A scary thought indeed for any runner the next two weeks who toes the starting line versus the Warsaw senior superstar.
The elite Erba ran like the wind on a very breezy day indeed in setting a new state record in dominating the field at the Culver Academies Regional.
Erba felt right at home on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee for the second time this season. Her time of 17:12.5 Saturday just nipped her previous state standard of 17:13.7 set in the Culver Academies Invitational on Sept. 22.
The No. 15 Tigers will take their entire team to the New Prairie Semistate next Saturday after posting a second-place finish. No. 6 Eastern (Greentown) won the girls regional title with a team score of 28. Warsaw, led by the trio of champion Erba, Sarah Ray and Hannah Dawson, was runner-up with a team total of 42.
The top five teams of Eastern, Warsaw, Rochester, Culver Academies and Plymouth, along with the top 15 individuals, advance to the New Prairie Semistate next Saturday.Erba added one more good memory of the course she calls her “home away from home” in her final race there.
“I definitely wanted to break the record and I just nipped it and that’s nice,” said Erba. “I like this course and have good memories of coming to camps here. I came to camp here before my junior year and that was really a pivotal time for me.
“I have good feelings I associate with running here. It’s a nice course and I’m very comfortable here. It’s my home away from home. I was just grateful it was not raining during the race. The wind was tough and definitely a challenge today.
“I feel I have a lot more still in me. My races so far have been very controlled. I feel like I have a sub 17:00 in me. I look forward to the rest of the season.”
Erba took a quick glance to her right as she hit the finish line.
“I was glancing at the clock because I knew it was real close to the record,” said Erba.
Warsaw got strong performances up and down its lineup just four days after dominating the sectional at Culver Academies.Senior Sarah Ray was third overall in a time of 19:03, while freshman Hannah Dawson took eighth place in 20:06. Freshman Emma Hayward placed 12th in 20:32 for the Tigers, followed by junior Madeline Hooks in 18th (20:54), senior Tayler Mylin in 26th (21:15) and senior Emily Stouder in 29th (21:26).
Warsaw coach Scott Erba’s talented team, especially daughter Ashley, kept his new stopwatch plenty busy during the 10-team girls race.
“Our girls did a great job competing today,” said coach Erba. “Their places were very good. They moved up well in the second part of the race. They improved their spots. Everyone had great improvement in the second half of the race. The wind was brutal on certain parts of the course today where it’s wide open.
“Our goal was top two and to see where we stacked up with Eastern. They have a very good team.”
Eastern placed its top five runners all in the top 10 to earn the regional championship. Seniors Bethany Neely and Brittany Neeley placed second and fourth to lead the champions. Runner-up Bethany Neeley was 1:25 behind Erba.
“Ashley’s time today was very encouraging with the conditions (wind),” said coach Erba. “The big focus for her today was the last 1.1 miles. The first reaction to her time is Wow. That’s a great thing to have at this point in the season. She likes this course a lot and it’s great to run that record time in her last race here.
“She’s doing phenomenal things, but I try to let her performances speak for themselves. She does train hard and when she steps to the starting line, she knows how prepared for is for each race. That gives her confidence. It’s a I can do this and I will do this. Not, I hope to do this. That does give you a great deal of confidence.
“She’s not maxed out yet. I know she still wants to go a lot faster than this 17:12.”Eastern repeated as the team champion Saturday. Warsaw, which was shifted to the sectional and regional at Culver Academies this year, won the team title in the Elkhart Sectional last year. Erba, for perspective, won that race at Ox Bow Park in a time of 18:10. She was 58 seconds faster on Saturday in windy conditions.
Erba has two more high school meets left as she tries to repeat as state champion on Oct. 27 in Terre Haute. The State Finals meet should include Mishawaka sophomore Anna Rohrer. Rohrer, who won the Elkhart Regional Saturday with a time of 17:24, is the lone runner to beat Erba the past two seasons, doing so in the New Prairie Invitational on Sept. 15 when she ran a 17:14, which at that time was the fourth fastest performance in the country this season. The two will not meet next Saturday as Erba competes in the semi state at New Prairie, while Rohrer will run at the New Haven Semistate.
“Yes and no,” responded Ashley Erba when asked if she thinks about her prep career ending soon. “I look at what is after this and I’ll be competing until December (in some national meet after the high school season ends).”
Triton placed 10th in the final team standings Saturday. Junior Alexandra Kann led the Trojans with a 34th place finish in a time of 21:44. Freshman Alexis Miller was 38th overall for Triton in a time of 21:57.
The New Prairie Semistate girls race will begin next Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
CULVER ACADEMIES REGIONAL
GIRLS TEAM SCORES
Eastern 28, Warsaw 42, Rochester 77, Culver Academies 124, Plymouth 151, Northwestern 151, Lewis Cass 156, Carroll (Flora) 226, Logansport 234, Triton 254.
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS
1. Ashley Erba (Warsaw) 17:12 (new course, regional and state record); 2. Bethany Neeley (Eastern) 18:37; 3. Sarah Ray (Warsaw) 19:03; 4. Brittany Neeley (Eastern) 19:18; 5. Carly Jones (Eastern) 19:30; 6. Anna Meyer (Rochester) 19:41; 7. Sarah Wagner (Eastern) 19:51; 8. Hannah Dawson (Warsaw) 20:06; 9. Samantha Ruppert (Rochester) 20:11; 10. Avery Ewing (Eastern) 20:17; 11. Anna Bearss (Rochester) 20:21; 12. Emma Hayward (Warsaw) 20:32; 13. Libby Read (Plymouth) 20:32; 14. Taryn Thor (Northwestern) 20:33; 15. Gabi Carney (Lewis Cass) 20:33.
1. Ashley Erba 17:12; 3. Sarah Ray 19:03; 8. Hannah Dawson 20:06; 12. Emma Hayward 20:32; 18. Madeline Hooks 20:54; 26. Tayler Mylin 21:15; 29. Emily Stouder 21:26.
34. Alexandra Kann 21:44; 38. Alexis Miller 21:57; 61. Taylor Hatfield 24:12; 64. Kayleigh Craig 24:18; 67. Autumn Kann 25:44; 69. Brooklyn Beatty 30:20.