Chesterton Tribune

Photos: Peller and Ballinger take top spots at girls Cross Country Regional

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Solid showing: Chesterton’s Tess Mullin ventures through the woods Saturday at the New Prairie Regional. Mullin turned in one of her better efforts of the season placing 19th with a time of 16:10. (Tribune photos by Jimmy Kissee)

Top two: Chesterton’s Cassie Peller (1) strides out down the finishing stretch as Mary Ballinger (2) follows right behind Saturday at the New Prairie Regional. Peller took top honors with a time of 14:50, while Ballinger was second at 14:51.



It wasn’t the record-setting day Cassie Peller had last season at the New Praire Regional, but the individual first place finish on Saturday might have been even more special for the Chesteton senior.

“This is just so exciting for me, because I really need the confidence boost after what I have been going through the past couple of weeks,” said Peller, who crossed the finish line in 14:50- just 10 seconds off last year’s meet record.

“A lot of it just comes down to heart. Sometimes I think that’s what seperates me from other runners is the fact that I run with so much heart and that’s what I love so much about running.”

After a fourth place finish at the Duneland Athletic Conference Championship meet, followed by a third place showing at the sectional, Peller, who’s not used to taking anything but the top honor, has been down that past week or so.

“I was wearing myself down so much and it took a crash at the end of the season for me to say, ‘Cassie you need to back off a little bit’,” Peller said. “I’ve had so many people supporting me and telling me that thay still believe in me, but in the end it came down to my wanting it.”

Peller said it hurt down the stretch, but she just kept repeating to herself ‘I can, I can, I can.’

“Before the race I felt good, but I was definitely hurting at the end,” Peller said.

“It was great having Mary (Ballinger) behind me instead of Racheal (Marchand), because it gave me more of a boost. As teammates we were able to really push each other along.”

Ballinger, who topped Valpo’s Marchand for the sectional title earlier in the week, finished just a second behind Peller at 14:51 for runner-up honors.

“With Mary racing the way she has been, and having that 1-2 punch is going to be crucial all the way through,” Chesterton coach Mike Rouse said.

“Coming into today, no one could predict the top three, because the last three races they’ve all been in and each of them has won one. It was very exciting though to see our girls finish 1-2.”

Even with the 1-2 finish, the Vikings were still able to squeeze out the 34-39 victory over the Trojans for the team regional title.

Despite the loss, Peller remained optimistic about the Lady Trojans chances of catching the No. 1 ranked Vikings.

“We kind of changed our attitudes now and we’re having just more fun out there,” Peller said.

“The pressure is all on Valpo and all we have to do is catch them. It’s kind of nice being in this position and I think it’s a real possibility. At the middle of the season, I would’ve said I highly doubt it, but after today I really think it’s a possibility and that’s really exciting because there are just two more races left.”

After the top two, Sarah Kehe placed 10th (15:30) and Kelly Peller was right behind in 11th (15:33) for Chesterton. Tess Mullin turned in one of her best efforts of the season finishing 19th in 16:10, followed by Katie Talbert placing 23rd (16:28) and Alissa Bishel 32nd (16:48).

Valpo was led by Marchand (14:57) and Lauren Hardesty’s (15:03) 3-4 finish.

The two teams will get back at it this Saturday at the New Praire Semistate.

Girls Cross Country Results

New Prairie Regional

At New Prairie HS

Team Scores

1. Valparaiso 34, 2. CHESTERTON 39, 3. Michigan City 94, 4. Portage 101, 5. New Prairie 123, 6. Hebron 179, 7. Morgan Township 193, 8. North Judson 223, 9. LaPorte 243, 10. Glenn 254.

(Note: Top 5 teams advance to New Prairie Semistate)

Top 15 Individuals

1. Cassie Peller (Chesterton) 14:50, 2. Mary Ballinger (Chesterton) 14:51, 3. Racheal Marchand (Valpo) 14:57, 4. Lauren Hardesty (Valpo) 15:03, 5. Christina Blackwell (Portage) 15:05, 6. Crystina Aburto-Martinez (Wheeler) 15:18, 7. Anna Weber (Michigan City) 15:20, 8. Amanda Hardesty (Valpo) 15:25, 9. Andrea Kent (Valpo) 15:26, 10. Sarah Kehe (Chesterton) 15:30, 11. Kelly Peller (Chesterton) 15:33, 12. Crystal Alburto-Martinez (Wheeler) 15:34, 13. Kimberly Woodruff (Michigan City) 15:37, 14. Julie Martz (Valpo) 15:44, 15. Laura Gamble (New Prairie) 15:47.

(Note: Top 15 individuals advance to New Prairie Semistate)

Other Chesterton Results

19. Tess Mullin 16:10, 23. Katie Talbert 16:28, 32. Alissa Bishel 16:48.


Posted 10/20/2003