HIGHLAND | It's safe to say Saturday's Highland Invite was one of the best moments of Dylan Harrison's cross country career.
The Merrillville senior set a personal record, finishing the boys varsity race in 15 minutes, 49 seconds, which broke the Pirates' school record in the process. Merrillville finished third overall with 99 points.
Since Harrison has recently had allergy problems coupled with pain in the iliotibial band in his right leg, being 100-percent healthy came as a breath of fresh air for him.
"I feel great," Harrison said, adding his mindset was to win the race. "I'm hoping for better races than this."
Harrison was behind Highland's Jake Baranowski for the first third of the race before Harrison kicked it up a notch. Baranowski ended up finishing second in 15:51, also a PR.
"I knew that Dylan had a really strong kick, and usually kicks it at some point midway through the race, so I knew that was coming," Baranowski said. "It was a really good day. The weather wasn't too bad."
Andrean received a third-place finish from Blaine Wolf (16:09) and seventh place from Pat Musgrave (16:31), helping the 59ers take home the boys title with 69 total points.
"Our plan was to come in here and win and have some momentum going into the (Northwest Crossroads Conference) meet next week," Andrean coach Rick Torres said. "Our goal was to have all five guys in the Top 20, and we almost got it. They're young right now and they're learning a lot. I'm happy with their progress."
On the girls side, Boone Grove's Jordan Chester took the individual title in 18:29, 12 seconds ahead of Perry Meridian's Kieran Casey. Chester won the Highland Invite during her freshman and junior seasons, as well.
"I've been tight all week because of soccer and cross country, and I never really recovered," said Chester, whose time was a personal best. "I was a little worried about today, but I knew it was flat, and I really wanted to come out and run good. I usually run in the low 19's (at the Highland Invite), but I've never broken 19, so I was really excited."
Kankakee Valley coach Lane Lewallen was especially pleased with the effort of his team, which had four runners in the top 17. Kristin Fritts' time of 19:18 -- shattering her own school record -- led the Kougars to 87 points and the meet title. Four K.V. runners set PR times.
"It was a phenomenal performance," Lewallen said. "We're thrilled. There are so many good teams here. Highland does a great job putting this invite together. We're very proud to come away with the win. This is the first time in recent knowledge that we've actually won. This is huge for us."