ST. JOHN | Two pizza-sized orange and white sugar cookies bore the script “L” for LaPorte, but in the flag portion of the logo that usually reads “Slicers” was the word “Rudy.”
A large blue and white cake unveiled just before the boys race of Tuesday’s co-ed tri-county triple dual read, “Congratulations and Good Luck, Coach Skorupa.”
The Duneland Athletic Conference duals were the final races of their type for retiring Lake Central boys coach Rudy Skorupa, in his 39th year as a head cross country coach and headed for a 40th in track, but alas he couldn’t have his cake and eat it, too, as state No. 2 Valparaiso dominated the course at L.C. to best the host Indians 15-50 and the Slicers 17-46.
Just as the girls team did, the Valpo boys finished undefeated in the regular season DAC slate, which is a third of the criteria for conference champion, the other two-thirds being the conference meet at the end of the month.
“When we had our last huddle, I said the fun and games are over,”
Valparaiso coach Mike Prow said of transitioning from a pre-race gift card and cake presentation into a dominant win.
The top three runners, seven of the first eight and nine of the first 12 all wore green. Senior Peyton Reed (16:04) led the way for the Vikings, a forearm’s length ahead of teammate Ari Coulopoulos.
Reed said the Vikings are still trying to win races with various strategies, so Tuesday they let LaPorte’s Anthony Didion (fourth) take off and then crept up on him.
“We were nice and relaxed and tried to move up as a group,” Reed said.
Skorupa called Valpo “the real deal” and said he’s not going to ponder all the goodbyes until much later in the school year.
The Lake Central girls lost to Valparaiso 17-43, but beat the Slicers 27-30.
Defending DAC champ Elena Lancioni (19:08) was first for LaPorte, but Valpo sophomore Alison Mundell was second in 19:26 to lead five Vikings in the top seven.
L.C. ran without sophomore Megan Zajac, but senior Sarah Hudi was fifth and classmate Alaina Willis was 10th.
Mundell had walking pneumonia for the last two weeks and was often short of breath. She’d had pneumonia three times previously in her life, but this was her first bout as a high-schooler. Saturday’s 17th-place showing at New Prairie was notice to the rest of the area that she’s back.
“(Having walking pneumonia) was just hard because I had to get a lot of rest,” Mundell said. “Coming back from it now, I hope to be better and better.”