NEW CARLISLE --
From the expression, or lack of, on Tim Ray's face, you would never have
known the Chesterton boys cross country team had just been announced as the
New Prairie Regional champions.
"It's a tribute to
the kids. They've worked hard," the stoic Trojans coach said. "But it's not
the ultimate goal."
One, Ray knows
bigger things lie ahead in this week's semistate, and two, sectional
champion Valparaiso didn't have top runner Jack Acton finish the race.
The bottom line for
Ray was it was a step in the right direction after a sub-par performance in
"It was better," he
said. "That's one of the things we talked about (at sectionals). At this
point of the season, every weekend, the goal is to get better, and I thought
we did that. I thought we achieved our goals. That's all you can ask for."
58 points to Valpo's 74 for its first regional title since 2009. LaPorte
(77), New Prairie (88) and Portage (90) also advanced as teams.
"I thought they
located each other better than they did last (race)," Ray said.
The Trojans were
led by Nathan O'Connor's fourth-place finish in 16 minutes, 28.1 seconds.
Mitchell Gits of LaPorte won at 16:15.6.
Chesterton, Matthew VanKley and Will Shook crossed successively in 12th
(16:47.9) and 13th (16:48.8) with Dylan Draves 16th (16:51.9) and Kenny Erow
26th (17:09.1). Kyler Haynes was 32nd (17:23.8) and Matthew Streeter 42nd
"They know to be as
good as they can be, the whole piece has to come through," Ray said. "They
can't be, oh, I'm going to do my own thing, I'm going to do this, I'm going
to do that. I told them that's not going to work for you guys. They have to
keep moving up together. I think they realize that now."
Like most of the
team, O'Connor rebounded from the prior week's showing.
into it, I felt a lot more confident," he said. "I just wanted to get back
from last week, make up for it. I think I wasn't focused going into it. Our
goal was to stay as a group and finish good. There were definitely some of
the Valpo kids I wanted to be with. I wanted to be with top group and stick
with them. I felt a lot better. The course was better. It's a confidence
Chesterton's lead dog hasn't always been easy for O'Connor, but he’s
settling into the new role.
"It's been a little
bit of an adjustment. It can get a little stressful at times," he said. "As
season's gone on,
I've adjusted to it better."
AT NEW PRAIRIE
1. Chesterton, 58;
2. Valparaiso, 74; 3. LaPorte, 77; 4. New Prairie, 88; 5. Portage, 90; 6.
Morgan Twp., 131; 7. Kankakee Valley, 170; 8. Kouts, 224; 9. Rensslaer, 257;
10. South Newton, 288.
1. Mitchell Gits
(LP), 16:15.6; 2. Trevor Braden (MT), 16:20.2; 3. Nate Smith (V), 16:27.3;
16:28.1; 5. Kyle Gutierrez (P), 16:32.9; 6. Carson Bakker (Covenant
Christian), 16:35.7; 7.
Tom Elwood (P),
16:37.3; 8. Jacob Corbett (NP), 16:40.5; 9. Joe Angert (V), 16:44.3; 10.
Hudson Hall (Wheeler), 16:45.9.
finishers: 12. Matthew VanKley, 16:47.9, 13. Will Shook, 16:48.8, 16. Dylan
Draves, 16:51.9; 26. Kenny Erow, 17:09.1; 32. Kyler Haynes, 17:23.8; 42.
Matthew Streeter, 17:44.5.