CULVER – No matter where the postseason venue takes you, it’s always good to return home with the hardware.
Just ask Warsaw girls’ cross country coach Scott Erba.
Erba’s squad packed it in again and in the process packed up another sectional championship trophy Tuesday night.
The No. 25 Tigers, with three runners placing in the top four, rolled to the tournament title at Culver Academies under wet and windy conditions.
Warsaw, which posted a team score of 30 to easily best runner-up Culver Academies 60, claims its’ third straight sectional championship.
The top five teams, Warsaw, Culver Academies, Plymouth, Rochester and Triton, earn a spot back at Culver Academies on Saturday for the regional.
The Tigers have done it with a complete team effort this fall, led by freshman Allison Miller. Warsaw lost several key runners from last year’s team that placed 19th at the State Finals, including former individual state cross country champion Ashley Erba.
“There’s a sense of pride in winning a sectional,” said coach Erba. “It’s a great thing to have won three in a row for the first time in school history and to begin a streak. We got over the hump three years ago with that first one and now we want to do the best we can regardless of where we are.
“Our plan today was to run strategically better than we did at the NLC Meet (where the Tigers were second to Northridge on Oct. 5). I really like how we finished today. It’s really good to have all seven of our girls finish in the top 15 or 16 today. It’s exciting with the depth we have that we can run different people, which we will do on Saturday at the regional and not lose much.”
Allison Miller continued her fabulous freshman campaign to lead the champion Tigers. Miller placed second overall in a time of 19:32.
Rochester senior Anna Bearss, who formerly ran for Warsaw, won the girls’ race in a top time of 18:56.
“Allison ran a very good, smooth, smart race,” Erba said. “In the next week and half, she will have to get used to pack running, especially at the semi state. She hasn’t had to do a lot of that this year so far.”
A pair of stellar sophomores in Brooke Rhodes and Hannah Dawson took third and fourth overall for Warsaw. Rhodes clocked in at 19:55 and Dawson at 20:04. Sophomore Emma Hayward ran a season best time of 20:44 to finish 11th overall. Senior Madeline Hooks completed the team scoring in 12th place in 20:56 for the Tigers.
“Emma Hayward ran a great race tonight,” remarked Erba.
Senior Aletheia Burritt was 15th in a time of 21:07 and sophomore Claire Kehler 16th in 21:09 for Warsaw.
Kehler recorded a personal-best performance Tuesday night. The trio of Dawson, Hayward and Burritt all had season-best efforts.
Warsaw has now won four sectional titles. The Tigers, before their run the last three seasons, had just a championship way back in 1985.
Triton edged past Manchester 170-173 in the final team standings to place fifth and earn the final regional qualifying spot.
The senior duo of Alexandra Kann and Taylor Hatfield led the way for the Trojans. Kann placed 36th overall in a time of 23:52, while Hatfield was 38th in 24:11.
Junior Courtney Burns was 39th for Triton in a time of 24:17. Senior Kayleigh Craig placed 40th in 24:27 with freshman Aimee Gladieux 41st in 24:46 to complete the team scoring for the Trojans. Freshman Michaela Best was 46th in a time of 24:59 for Triton.
Tippecanoe Valley posted a team score of 210 to finish in eighth place in the final team standings.
The Vikings will be represented at the regional Saturday by Brooklyn Conley. The freshman was one of the top 10 runners not on an advancing team, thus she earns a regional berth. Conley placed 31st in a time of 23:13 to lead her team.
Freshman Sierra Rudd was 42nd in a time of 24:48 for Valley. Freshman Jenna Schultz was 54th in 26:34, with sophomore Brynda Krueger 55th in 27:16 and freshman Tori Miller 58th in 30:11.
It was a big night for Hannah Remington of Lakeland Christian Academy. The LCA senior also earned a spot in the regional field Saturday. Remington placed 31st overall in a time of 23:13 for the Cougars.
The girls’ race at the Culver Academies Regional Saturday is slated to start at 11:10 a.m.