WARSAW – The Warsaw girls’ cross country team boasts a much different look this fall.
It was the same old, same old, however for the Tigers Tuesday.
Warsaw used a strong team performance to lay claim to the championship of its own Tiger Classic for the third straight year.
The hosts, running on their new course at WCHS, placed three runners in the top 10 to post a team score of 45. Huntington North was second at 52.
The No. 25 Tigers, who were 19th at the State Finals in 2012, have a much different look now. Gone is superstar Ashley Erba, the state cross country champion in 2011 and runner-up in 2012. Also gone is standout Sarah Ray, who made some impact last fall in her only season running cross country.
This year it’s about the pack for coach Scott Erba’s team.
“This is a great way to start things off at our new course,” said Erba. “We talked about this last week and this week. Our real emphasis was to be ready today. It’s always great to win your own invite.
“It’s a totally different team for us this year. We have to pack it up and finish boom, boom, boom together. That’s how we’re going to win meets this year.”
“It’s fantastic for everyone to have the course here at the high school. We had a fantastic crowd tonight and it was great to have the football team come over and cheer us on. I want to thank coach Jensen for that.”
Freshman Allison Miller continued her impressive prep start. Miller was third overall in a time of 19:45. Senior Madeline Hooks was seventh in 20:26 and sophomore Hannah Dawson ninth in 20:31 for the champion Tigers.
“We were much faster today than Saturday (at the DeKalb Invite),” noted Erba. “That was more of a strategic race for us.
“Allison is challenging herself and she’s learning. I’m excited about what she can do. Madeline just continues to impress. She had a PR tonight and shows what you can do if you put in the work. It was wonderful to see Hannah out there. This was her first race as she’s had an injury.”
Sophomore Brooke Rhodes was 11th in a time of 20:49 for Warsaw. Senior Alethia Burritt was 15th in 21:09, junior Hannah Thompson 25th in 21:56 and sophomore Emma Hayward 26th in 21:58 to complete the top seven for the champions. Warsaw had 12 personal best efforts and eight season best performances Tuesday.
Northfield junior Jenna Halderman won the girls’ race in 18:52. Columbia City senior Samantha Roush was second in 19:05.
Whitko finished in seventh place among the nine girls’ teams with complete teams. Sophomore Brigit Nemitz was 13th overall in a time of 20:54 to lead the Wildcats.
Sophomore Brooklyn Conley placed 41st overall in a time of 22:42 to lead Tippecanoe Valley.
The Tigers also had Claire Kehler in 30th in a time of 22:13, followed by teammates Lauren Orr in 32nd (22:16), Charlene Orr in 33rd (22:24), Ellie Bearss in 37th (22:34), Kendra Paton in 44th (22:58), Mallory Hooks in 47th (23:10), Alexis Himes in 48th (23:11), Michaela Roark in 51st (23:31), Emma Lemon in 52nd (23:32), Liliana Hernandez in 62nd (24:27), Alexis Winters in 66th (24:38), Jessica Madden in 72nd (25:07), Daisie Poe in 82nd (26:12), Conner Gilbert in 84th (26:42), Emma Lehman in 98th (28:45), Victoria Rios-Rivas in 100th (29:07) and Shyanne McFadden in 108th (31:11).
Michelle Kelsey placed 46th overall in a time of 23:09 for Whitko. Hannah Yohe was 56th in a time of 24:07 for the Wildcats, followed by teammates Courtney Edwards 69th (24:46), Brianna Cumberland 71st (25:03), Abby Smith 89th (27:28) and Saman Deneve Shambarger 103rd (30:09).
Tippecanoe Valley had Sierra Rudd place 88th overall in a time of 27:21, with Jenna Schultz 90th in 27:33 and Tori Miller 104th in 30:27.
Warsaw opens Northern Lakes Conference action Tuesday by hosting Elkhart Memorial and Goshen.