Warsaw girls cross country will start us up in the countdown from five to one in our Top 10 teams list.
5. Ray Of Sunshine, Elements Of Surprise: The addition of Sarah Ray made a huge difference for the Warsaw girls cross country program in the fall. Ray, in her first season running cross country, combined with fellow senior and defending state champion Ashley Erba to give the Tigers some kind of 1-2 punch. The pair led coach Scott Erba’s program to a return trip to the State Finals for the first time in history. Erba, the lone returnee from the State lineup in 2011, captured runner-up individual honors this time around. Ray was 33rd overall as Warsaw placed 19th as a team at the Finals. The State lineup featured four seniors in Erba, Ray, Emily Stouder and Tayler Mylin, along with junior Madeline Hooks and freshmen Hannah Dawson and Emma Hayward. The Tigers also placed fifth at the semi state, second at the regional and won their second straight sectional title for the first time in program history.
4. Warsaw’s Big Three Wow’s ‘Em: The podium. That was the goal at the State Finals all season long for the Warsaw boys cross country team last fall. The terrific trio of Jake Poyner, Ellis Coon and Robert Murphy made sure the Tigers ended its season right there. The outstanding threesome all earned All-State honors as coach Jim Mills’ squad captured fourth place at State, the highest finish ever for the program. Senior Poyner placed fourth, junior Coon sixth and senior Murphy ninth among competitors from teams in the final race of the season contested in Terre Haute. Senior Brysten James and sophomore Daniel Messenger completed the team scoring at State, while sophomore Michael Compton and freshman Owen Glogovsky rounded out the lineup that day. The Tigers also won the NLC regular season and meet titles and then won sectional and regional championships before placing second at the semi state.
3. Oh, So Close To Eternal Glory: Just one deflection, just one misdirect. In the game of soccer, or specifically at the 2012 IHSAA Boys Soccer State Finals, one unattended touch from Columbus North and several near misses from Warsaw were the difference in a 1-0 loss in a hotly contested championship game. It was a bittersweet end to a multi-dimensional season for Warsaw, which were 19-3-2 on the pitch, but were forced to forfeit nine games due to a clerical error on an ineligible player, which cost Warsaw a piece of the Northern Lakes Conference title. Warsaw were led offensively by Nathan Kolbe, who notched 20 goals and 11 assists, and Diego Lopez, who added 16 goals and four helpers. In net, Michael Yantz was as good as they came, allowing just 11 goals the entire season and only giving up two goals once.
2. Business As Usual: Not every coach can get their program to sustain excellence. Jason Groves not only has Triton buying into his business model, but the Trojans are building a dynasty at the modest 1-A school. Groves and Triton reached the state finals for the fourth time in six years this past season, holding prolific offenses to absurdly low scoring outputs while showcasing its star, Clay Yeo, and his ferocious will to win. Yeo, just the second Indiana All-Star from Triton, scored over 26 points per game this season, including 24 ppg in the state tournament, as the Trojans fell just short to Borden in the state championship game. But the team defense, which gave up just 43 points per contest last season, suffocated what had been machines from Michigan City Marquette, Fort Wayne Canterbury and Lafayette Central Catholic in the tournament.
1. Warsaw Sold On It’s Girls Hoops: Nothing puts butts in the seats still in Tiger Town like successful basketball teams. That fact rang loud and true back in February when the Tiger Den was packed with 4,500 fans, most of them wearing orange, to support the Warsaw girls basketball team in a Class 4-A semi state clash. The hosts lost a heartbreaking 47-44 final to Fort Wayne South Side that afternoon, but proved that a quality product will still sell plenty of tickets in this still hoops-crazy town. Warsaw fans gobbled up all 1,200 of the school’s pre-sale tickets earlier that week in just a few hours. Coach Michelle Harter’s team had some season to remember as they went 24-2 and advanced to the semi-state round for the first time since 2004. The outstanding trio of seniors Lindsay Baker and Jennifer Walker-Crawford and junior Nikki Grose led the way on a team that seemed to have a new hero every game. Baker is headed on to play at Toledo, while the vastly underrated Walker-Crawford takes her smooth skill set to Kentucky Wesleyan. The starting lineup also featured senior Melanie Holladay and junior Eryn Leek with others like Sarah Ray and Brooklyn Harrison playing key roles as reserves. The fifth senior was crowd favorite Gabby Monroy, a standout on the Warsaw girls soccer team in the fall. Warsaw’s list of accomplishments included the first sectional title since 2004, followed by a regional championship over state powers Penn and Merrillville. The Tigers also went 6-1 to win the NLC for the first time since 2010 and won its own Lady Tiger Classic for the first time since the 2003-04 season. In the end, the group revived a huge amount of fan interest and enthusiasm at a school known for its history of hardwood success.