CULVER – There was no question that the Warsaw boys cross country squad was going to win the Culver Academies Sectional championship Tuesday night.
The only question that coach Jim Mills’ talented team had to answer was by how much.
Warsaw, ranked No. 12 in the state, put an exclamation point on their response by dominating the field.
Senior star Ellis Coon captured the boys’ race as the Tigers had their five scoring runners place in the top six to reign supreme on a rainy and windy night along Lake Maxinkuckee.
Warsaw, which placed fourth at the State Finals in 2012, finished with a team total of 19 to walk away with a third straight sectional title. Culver Academies was a distant second at 80. Rochester was third with a team score of 90, followed by Triton (110) and Plymouth (128).
Those five teams will return to Culver Academies Saturday for the regional. Warsaw, which was moved to this sectional a year ago, is the defending regional champion.
Coon put in on cruise control to win in 16:28, 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Matthew Fahs-Brown of Manchester.
“It’s so new to me being up front and still weird,” admitted Coon, who was third on his own team a lot last season with Jake Poyner and Robert Murphy ahead of him. “But, it’s never old. I felt comfortable tonight. I just want to come out and do what the team needs. My goal is to get the team to State.
“Our guys were great tonight. We’re really blessed to have guys who want to continue the success of the program. We have supremely dedicated and talented kids on this team.”
Coon, who placed eighth overall at State last November in a time of 15:41, recently committed to Temple. He missed almost the entire track season in the Spring due to a foot injury, but has responded well this fall. He won the NLC race on Oct. 5 at Ox Bow Park in his last race before the sectional.
Sophomore Owen Glogovsky was third for the Tigers in a time of 16:48. He was followed by senior Tyler Houvener in fourth in 17:08, junior Nick Bergen in fifth in 17:21 and sophomore Jonathan Beres in sixth in 17:34 to complete the scoring.
Senior Ryan Goon was 18th overall in 18:14 and senior Aaron Haller 27th in 18:39 to finish out the Warsaw lineup.
The Tigers simply dominated the field without even pushing themselves to claim the fourth sectional crown in program history. Before this dominating three-year stretch, the Tigers’ only other sectional title came back in 1990.
“We wanted to go out and stay together for a while tonight,” said Warsaw coach Jim Mills. “We’re trying to rest and stay sharp too. We learned about four years ago that we need to keep the intensity up. It keeps the guys sharper.
“It’s taken 15 years of hard work by the kids and the coaching staff to get to this level. We want to do our best to keep at the top. Ellis is just doing what he needs to do right now. Once the competition level goes up, he will shift into another gear.”
Senior Bryce Wanemacher led the charge as Triton earned a regional berth. Wanemacher placed 15th overall in a time of 18:09 to lead the Trojans to their fourth place finish.
Junior Derek Johnston was 19th in a time of 18:15 for Triton. Junior Landon Kaufman placed 22nd in a time of 18:22, followed by freshman Cordell Sherow in 23rd in 18:24 and freshman Bailey Watkins in 31st in 18:53 to complete the team scoring for the Trojans. Senior Junki Park was 61st in 21:57 for Triton.
There was good news for the Tippecanoe Valley squad, despite placing sixth to just miss a regional qualifying spot.
The trio of Brandon Maull, Jesse Floor and Tom Solano from the Vikings will run at the regional Saturday.
This year, the top 10 individuals at the sectional not on advancing teams move on to the regional.
Senior Maull was 11th overall in a time of 17:49 to lead the Vikings. Sophomore Floor was 26th in 18:27 and freshman Solano placed 39th in 19:49.
Seniors Noah Clampitt and Mark Hicks placed 41st and 51st in times of 20:00 and 20:50 respectively for Valley. Sophomore Tyler Ross was 52nd in 20:57 and freshman Jared Mikel 58th in 21:29.
Sophomore Alex Plastow represented Lakeland Christian Academy. Plastow was 56th in a time of 21:20.
The boys’ regional race back at Culver Academies on Saturday is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.