resurgence in girls cross country and Shelby Bullock's ascent in the
individual ranks has rekindled the rivalry in the sport between the Trojans
and Valparaiso, both of whom have a long history of success in the sport.
But if you think
there's anything UFC about Bullock's battle at the top with the Vikings' Ava
Gilliana, that would be a mistake.
"I really like
having Ava there," Bullock said. "We really push each other. The last 800,
we were talking, encouraging each other, giving each other high fives."
When the pair
entered the quarter-mile finishing straightaway, it was every man (or in
this case, woman) for herself, and Bullock, not known for her closing speed,
pulled away to win in 19 minutes, 8.05 seconds for the New Prairie Sectional
title Saturday. Gilliana crossed in 19:16.1.
"As we turned the
last turn, at that point, you realize basically the only thing you can do is
go give it your all," Bullock said. "Like I've said, on any given day,
anybody can win. I knew I needed to kick it in and I was able to pull away."
Lindsay Moskalick was impressed with Bullock's ability to seize control
"Going into the
last 400, I was a little nervous because Ava's got a good kick, being a
miler and Shelby a two-miler (in track)," Moskalick said. "But we're in the
training phase where we're doing speed stuff, things at the ends of races,
and that's really helping. It's only her third season as a high school
athlete, so it's got to be a huge confidence boost for her to be able to do
that. It's nice to see her keep improving."
As was the case the
week before in the Duneland Athletic Conference meet, Bullock's victory
keyed a runner-up finish for the Trojans as a team. Valparaiso won with 37
points to the Trojans' 55. Wheeler, Portage and LaPorte also advanced to
Saturday's New Prairie Regional.
"We came into it
thinking we had a shot, but second would be good," Moskalick said.
Ranta took fourth, a breath out of third, in 19:37.1, while Kara Krol was
eighth in 20:32.04.
"Every race has
been a learning experience for Bailey and she's doing really well,"
Moskalick said. "She's a competitor. Kara had a good race, too. They're
moving up like they need to."
was 18th (21:01.4) and freshman Bree Gentry was 26th (21:46.5), followed by
Rebecca White (21:51.7). Taylor Edwards was 32nd in 22:09.4.
"The big thing
again, and the girls know it, is closing the gap between our four, five, six
and seven runners," Moskalick said. "As we get further along in the
tournament series, it's only going to hurt our overall score."