NEW CARLISLE | The list of four-time champions at the New Prairie Invitational is a short one.
It got a little bigger Saturday when Boone Grove's Jordan Chester rolled to another Class A title at the meet, joining a select club with Celeste Susnis (Kankakee Valley) and Alex Banfich (Culver Academy) in the process.
"I've always wanted to run in the AAA race, but I've never been able to because of soccer," said Chester, who took off minutes later for a match against Wheeler, as has been the case each year. "I really wanted to come out and break 19 (minutes) for the first time on this course. I thought I almost went out a little too fast. There were so many runners, I didn't want to get boxed in."
That wasn't a problem for Chester, who led from virtually the starting gun to the finish line, crossing in 18:51.
The race had a distinct Porter County Conference tone with Hebron edging Tri-County for the team title, 81-83.
"The kids have bought into what we're doing at practice -- we've slowed the pace down a little -- and the times are coming down," Hebron coach Mike DeFries said. "They're excited. They want to run. I didn't care what our place was. We came here and did what we wanted to do."
Jordan Hanaway led the way for the Hawks, placing fourth in 19:26, which breaks her week-old school record.
"She's changed the whole face of the program," DeFries said.
Valpo claimed its first AAA crown since 2005, topping Carroll (Fort Wayne) 88-98.
"It's nice to win but at the same time, I like what I saw them go out and accomplish," Vikings coach Karen DeVries said. "They're training better. They're starting to feel confidence in themselves and what they're doing. We've got some upperclassmen, and their experience is setting the tone for the team."
Katelyn DeVries paced Valpo, finishing third in 18:45. Culver Academy's Waverly Neer won in 18:26.
"I was pretty happy with what I did, considering I didn't feel all that great," DeVries said. "We're all a little sore from all the running, so we're hoping to do even better. It was exciting to turn around and see everyone all coming."
The Vikings placed five runners in the top 30.
The AAA top 10 featured seven locals, including three freshmen -- LaPorte's Elena Lancioni (fourth), Hobart's Celena Guerrero (sixth) and Portage's Paige Pizer (10th).