FORT WAYNE – The finish line of the New Haven Cross Country Semi-state resembled a scene from a monster movie, the weary defeated, the exhausted unable to continue. As the members of the Wawasee girls cross country team filed in Saturday afternoon among the walking dead, the hugs of completion amidst the agony symbolized the run this overachieving team put together this season.
Without much hope to advance among a very strong field of teams, the solidarity of the Lady Warriors seemed gratified with its 16th place team standing. The 363 scored put Wawasee within three points of 13th place Concord, but nowhere near the 213 points of Huntington North’s sixth place total and the final ticket to the state finals.
With five freshmen and two juniors running for Wawasee, head coach Doug Slabaugh wasn’t disappointed in the least.
“This is a very talented field here,” Slabaugh said. “It was fun watching those top four girls duke it out. This was a huge learning experience for our girls team. It was a tall task for them and you could tell they were overmatched. I was just proud of them, they gave their best efforts.”
The top time for the Lady Warriors was Bre Robinson’s 20:09, a 47th place effort. Robinson got stuck in a third wave of packed runners and could never break through to the second wave, falling back in the final 1,000 meters as most of the contending teams were sending third and fourth runners across the finish line. Completing the Wawasee lot on Saturday were Courtney Linnemeier (20:52), Delaine Bame (20:58), Molly Swartz (21:30), Bridgette Yoder (21:50), Bailey Schroeder (22:20) and Elizabeth Zorn (23:07).
“It’s exciting group to have, they are very hard working,” Slabaugh said. “The girls have nothing to be ashamed of today. This team did very well and earned their place here. I’m excited to see what they can do next year with this experience.”
A video of the runners reaching the 1,000-meter mark can be seen here.
Penn’s Maddie Woods emerged from the pack of four runners to claim the individual title, pulling away in the final 500 meters to win at 18:10. Elkhart Memorial’s Sierra Moore ran with Woods and the leaders for the entire race, but wound up fourth at 18:29.
The Lady Kingsmen placed three runners in the top 13, but were not able to outpoint Fort Wayne Carroll, which defended its semi-state title with 69 points to the Kingsmen’s 73. Northridge will join Moore from the Northern Lakes Conference at state after taking fourth overall in the team standings, McKenzie Love leading the charge at 19:20.
The only drama in the girls ledger was the sixth place team spot, where Huntington North and Fremont both scored 213 points. Huntington’s Stephanie McElhaney would beat Fremont’s Katie Culler by nearly a minute as the tiebreaker. The race also featured a glitch, where a Homestead chip timer failed, forcing officials to have to rescore the meet. The 30-minute delay left several teams in the mood to celebrate despite the lag in announcement.
The top six teams and 10 individuals not on an advancing team will run at the IHSAA Cross Country State Finals next Saturday at the LaVern Gibson course in Terre Haute.
New Haven Girls Cross Country Semi-state, The Plex in Fort Wayne
1. Fort Wayne Carroll 69
2. Penn 73
3. Pendleton Heights 141
4. Northridge 164
5. Homestead 167
6. Huntington North 213* (sixth score 69)
7. Fremont 213* (sixth score 98)
8. Fort Wayne Concordia 222
9. Fort Wayne Dwenger 267
10. Mishawaka 321
11. Bellmont 326
12. Muncie Burris 336
13. Concord 362
14. Northfield 363* (sixth score 128)
15. Fort Wayne Canterbury 363* (sixth score 135)
16. Wawasee 365
17. Norwell 372
18. Mount Vernon (Fortville) 393
19. Yorktown 455
20. Jay County 457