PORTER TOWNSHIP | Hebron, the top boys and girls team in the Porter County Conference in the dual season, on Tuesday capped its perfect run in the PCC Championships.
The Hawks' boys edged Morgan Township and the host Wolves, 53-58-61, to hold on to the title. The girls won with 40 points, and Morgan was second with 83. Defending champion Boone, also with 83, placed third on the sixth-runner tiebreaker.
It's the first time Hebron has swept boys and girls.
"I felt better about the girls," Hebron coach Mike DeFries said. "They've been pretty consistent and pack together pretty well. The boys, I knew it was going to be tough. I told them before the race, our No. 4 through No. 7 have to pick it up, get up where they belong and stay there. That's how we beat (Morgan) the first time."
The Cherokees put three in the top 10, including winner Alec Kostelinik, but Hebron overcame Morgan with its fifth runner.
"I told one of my assistant coaches (P.J. Fox) it would be fair if Morgan won this one because we snuck out the (dual)," DeFries said. "But I don't want to be fair. I'd rather win. We really wanted to go back-to-back."
Kostelnik crossed in 16:32, 32 seconds in front of Boone's Jon Hogg.
"My plan was to push hard through the hill and surge after it, and it worked out perfectly," Kostelnik said. "I was feeling strong. I definitely had a lot of motivation. Every time I ran in the summer, I thought about getting back here."
Hogg bested Hebron's Jasen Egolf, his former teammate and the mental attitude award winner, for the first time.
"It felt so good. That's been my yearly goal," said Hogg, dedicating the race to his uncle Dan Hogg, who died last spring. "I pushed the pace. I'd rather go too hard and fade than not give it my all and not finish where I could have."
Hebron's girls, with three freshmen and two sophomores in the top five, took the race comfortably without putting a runner in the top five. Liz Fox headed a string of five Hawks in sixth place.
"I'm a little apprehensive until I see them the first time. Then I know they're fine," DeFries said. "The freshmen don't know any better. They just run. I'm really happy with them."
Kouts' Tara Hamstra continued her progression up the individual ranks. Ninth, sixth and third in her previous PCC races, the Fillies' senior won in 20:35, five seconds in front of Morgan's Ellen Turman.
"I wanted to go out strong and push through the second mile," said Hamstra, also the mental attitude award winner. "Normally, I kick it in pretty strong the last mile. It pushes you to keep going, knowing people are out to get you. I just wanted to do my best and leave the results to God, and he threw in the win."
Turman was ecstatic with her runner-up finish.
"My coach told me, stay 10 feet behind Tara," Turman said. "Last year, I had breathing issues. This year, I'm more in control. It's my senior year. I gained more confidence. That helped a lot."