ELKHART – The Elkhart Central Cross Country Regional saw both NorthWood and Wawasee girls teams bow out, while Wawasee’s boys carry on in the second step of the IHSAA state series continued Saturday morning at Ox Bow Park.
Wawasee’s boys team finished fourth to pull one of five automatic qualifier places for next week’s New Haven Semi-state. Wawasee finished in a jumble of four teams all within three points of one another, Wawasee landing in fourth with 133 and Goshen also scoring 133 to take the fifth spot. On the outside looking in were Elkhart Memorial with 135 points and South Bend Riley with 136 points.
Penn won the title with 45 points, well ahead of Northridge’s 110 and Concord’s 116 points.
Luke Griner led the Warriors with a time of 16:38 to land in 16th place overall. Spencer Hare gave Wawasee a second top-20 runner, going 16:50 to take 19th. Michael Hammer (34, 17:27), Jace Alexander (48, 17:41) and Braxton Alexander (49, 17:43) made up the scorers, the Alexander brothers both racing in ahead of Goshen’s Angel Arreola and Riley’s Michael Burns for valuable places.
“This was tight,” noted Wawasee head coach Chad Hoffert. “We needed positive contributions from all seven guys and today we got that. It was a total team effort.”
Winning the race Saturday was St. Joe’s Amani Morrell, who outran Goshen’s Feliz Perez Diener in a showdown of conference champions. Morrell, the Northern Indiana Conference winner, paced the field at 16:18 while Diener, who won the Northern Lakes Conference, came in at 16:22.
NorthWood’s three boys on the course were Tyler Evers in 38th, Garrett Myers in 58th and Austin Escamilla in 62nd, none of which qualified for semi-state.
The NorthWood girls had a heartbreaker, losing out on a regional spot by three points to Concord, 137-140.
Erica Stutsman did her part, landing in fifth overall at 19:26, moving up a couple spots from the sectional. Kate Jarvis also gave a semi-state worthy performance, landing 30th at 20:52 but good enough for the final individual qualifier for New Haven.
Whitney Wolfe (39, 21:18), Jen Martinez (43, 21:34) and Breanne Resler (52, 21:58) were NorthWood’s other three scorers.
Concord was able to slip into the semi-state on the strength of its top two – Summer Cooper and Jana Fisher – in taking sixth and seventh. Alexa Porter also stole a point, beating Wolfe to the line by a half-second.
Wawasee’s team finished ninth and well out of a qualifying shot with its 212 points. Highlighting Wawasee’s day was Kenzie Smith, who grabbed the fifth of 10 individual spots in the semi-state with her time of 20:26, which was 18th overall in the field. Caitlin Wortinger (49, 21:50), Aubrey Kuhn (58, 22:10), Valeria Pizana (63, 22:20) and Autumn Turner (75, 22:46) made up the Lady Warrior scorers.
Penn had the top girls team at 40 points, clearing Northridge’s 77 and Mishawaka’s 88 by plenty. South Bend Adams took the other semi-state team card with 114 points.
The New Haven Semi-state starts at 1 p.m., with the top six teams from each race along with the top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team eligible for the IHSAA State Finals in Terre Haute on Oct. 28.