HAMMOND | They are the New York Yankees of Lake County girls cross country and see no reason to apologize.
Lake Central made it seven straight sectional titles Tuesday, placing five runners among the first 10 at Dowling Park for a convincing 23-67 victory over second-place Highland.
Shelby Carroll and Anna Kacius went 1-2 for L.C., Carroll bringing it home in 19 minutes, 21 seconds and Kacius overtaking Griffith's Taylor Austin in the final 200 meters for her 19:22.
The top five teams and top 15 individuals move on to Saturday's Crown Point Regional at Lemon Lake.
"We really work together as a team, running together as a pack," Carroll said of the program's extended success. "At about the 4K mark, I picked it up. I saw (Austin) staying with me and told myself: 'OK, I got to go now.'"
Added Kacius: "If I'm not (physically) beat after a race, I don't feel good because I know I could've done better. That's the approach we take."
Envy? Jealousy? You won't find it at Lake Central.
"If Shelby beats me in a race, I'm like: 'Hey, good goin', girl. That was amazing. You kicked butt,'" Kacius said. "And she's the same with me."
Rounding out the Indians' top five were Tatiana Lazic (4th), Sarah Hudi (6th) and Amanda Onest (10th). Of that group, Kacius is the lone senior.
On the boys' side, Highland's Jacob Baranowski covered the 3.1 miles in 16:31, edging Tony Rigoni of team champion Munster by 10 seconds.
Both are juniors.
"I'm disappointed," Rigoni said. "My only goal coming in, other than our team winning, was beating Jacob. We've both improved and I wanted to show him I'm at his level.
"I've got to work at getting faster. I'm at the make-or-break point of either getting to state as a team or by myself."
Rigoni also finished second to Baranowski at the Northwest Crossroads Conference meet and continues to impress his neighboring rival.
"Last week at conference, he really stepped everything up," Baranowski said. "I wanted to let him take it out early (today), see what happened and then pick away with surges around the 2K mark.
"Being sectional champ really lifts me up going into the regional."
So, is Rigoni on your level?
"He's just been running great and improving a lot. It's kinda cool having a (rivalry) thing going so he can push me," Baranowski said.
Munster took team honors, 29-44 over L.C., with Brooks Platt (4th), Tom Bolanowski (5th), Steve Gehrig (8th) and Steven Burgwald (10th) following Rigoni for the Mustangs.