LOWELL | Running in the cold and rain isn't exactly the preferred condition for most cross country athletes, but Munster's Tony Rigoni made it look that way Saturday.
Rigoni finished second in the boys varsity race (16 minutes, 33 seconds) establishing a new personal record to help pace the Mustangs to 52 points and the championship in the Northwest Crossroads Conference meet.
"It was a good day, I just pushed it," Rigoni said. "I was hurting (sore calf muscles), but I always seem to run better in the rain. We had a hard week of practice, and it paid off."
Along with Rigoni, Munster's Grant Sepiol (ninth place) and Tom Bolanowski (10th place) helped the Mustangs hold off a strong Andrean team, which finished second with 57 points.
"We're going to keep hammering for another week or so and taper off," Munster coach Aaron Brown said. "The guys have responded and have done a good job so far."
Highland's Jake Baranowski won the race in 16:23, crediting some pressure from Rigoni as one of the reasons he kept running strong.
"It was tough out there today," he said. "Tony Rigoni helped push me. The rain was definitely the toughest since it's cold out. For a little bit there, I was really wondering what was going to happen because Andrean was running up there tough (and) the same with Munster. I was just trying to play it out and see what happens."
After coming off a strong performance in winning last week's Highland Invite, Kankakee Valley recorded 43 points to take the girls title. Kristin Fritts finished third (19:31) while Felicia Systma (fifth place) and Allison Rockley (eighth place) helped round the Kougars' scoring.
"We weren't sure how this year was going to be, but with our incoming freshmen, it's been great," Fritts said. "We've come really far I think, and I think we have a chance to go a lot farther."
K.V. coach Lane Lewallen has seen the Kougars improve leaps and bounds as the season goes on.
"All seven of our varsity girls ran well," he said. "You see in a meet like this that the talent of our girls really shows up. We really lived up to and exceeded expectations."
Griffith's Taylor Austin ran a 19:20 to win the girls race, surprising herself in the process. Austin overtook the lead during the second lap.
"I really thought I was going to get third or second," she said. "I just had to stay in and not give up."