The result was as easy as 1-2-3 for the highly-regarded Warsaw boys cross country team.
The No. 6 Tigers trio of Jake Poyner, Ellis Coon and Robert Murphy crossed the finish line in first, second and third to pace their team to a dominating team victory at the Culver Academies Regional.
Warsaw advances on to the New Prairie Semistate next Saturday. The Tigers, who won with a team score of 21, will be joined by runner-up Rochester (68), Western (87), Culver Academies (128) and Carroll of Flora (146).
Warsaw coach Mills rested Poyner Tuesday as the Tigers cruised to the sectional championship at Culver Academies. After some discussion among his squad, Mills opted to turn his three stars, arguably the best 1-2-3 combination in the state, loose on Saturday.
It paid off in a big way for Warsaw, which has its sights set on a top five finish at the State Finals come Oct. 27 in Terre Haute.“We decided to put the hammer down and those three did that in fine fashion today,” said Mills. “I would have been surprised if they hadn’t finished 1-2-3. I figured it would go this way. When they are on, they are on and they were today.
“I’m thrilled to death with the way all our guys ran today. Daniel Messenger and Brysten James both ran great races. For a windy day, I’m very happy. Our top three showed today that they can hold their paces without being pushed.”
“The thing for us is to stay sharp. We still need to get our 4-5 guys up there a little further. But, we’ll practice hard this coming week and be ready to go at New Prairie.”
Senior Poyner won the race in a time of 15:54 after placing third in the regional at Elkhart a year ago. Junior Coon was second in 16:00 with senior Murphy third in 16:01.
Poyner, a Division I prospect, knows he’s going to miss being part of the “Three Amigos.”
“It was fun today,” said Poyner, who has been a great teammate and leader for the Tigers this season. “I looked back when Ellis and I were up there together and saw Robert catching us. I was like yeah this is sweet. That was cool to see.
“Sometimes it enters my mind that my high school career is almost over. I’ll be sad when it’s gone and I’ll miss running with these guys. Cross country really is such a great team sport. I’ll be excited for my future wherever that is, but I’ll definitely miss these guys.
“I felt all right today. The times were reflective of the conditions with the wind. We just have to stay positive and show up at semi state next week and do it again. We wanted to send a message today and get it in gear.”
Poyner was 42nd overall at the State Finals a year ago as the Tigers placed 15th.Warsaw, which was third at the Elkhart Regional last season, got strong efforts from sophomore Daniel Messenger and senior Brysten James on Saturday. Messenger finished in seventh place overall with a time of 16:49, while James was 12th in 16:57.
Junior Tyler Houvener was 15th overall for the Tigers in 17:09 and senior Nate Haller placed 21st in 17:35.
Senior Trenton Stackhouse finished 39th overall in a time of 18:09 to lead Triton to a ninth place finish in the final team standings.
The top five teams and the top 15 individuals advance to the New Prairie Semistate next Saturday. The boys race is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. ET.
CULVER ACADEMIES REGIONAL
BOYS TEAM SCORES
Warsaw 21, Rochester 68, Western 87, Culver Academies 128, Carroll (Flora) 146, Logansport 161, Kokomo 162, Northwestern 200, Triton 217, Plymouth 232.
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS
1. Jake Poyner (Warsaw) 15:54; 2. Ellis Coon (Warsaw) 16:00; 3. Robert Murphy (Warsaw) 16:01; 4. Leopoldo Burguete (Culver Academies) 16:20; 5. Matt Grider (Western) 16:31; 6. Robert Duke (Eastern) 16:40; 7. Daniel Messenger (Warsaw) 16:49; 8. Matthew Fahs-Brown (Man) 16:49; 9. Alex Gudeman (Rochester) 16:50; 10. Adam Schaaf (Eastern) 16:52; 11. Brian Bordner (CF) 16:55; 12. Brysten James (Warsaw) 16:57; 13. Jeremy Breedlove (Kokomo) 17:08; 14. Brandon Rife (Rochester) 17:08; 15. Tyler Houvener (Warsaw) 17:09.
1. Jake Poyner 15:54; 2. Ellis Coon 16:00; 3. Robert Murphy 16:01; 7. Daniel Messenger 16:49; 12. Brysten James 16:57; 15. Tyler Houvener 17:09; 21. Nate Haller 17:35.
39. Trenton Stackhouse 18:06; 42. Trenton Cooper 18:20; 55. Derek Johnston 18:55; 59. Bryce Wanemacher 19:02; 65. Landon Kaufman 19:21.