LAPORTE | Mitch Hubner led a pack of LaPorte cross country runners across the finish line at the Jack Bransford Classic on Tuesday afternoon and then immediately turned his thoughts to the future.
Hubner finished the race in 16 minutes, 17 seconds and was the first of six Slicers to complete the race before seventh-place Blaine Wolf of Andrean became the first non-LaPorte runner to cross the finish line.
Austin Palombizio was the first Chesterton runner to finish as the junior led the 2009 state runner-up Trojans in 16th place.
"We know that this was Chesterton's first race of the season, and we've already had one, so we know what to expect and how we race together," Hubner said.
"We also know that we'll see them plenty more times this year. This gives us some confidence for the next time we'll go against them."
The Trojans, who lost many of last season's top performers to graduation, finished third with 95 points behind the 59ers (52 points). LaPorte placed eight runners in the top 10 and easily won the meet with 16 points.
"Our goal was to get as many guys in the top 10 as we could, and we did that," Hubner said. "We want to go to state, and we know that we're going to have to continue to push ourselves throughout the season."
Elena Lancioni added another first-place finish for the Slicers as the freshman won in just her second career varsity race. Lancioni was 25 seconds faster than Andrean's Becca Conley and improved from a second-place finish Saturday.
"I'm glad that I ran a smart race today even though I could've run faster," Lancioni said. "I'm just trying to figure out what strategy is the best for me in these races."
Despite Lancioni's first-place finish, Chesterton emerged with the team crown, placing five girls in the top 10. Melanie Buckmaster led the Trojans with a third-place finish (21:06), while Kim St. Pierre took fourth (21:08).
"It was nice to get out there and dust off the spikes a little bit," Chesterton coach Brian Carden said.
"We just want to keep going with the program now and to stay healthy. Staying healthy is going to be key for us this season."