ELKHART – The Warrior boys’ cross country team have a flare for the dramatic.
After narrowly escaping the sectional last Tuesday, Wawasee had another close call on Saturday afternoon at Ox Bow Country Park. But close or not, the Warriors team score of 111 more than enough to get them to next week’s semi-state meet.
“We talked all week about leaving it all out there on the course and they did it,” said Wawasee head coach Doug Slabaugh. “Finishing was the difference today. After talking, we didn’t finish last week at sectionals and today they just left it all out there.”
One runner that certainly left it all out on the course was Zach Cockrill. The Warrior junior appeared to be falling back going into the last half of the race but when the lead group of runners rounded the final turn at Ox Bow Wawasee fans saw Cockrill right in the mix. Cockrill saved his best for last as he would pass Northridge’s Conner Sandt before the finish line to claim a sixth place finish. The junior clocked in at 16:36, a big improvement from his time of 17:16 at sectionals.
“He was a kid that really stood out for us today and he finished very strong, you love to see that from the upperclassmen” Slabaugh said of Cockrill.
But Cockrill was not the only Warrior runner to improve his time on Saturday morning. In fact, the top five runners for Wawasee would all see improved times from their Tuesday meet with the exception of Jacob Tucco who did not race in the sectional meet.
The first Warrior to finish on Saturday was Adam Doll. The senior improved on his sectional performance by shaving four seconds off of his time and finished in fifth place at 16:34.
Austin Yoder was third to cross for Wawasee with a time of 17:18. Tucco (17:36) and Bailey Yoder (17:38) would be the final two scores for the Warriors.
Wawasee’s score of 111 was just five behind Goshen’s 106 whom were well ahead of the Warriors in the sectional meet. The Warriors and Redskins were two of three Northern Lakes Conference teams to advance, the third being regional champion Northridge (56).
The next stop for the Warriors will be Fort Wayne for the New Haven semi-state meet held at the campus at IPFW. After becoming so accustomed to Ox Bow, Slabaugh is hoping his team will adjust to the new terrain that IPFW has to offer.
“Ox Bow has kind of become a home course for us after running the conference, sectional and now regional meets here,” Slabaugh stated. “We are going to go up to Fort Wayne later this week and get a feel for the course and see what challenges it will present for us. We have an exciting week ahead of us.”
The semi-state meet will begin at 1 p.m. this Saturday on the campus of IPFW.
Final Team Standings (Top five advance to semi-state.)
1. Northridge 56
2. Penn 96
3. South Bend Riley 97
4. Goshen 106
5. WAWASEE 111
6. John Glenn 168
7. South Bend Adams 170
8. NorthWood 177
9. Mishawaka 179
10. Elkhart Central 241