TERRE HAUTE – Ashley Erba poured her heart and soul into trying to repeat as cross country state champion.
When it was over Saturday, the tears poured from the Warsaw senior star.
Erba ended a stellar senior season with a runner-up finish at the 32nd annual Girls Cross Country State Finals.
Anna Rohrer, a Mishawaka sophomore, shattered Erba’s dream of back-to-back state titles on a sunny and breezy day.
Rohrer, who missed most of last season due to an injured foot, covered the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country course in a state finals record time of 17:13 to claim the individual title. Rohrer used a strong kick to pull away from Erba, who was second in 17:29.
No. 1 Carmel won the girls’ team title for the second straight year with a score of 66. No. 2 West Lafayette was a distant second with a 147. No. 16 Warsaw finished in 19th place in the 24-team field with a 420. Ninth-ranked Northridge was eighth and No. 17 Penn captured 18th place.
An emotional Erba, whose lone loss the last two seasons prior to Saturday was to Rohrer at the New Prairie Invitational in September, did not want to talk after the meet.
Erba had set the state record last Saturday with a time of 17:06.9 in winning the New Prairie Semistate. But, Rohrer proved then she would be a worthy adversary at State by going 17:03.96 some 90 minutes later to win her own semi state race at IPFW.
Erba had set the state meet record in 2011 by winning in 18:05.
The news was not all bad for Erba, who earlier this week committed to run at Providence College. She earned the Mental Attitude Award during the post race ceremony.
“Anytime you’ve invested a lot of yourself into something, it’s frustrating and upsetting when the outcome is not what you wanted,” said Warsaw coach Scott Erba, who is also Ashley’s father. “You have to look at the bigger picture that she was about 35 seconds faster today than last year when she won.
“This stings for her. But, it also puts into perspective just how special it is to win one state championship. No one can ever take that away from Ashley. In the grand scheme of things, though this is not that big a deal.
“Give Anna credit. She ran a great race and made phenomenal improvement this year. This was not about Ashley losing a race today.”
Erba becomes the second female cross country runner from WCHS to win the Mental Attitude Award. Erica Ridderman won the prestigious honor in 2008.
“As a parent, this is a great thing,” said coach Erba of the award. “It’s really exciting and it’s not like this is a consolation prize. It showcases who Ashley is as a person.”
Senior Sarah Ray, in her first year competing in cross country, placed 33rd overall in the field of 195 runners in a time of 19:05 Saturday.
Erba was the lone runner for the Tigers on Saturday who competed at the State Finals a year ago when they placed 11th. This was the first time in program history that the squad had made back-to-back trips to State.
“This was a good experience for our girls,” said coach Erba, who had three underclassmen in his lineup of seven runners Saturday. “It’s something we can use to continue to build on. We need to keep working on being our strongest team at the end of the season and this will only help us as the program goes forward.”
Freshmen Hannah Dawson (20:51) and Emma Hayward (21:24), junior Madeline Hooks (21:25) and seniors Emily Stouder (21:59) and Tayler Mylin (22:09) completed the Warsaw lineup Saturday.
Senior Jennifer Schrock led Northridge, clocking in at 19:01. Sophomore Madison Woods paced Penn as she finished in 18:48.
TEAM SCORES: Carmel 66, West Lafayette 147, Columbus North 158, Franklin Central 160, Hamilton Southeastern 173, FW Carroll 174, Eastern (Greentown) 206, Northridge 228, Fishers 300, Westfield 320, Avon 337, Terre Haute North 359, Bloomington South 388, FW Concordia 390, Valparaiso 405, Chesterton 407, Homestead 408, Penn 413, Warsaw 420, Huntington North 422, Portage 455, Terre Haute South 542, Bloomington North 639, Evansville Reitz Memorial 691.
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS: 1. Anna Rohrer (Mishawaka) 17:13; 2. Ashley Erba (Warsaw) 17:29; 3. Bobbie Burgess (West Lafayette) 17:51; 4. Mackenzie Caldwell (Columbus North) 17:55; 5. Bethany Neeley (Eastern-Greentown) 18:04; 6. Anna Aldrich (Fremont) 18:11; 7. Sarah Billingsley (Oldenburg Academy) 18:21; 8. Kendra Foley (Noblesville) 18:25; 9. Abigail Hostetler (Fremont) 18:29; 10. Rachel Nichwitz (Hamilton Southeastern) 18:29; 11. Amanda Farrough (South Bend Clay) 18:30; 12. Gina Genco (Carmel) 18:31; 13. Rachael Sollman (Columbus North) 18:31; 14. Jessica King (Hamilton Southeastern) 18:35; 15. Emma MacAnally (Indianapolis Cathedral) 18:35.
2. Ashley Erba 17:29; 19. Sarah Ray 19:05; 114. Hannah Dawson 20:51; 142. Emma Hayward 21:24; 144. Madeline Hooks 21:25; 158. Emily Stouder 21:59; 284. Tayler Mylin 22:09.
18. Jennifer Schrock 19:01; 22. Olivia Golden 19:09; 47. Corinne Cominator 19:46; 70. Mandy Campbell 20:08; 71. Madie Royce 20:08; 102. Morgan Blyly 20:35; 106. Nikki Willey 20:37.
12. Madison Woods 18:48; 17. Lauren Pottschmidt 19:01; 119. Allyssa Marlow 20:57; 125. Victoria Ziege 21:03; 140. Tiffany Fuller 21:23; 153. Frankie Spring 21:47; 159. Kelcie Bailey 22:01.