9.
Team Scores: Northridge 35, Warsaw 56, Elkhart Memorial 76, Goshen 116, Wawasee 128, Plymouth 136, Concord 159, NorthWood 222.
Final Overall NLC Standings: Northridge, Warsaw, Elkhart Memorial, Goshen, Wawasee, Plymouth, Concord, NorthWood.
Top 15 Finishers
1. Ashley Erba (Warsaw) 17:17; 2. Sarah Ray (Warsaw) 18:59; 3. Sierra Moore (Memorial) 19:10; 4. Jennifer Schrock (Northridge) 19:15; 5. Nikki Willey (Northridge) 19:40; 6. Mandy Campbell (Northridge) 19:44; 7. Olivia Golden (Northridge) 19:49; 8. Breanna Robinson (Wawasee) 19:52; 9. Adrienne Henke (Goshen) 19:53; 10. Hailey Moore (Memorial) 19:55; 11, Hannah Dawson (Warsaw) 20:01; 12. Megan Fisher (Plymouth) 20:07; 13. Madie Royce (Northridge) 20:09; 14. Brianna Eggleston (Northridge) 20;21; 15. Corinne Cominator (Northridge) 20:25.
1. Ashley Erba 17:17; 2. Sarah Ray 18:59; 11. Hannah Dawson 20:01; 17. Emma Hayward 20:33; 25. Madeline Hooks 20:46; 34. Brooke Rhodes 21:22; 35. Tennie Worrell 21:23.
8. Breanna Robinson 19:52; 19. Courtney Linnemeier 20:34; 21. Madison Miller 20:40; 30. Jen Slabaugh 21:10; 50. Morgan Eryman 23:02; 53. Megan Rhodes 23:47; 54. Becky Snavely 23:52.