PORTER TWP. | Winning never gets old.
Just ask the Hebron girls cross country team, which won its sixth Porter County Conference Championship in seven years Tuesday at Boone Grove.
Or Kyleigh Werner, the South Central junior who defended her title in the same race.
"They're still excited," said Hebron coach Mike DeFries, whose boys also took home honors for the third time in four years. "They don't want to lose. I told them, don't go out there and think, go out there and have fun.
"That's what it's all about. You've got hundreds of people out here cheering for you. They keep 'globbing' together. It's just one big 'glob.'"
The Hawks girls posted a score of 27, putting six runners in the top 10, led by runner-up Payton Schatz. The boys tallied 40 points, bunching all seven in the top 15.
Scott Crawley crossed in fourth, one of three Hebron freshmen in their lineup. The Hawks boys overcame internal turmoil that resulted in the transfer last week of senior Ryan Witt to LaCrosse. Witt was cleared to compete for the Tigers by the IHSAA and placed 13th.
"It's been a really weird last couple weeks, but they responded very well," DeFries said. "I was happy for our kids and I was happy for Ryan. I told him my goal was to see him get a medal around his neck."
Ben Savage came across in 17:04, 31 seconds ahead of Boone's Jon Hogg, to give Morgan Township its third straight individual winner. Alec Kostelnik captured the last two.
"I was hoping Hogg would go with me a little longer," Savage said. "I made a move at the mile mark and he didn't, so I was like, OK, just finish. My time wasn't that great, but I didn't really push it that hard.
"I just wanted to win. It's a good start to the postseason."
Hogg knew Savage was going to go. He just didn't have the answer.
"I was trying to surge with him, but my body just didn't respond," Hogg said. "I really didn't have it, I guess. Really, there's no excuse. Second place isn't anything to be angry about. I just wish I had run better overall." Ben definitely ran well. He always has and always will."
Werner was happy to have Schatz keep her on her toes for the better part of 4,000 meters.
"Payton motivated me, for sure," Werner said. "I didn't fall asleep during the race. It's always good to try to push other conference teammates. We're all so close. You see us afterward. It doesn't matter what team we're on. That's my favorite part."
Schatz, who was also second to Werner a year ago, was racing for the first time in almost two weeks, resting with tendinitis in both legs.
"Actually, that's the closest I've ever been to (Werner)," she said. "I didn't want to (think) negative, being out. (Staying positive) helped me during the race. I wanted to get second again, so I'm very happy."
Schatz's sister Lexie, who placed ninth was voted girls mental attitude winner. LaCrosse's Nate Rhodes was the boys honoree. He finished seventh.