NEW CARLISLE — It's been 43 years since the 1974 boys state cross country championship and Carey Pinkowski remembers it like it was yesterday.
Then again, it's a difficult race to forget.
It marked the only time that runners, in this case, Hammond's Pinkowski and Rudy Chapa, tied for the individual title, crossing in tandem. It was also the only time a team finished 1-2-3 and didn't win the meet, Portage caputring the title that the Wildcats seemed a lead-pipe cinch to bring back to Lake County.
"Hammond High had such a dominant team," Pinkowski, the 1973 and '74 state champ, said. "All the talk was about the disappointment of Hammond not winning it, but I think one piece that's been missed in history is how well-coached and disciplined a team Portage was.
"The job Portage did to figure us out. We ran them four, five times and it wasn't a problem, but they figured out what they needed to do, they did it and they beat us. They were the champs. They earned it. They were smart, patient and strategic. They waited for us and they got us at the right time. That's what cross country's all about."