Step one of the state cross country journey is in the books and, for most, a learning curve was established. As the IHSAA cross country regionals loom this Saturday, second chances to improve and ultimately advance in the state tournament are on the course, and with luck, the course will be steady.
Looking to maintain its stronghold on the run to Terre Haute is Warsaw. A double winner in both boys and girls sectional races by more than comfortable numbers has put the Tiger programs back in the spotlight as the team to beat again this weekend at the Culver Academy Regional.
Warsaw was outstanding in the girls race, all seven of its runners in the top 15, and all five of its scorers in the top six. Led by sectional champion Allison Miller (19:33) and runner-up Mia Beckham (19:56), the Lady Tigers asserted itself as ready to go this postseason. Without needing to run Hannah Dawson and Anna Craig, two of Warsaw’s top runners given the race off, Warsaw should be even stronger when the two return to the lineup. Solid runs by Charlene Orr and Brooke Rhodes can only encourage another big weekend on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee.
The Tiger boys racers were also solid in its victory at Culver, putting all seven of its guys in the top 17, and Owen Glogovsky back in the conversation again with a runner-up finish (16:45), only trailing Caston’s Seth Cousins (16:31). Look for Warsaw to trim up some of its pack times, ranging from 17:37 (Lucas Howett) to 17:43 (Jacob DeBoest).
Triton made a step forward at Culver, placing fourth on the boys side and qualifying a pair of ladies. Derek Johnston led the boys team with a time of 17:51 and the pack of Landon Kaufman, Cordell Sherow and Bailey Watkins all crossed the finish line within eight seconds of one another. Lady Trojans Baylee McIntire and Makayla Musilli both qualified for regional with times within the top 10 non-advancing team times.
Tippecanoe Valley will also have a trio of runners working at Culver in Jesse Floor, Karly Kitch and Breelyn Conley, all advancing as individuals.
Up at Ox Bow Park in the Elkhart Central Regional, Wawasee will have both teams represented among the 10 teams running for each race.
The Warrior boys barely slipped into the regional after taking fifth in the standings, a scant four points better than Elkhart Central. Led by Zach Cockrill at 16:52, Wawasee pieced together enough despite its pack drifting away from each other. Troy Carolus, Jaxon Bame, Erik Diaz and Sam Griner were all in a group of 20 runners and 47 seconds apart.
The Lady Warriors had a better showing in the standings, taking third ahead of conference rival Concord and a few points short of Goshen. Everyone was chasing Northridge, winner of its 23rd sectional in the past 24 years. Leading Wawasee was Sarah Harden, running in her first-ever sectional as a senior, with a time of 20:51.
The Elkhart Central Regional will be loaded on both sides. With Elkhart County powers Northridge and Goshen, along with St. Joe County qualifiers South Bend Riley, Penn and Mishawaka running on the boys side, and Northridge, Goshen, Wawasee, Penn, Mishawaka and South Bend Adams all battling for five spots, the Ox Bow course will be buzzing. The Elkhart regional will also have a treat as former national champion Anna Rohrer of Mishawaka will be on the course racing to reclaim her state glory as a senior after missing her junior year to injury in defense of her sophomore state title in a memorable battle with Warsaw’s Ashley Erba.
Whitko’s Brigit Nemitz ran a 21:06 at the Fort Wayne Northrop Sectional to keep her season alive as an individual, moving this weekend to the West Noble Regional.