By Mike Deak
CULVER – The regional round of the IHSAA cross country state tournament held at Culver Academy once again turned into the Warsaw Invite.
The boys and girls programs from the Kosciusko County seat each continued their long run of tourney success, although the individual circuit gaps were closed in the second leg of the state tournament.
Warsaw’s boys ran its regional championship streak to double digits with its tenth straight title, smoking the field with a 27, far and away ahead of runner-up Culver Academy’s 84. After struggling to keep its team in the same zip code at the Manchester Sectional, Warsaw’s team ran within 54 seconds of one another, and did so within the regional’s top 12. Garrett Hall was third at 17:13, returning home with Harrison Phipps a second behind at 17:14. Luke Nier timed 17:25, Tyler Swartz at 17:50 and Ryun Hoffert at 18:07.
Sam Tullis of Culver Academy was the overall champion at 16:59, with Maconaquah’s Isaiah Wittenberg one second ahead of Hall for second place.
Warsaw, Culver Academy, Plymouth, Rochester and Northwestern all advanced to the New Prairie Semi-state as teams.
Culver Academy was the end of the road for Tippecanoe Valley and Triton boys individuals. For Valley, Isaac Whetstone was the top Viking at 20:08, followed by Evan Myers (21:03) and Brady Rodgers (21:17). For Triton, Travis Barnhart (21:18) and Jaydon Heckaman (22:44) saw their seasons end as well.
On the girls side, Warsaw won its ninth straight and tenth regional overall with a 46, about half the score of runner-up Rochester’s 90. Culver Academy, Maconaquah and Western also got out of the regional to run again next week.
After running nearly unopposed for almost a month, someone finally clipped Warsaw’s Joey Rastrelli for the title, that being Northwestern’s Hannah Moore. The sophomore counterpart ran a 19:41 to pull away from Rastrelli’s 20:01. In a row beginning eighth was Wini Barnett (20:43), Elizabeth Vander Bie (20:50) and Mikayla Mimnaugh (20:52). Fifth score for the Lady Tigers was Regan Brouwer (21:18).
“I’m very proud of how the girls worked on such a sloppy course,” said Warsaw girls head coach Jason Fleming. “They executed our race plan very well. Strong efforts from everyone today.”
While the Valley and Triton boys seasons ended, an individual on each of the girls teams press on to semi-state. Triton’s Jocelynn Faulkner was 17th overall in the race with a time of 21:13 and Valley’s Chesnee Miller was two seconds behind Faulkner. The placements were crucial as Faulkner and Miller were ninth and tenth in the individual standings, taking the final two slots for another week of competition.
NorthWood qualified its two teams for semi-state berths at next week’s races at Huntington University with plus runs at the Elkhart Regional at Ox Bow.
The Panthers were fourth in the boys standings and fifth in the girls standings. Goshen won the boys title, edging out Northridge 53-58 while Penn rolled to the girls title with 34 points, 20 clear of Northridge. Jack Moore of Northridge was the boys winner with a time of 15:24, Julie Smith of Penn leading the girls field with a stop of 18:58.
For the NorthWood boys, Brady Hunsberger led the way with a 16:46, followed by Jordan Burden (16:53), Bereket Bennett (17:26), Grady Stevenson (17:44) and Owen Allen (17:57).
For the NorthWood girls, Kaitlin Burden was sixth overall with a time of 19:37. Filing in for the Panthers were Emilie Allen (20:57), MacKenzie Brewer (22:01), Savannah Slone (22:06) and Sydney Prenkert (22:16).
Wawasee sent three girls to the regional, and all had their seasons come to a close. Trinity LaJoice ran a personal best 22:05, followed by Lily Tyler (22:17) and Jasmine Hernandez (22:27).