CULVER – Warsaw girls cross country coach Matt Campbell knew he had a very deep and talented team. But even he was a little surprised at just how dominant his team would be Saturday at the Culver Academy Cross Country Regional. Warsaw scored 30 points to clear a quality Manchester runner-up by over 70 points to secure its fourth straight regional crown.
Mia Beckham ran a great race, sticking with Miah Martin and Alexis Jackson of Lewis Cass along with Manchester powerhouse Rae Bedke as the quartet traded leads for the first 4,000 meters. Beckham, though, made the advancement needed to break away from both Cass runners and Bedke, leaving them behind as she sped to the final turn on the Academy lawn. Beckham motored in at 18:47 without any of the other three even in sight. Martin would take second at 19:02, Bedke third at 19:07 and Jackson fourth at 19:09.
From there, it was a lot of Warsaw tags. Allison Miller was fifth at 19:38, teammate Anna Craig was next at 19:47 and Charlene Orr following Craig at 20:04.
Warsaw’s fifth, Angie Sanchez-Vijil, was 13th overall at 20:27 to get Warsaw to the 30-point mark. Megan Metzger (16, 20:38) and Remi Beckham (29, 21:31) rounded out Warsaw’s efforts.
“We had a heckuva pack today, which helped,” Campbell said. “Anna came back after a rough couple of weeks. This was her first race back strong. Alli is getting there, trying to get back into the groove. We need Charlene to move up a little. Things looked OK today, but not next week at that semi-state. We need a five, bad. Without a five stepping up for us, we could miss out on state.”
Manchester, which had Tahnee Fuentes take 12th overall, scored 101 points to steer clear of Maconaquah (112), Western (117) and Cass (136) as each team had big frontline finishes but trouble with their respective depth.
Warsaw, which also had no trouble getting through the sectional tournament in similar fashion last week at Culver Academy, is one of the favorites at the New Prairie Semi-state next week. Campbell liked his pack production, which he said is what will make or break his team from running again in two weeks at the state finals.
“We’re tapering right now and getting miles in, nice and easy,” Campbell stated. “It’s just about keeping the girls healthy at this point and whatever happens on that day happens. I wish there was secret formula. It’s everybody, they have to show up. Every individual crossing the line is going to matter. They have to beat people to the line.”
Triton was in a unique situation, having not qualified its team from the sectional, but had all five of its top runners making it as individuals. None of the five advanced from the regional, but still had good showings according to assistant coach Bryce Wanemacher.
Leading Triton was Whytnie Miller and Briana Wilhite, who ran together for most of the race, and finished with matching 22:18 times, Miller given the line first to Wilhite for 45th and 46th place overall. Baylee McIntire, running in her second regional, timed at 22:28, with Michaela Best at 23:15 and Aimee Gladieux at 24:39. Triton’s individuals could not comprise a team score since the team technically didn’t qualify as one of the top five team scores from the sectional.
“I’m glad that we had so many kids get out of the sectional and run today,” Wanemacher said. “Whytnie is young and is going to learn as she gets older. The old saying that you don’t learn to run a cross country race until you’re a junior, that applies with her. What I saw from her today was some grit, some fight. Her and Bri both ran well, and when she got up past Bri, that was a nice marker for her heading into next year.”
The New Prairie Semi-state will feature teams and individuals from regionals at Culver Academy, New Prairie, Lafayette Harrison and Crown Point. Racing starts at 10 a.m.