CROWN POINT | Veteran Crown Point coach Keith Iddings doesn’t have a name for his top three senior runners -- Daniel Walters, Tom Cierniak and Alex Ray -- and they all like it that way.
So there’s no three amigos or three musketeers in a sport that features individuals but promotes teamwork.
“No, no, I’m not that clever,” said Iddings, in his 16th year at C.P. “I’ll call them something when I call them over, but it’s never the same.”
Walters, Cierniak and Ray have been unyielding all season long for the Times No. 4 Bulldgos, with the three usually only separated by a handful of seconds. They took the top three spots Tuesday in a triangular meet with Merrillville and Michigan City, separated by just one second, as Cierniak won followed by Walters and Ray.
“Sometimes the gap is pretty close to each other,” Iddings said. “Daniel has been first in all the meets except for Purdue Invite and (Tuesday). On (Tuesday) they decided what order they would finish since they were so far out in front of everybody. They talked about, ‘So who wants to win today.’”
Cierniak said there’s no need for a special name for the trio.
“We’re just all part of the same team,” he said.
And it’s been a superlative team that’s looking to improve on last year’s squad that placed 16th in the state meet. Why have they been clicking?
“Definitely, it’s teamwork,” said Ray, a co-captain along with Walters. “Whether it’s doing speed work or running together in practice to become more comfortable with one another out on the course.
“Right now we have a solid three, and we’re looking for a four and a five. The higher we can place, the better our chances are to advance.”
One moniker that has stuck is “team mom” for Walters, given to him by last year’s seniors.
“He definitely is the team mom,” Ray said. “He’s always making sure everybody has everything, whether it’s a uniform or spikes.
“It’s always a joke. Sometimes we need that. We have a laugh, and it takes a little of the pressure off.”
Walters said he just wants to help out in any way he can.
“I offer them a ride home from practice if they need it,” he said. “I just try to be a friend. We’re all friends.”
And these friends have set a goal to get on the podium at the state meet -- top five as a team and a top 15 as individuals.
“It’s a long shot, but it’s our last year, and we really want to achieve that,” Ray said.