RENSSELAER | Area teams combined for impressive results at the 39th Rensselaer Invitational on Saturday morning, while the Crown Point and Valparaiso boys teams battled for supremacy.
The Times No. 1 Vikings took team victories in the 10th and 12th grade races, No. 3 C.P. won the ninth grade team title and had individual champions in the 10th, 11th and 12th grade races.
“It means, hey, we’re going to have a good regional with them,” Crown Point 10th grade winner Ryan Kepshire said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. Valpo’s a good team, very tough. They always give us a run for our money.
“The Valpo kid, Danny Dalton (who finished second), he kept me going the whole time. I really just stuck behind him the whole race and got him at the end. At the two-mile mark, I went.”
Such was the battle that took place all day between the Bulldogs and Valparaiso. Crown Point edged the Vikings by four points in the ninth grade race and the Vikings won the 10th and 12th grade races by a total of 11 points.
“It means a lot to our young guys, especially,” Valparaiso head coach Michael Prow said. “We’ve got a large team of about 40, so when our eight freshmen are running against guys who are, you know, ranked 40th in the state, it kind of gets them down. This gives them a chance to see how good they really are.”
While the Vikings were looking to boost their own confidence, Crown Point was looking to prove they belong in the conversation of top cross country teams.
“I think, honestly, we were the team that nobody thought would be up here this far,” Bulldogs 12th grade winner Tyler Gray said. “We’ve just been working hard in practice and our coach has just been letting us know that they have us ranked (lower than we’d like) and they don’t expect us to do anything. We’ve been using that as motivation.”
Now, Crown Point hopes to keep the momentum moving forward.
“Our goal is to make it to state as a team, and what we proved here today is that it’s really possible,” 11th grade winner Jacob Langbehn said. “We have four guys under 17 (minutes) already in this race. Basically, our goal is to stay strong, work together and get to the end together.”
Hebron's Scott Crawley won the ninth grade race.
Also, South Central's Kyleigh Werner won the 11th/12th grade girls race, while Hebron’s Peyton Schatz took first overall in the 9th/10th grade race.