Finishing together: Chesterton’s Cassie Peller (front)
tries to keep her focus as Mary Ballinger follows right behind, Saturday at
the state meet in Bloomington. Peller and Ballinger finished back-to-back
for the second straight year. (Tribune photo by Jimmy Kissee)
Second at state: Chesterton’s girls cross country team
capped off the 2003 season with a runner-up finish at the state meet on
Saturday. Front row: (left to right) Sarah Kehe (all-state), Cassie Peller
(all-state), Kellie Cahillane, Ali Bishel, Tanja Semler and Emma Klein. Back
row: Katie Talbert, Tess Mullin, Mary Ballinger (all-state), Alissa Bishel,
Kellie Cahillane and Kelly Peller. (Tribune photo by Jimmy Kissee)
By JIMMY KISSEE
Cassie Peller wanted to save her best for last.
The Chesterton senior, who finished 164th as a freshman, 38th as a sophomore
and 7th as junior, did exactly that, shaving over six seconds from her
previous fastest time to place 10th and lead the Lady Trojans to a runner-up
finish for just the third time in school history Saturday at the State Meet
“This is just incredible what we did as a team today,” Peller said with a
big smile. “We all did this together. We’ve been working so hard since the
start and it’s just so rewarding to be up there at the end. You always want
to win, but second place is pretty awesome. I can’t complain.”
Chesterton totaled 120 team points, trailing back-to-back state champion and
Duneland Athletic Conference rival Valparaiso by 42. Lawrence North took the
third spot with 136, followed by Northridge in fourth at 143 and Dekalb
rounding out the top-five with 146.
Michigan City capped off its impressive season with a 13th place team
“Some of the girls are disappointed, but you just have to look at their
times,” Chesterton coach Mike Rouse said. “For us to end up second for what
we do, compared to what they have and what they do is nothing to be unhappy
about. They run a top notch program over there and they’re No. 1 for a
Rouse couldn’t have been prouder for his senior leader to cap off her
brilliant high school career with such a strong showing.
“Cassie is an unbelievable individual,” Rouse said. “People don’t understand
that we can have talent, but her leadership is what makes things work.
That’s what is going to be missed the most even more than her running
ability. She’s a mother out there and keeps everyone on task. Not only in
her words, but her character, her action and her work ethic. She can’t be
replaced. Someone is going to take her spot, but she can’t be replaced.”
Right behind Peller was Chesterton sophomore Mary Ballinger in 11th.
Ballinger, who appears ready to take the torch from Peller next season,
finished with a quicker time than last season’s state meet, but was still
somewhat displeased with her overall placing.
“My time was the best ever, but last year I ran a smarter race,” said
Ballinger, who placed eighth as a freshman at state.
“I wasn’t able to go out with the lead group because there was so many girls
packed up in front of me. I am happy with my time, but I wanted to improve
on my finish.”
Ballinger went on to add that she already has her sights set on next year.
“I already have my goals set on state next year,” she said. I want to be top
three for the next two years.”
Ballinger wasn’t the only Chesterton sophomore making a name for herself
Sarah Kehe topped her career-best time from last Saturday’s New Prairie
Semistate, by crossing the finish line for the first time under 15 minutes.
The emerging star earned all-state honors for her impressive showing,
placing 20th in 14:55.
“Sarah had her best race ever by far,” Rouse said. “This was over and above
what anyone could have expected.”
Kehe’s running mate all season, sophomore three-sporter Kelly Peller, placed
36th overall with a solid time of 15:21. Tess Mullin rounded out the Lady
Trojan top five placing 93rd (16:04). Other Chesterton results were Katie
Talbert in 122nd (16:38) and Alissa Bishel in 139th (17:04).
“We’ve only been second here two other times in school history so that’s
pretty rewarding,” Rouse said.
“It was better than last year when we were ranked second all season and then
placed third. You never want to finish lower than your ranking coming into
the meet. They don’t give trophies for third place.”
Rouse went on to add that the question now is whether or not the school and
the rest of the community is always going to be happy playing second fiddle
“If they are happy with that, that’s fine,” he said. “If they aren’t, they
have to be willing to make some changes. If they aren’t willing to make
those changes, than they have to be satisfied with second every time.”
2003 Indiana HS Girls XC State Finals
At Indiana University XC Course
1. Valparaiso, 78; 2. CHESTERTON 120; 3. Lawrence North, 136; 4. Northridge,
143; 5. Dekalb, 146; 6. Indianapolis Cathedral, 149; 7. Columbus North, 195;
8. Carmel, 195; 9. FW Concordia, 253; 10. Indianapolis Chatard, 256; 11.
West Lafayette, 279; 12. Fort Wayne Northrop, 296; 13. Michigan City, 322;
14. Penn, 329; 15. Homestead, 363; 16. Bloomington South, 391; 17. Northview,
400; 18. Jasper, 499; 19. Heritage Hills, 508; 20. Silver Creek, 530.
1. Alissa McKaig, FW Concordia, 14:06.9; 2. Katie Harrington, Carmel,
14:09.4; 3. Rachel Stichter, Wawasee, 14:13.4; 4. Racheal Marchand,
Valparaiso, 14:14.0; 5. Laura Geswein, Plainfield, 14:18.1; 6. Julie Eckerly,
Columbus North, 14:26.3; 7. Adele Mitchell, FW Concordia, 14:33.8; 8. Megan
Jackson, Northridge, 14:34.1; 9. Amy Kempf, Carroll (Allen), 14:34.4; 10.
Cassie Peller, Chesterton, 14:34.6; 11. Mary Ballinger, Chesterton, 14:35.2;
12. Lauren Hardesty, Valparaiso, 14:41.6; 13. Allison Malone, Rensselaer,
14:43.1; 14. Heather Stembridge, Evansville Central, 14:44.5; 15. Leslee
Getts, DeKalb, 14:45.8; 16. Temeka Kincy, Lawrence North, 14:50.0; 17. Aimee
Gingerich, Northridge, 14:53.3; 18. Marie Grabinski, Carmel, 14:53.4; 19.
Eleanor Lammers, Indpls N. Central, 14:54.3; 20. Sarah Kehe, Chesterton,
14:55.2; 21. Crystina Aburto-Martin, Wheeler, 14:56.1; 22. Stephanie Greer,
Indpls Roncalli, 14:56.4; 23. Julie Martz, Valparaiso, 15:02.2; 24. Anna
Weber, Michigan City, 15:06.1; 25. Erin Kingsbury, Fort Wayne Northrop,
Other Chesterton Results
36. Kelly Peller 15:21.1; 93. Tess Mullin 16:04.2; 122. Katie Talbert
16:38.6, 139. Alissa Bishel 17:04.0.