By Mike Deak
ELKHART – NorthWood maintained its beat on both sides of its cross country programs while Wawasee saw its team tournaments come to an end, but not all of its soldiers were sent home after the dust settled Saturday morning at the Elkhart Cross Country Sectional at Ox Bow Park.
NorthWood’s Kaitlin Burden almost won her first NLC title, placing second in the girls race with a time of 19:51, but shy of Northridge’s Tame Baylis, who won her first title with a time of 19:30. The Panthers had Emilie Allen in 10th at 21:31, followed by MacKenzie Brewer at 22:25, and Savannah Slone and Sydney Prenkert both crossing at 22:46.
The Lady Panthers were third overall and grabbed one of five tickets to the regional next weekend at Ox Bow. Northridge, the champion for the 29th time, along with Elkhart, Concord and Goshen have their girls teams moving on.
Wawasee placed sixth and missed out on the team advancement, but 60 percent of its roster is heading back to Elkhart. Jasmine Hernandez was 17th overall at 22:21, and teammates Lily Tyler (22:31) and Trinity LaJoice (22:51) advance as individuals. Mariah Hurst (24:12) and Jordan Gibbs (27:20) saw their seasons end for the Warriors.
The boys championship featured an outstanding dash for the title, where Northridge’s Jack Moore and Goshen’s Drew Hogan both got to the finish line at the same time, but Moore touched the line at 15:32.56 to Hogan’s 15:32.58. The RedHawks would get the team glory, winning the sectional over the Raiders, with NorthWood, Concord and Elkhart on the chase.
The Panthers had Brady Hunberger crack the top 10, placing ninth at 16:50. Jordan Burden was five seconds back of Hunsberger. Owen Allen (16:57), Cole Davies (17:40) and Daniel Medina (17:41) made up the scoring punch for the pride of Nappanee.
Wawasee struggled to eighth place, with just Cade Beer (18:57) able to advance to the regional. Teammates Harry Doss (19:16), Joe Mikel (19:44), Brady McDonald (19:51) and Josiah Boyer (19:57) made up the remainder.
Qualifiers from the Elkhart and South Bend Riley sectionals will converge on Ox Bow next Saturday morning for the regional round.