CROWN POINT | Griffith senior Taylor Austin adapted to the rain-soaked Lemon Lake Park cross country course at Saturday’s Crown Point Regional, but it wasn’t easy.
“I just tried not to think about it and kept running,” said Austin, after finishing in 19 minutes and 23 seconds to take individual honors in the girls race. “I couldn’t feel my arms, and my legs were numb. My feet were tingling. I had to sit down right after the finish.
“My whole body was frozen.”
Undaunted, Austin built a comfortable lead on Hobart’s Mindy Whidden and Celina Guerrero at the 1-mile marker and held on. Whidden and Guerrero took second and third, respectively.
“I want to try to get top five next weekend,” Austin said. “That’s my goal.”
Lake Central toughed out the conditions and put five runners among the top 16 spots to take the team title with 43 points to Hebron’s 77.
“They came to race today,” L.C. coach Ann Downey said. “Two weeks ago at the DAC we showed up, but we didn’t race. Today, we showed up, and we raced.”
Megan Zajac placed fifth to pace L.C., and Sarah Hudi was seventh.
“The kids wanted to prove something to themselves, and they did,” Downey said. “And here we are -- regional champs.”
The top 15 individuals and the top 5 teams advance to next Saturday’s New Prairie Semistate.
Hobart finished third, followed by Munster and Crown Point.
Lowell’s Kyle Eller ran a fast race in the steady rain against a strong field and won the boys race in 16:08, just 15 seconds ahead of Munster’s Tom Bolanowski. Lowell’s Brian Blaylock was third, and C.P.’s Alex Ray fourth.
“This was my best time on this course, so I wanted to push it a little more,” Eller said. “This is my last regional, but I just thank God that I was able to go through with it.”
Bolanowski took an early lead, and then just tried to hang with the surging Eller.
“I lost him for a little bit and couldn’t make up the ground on him,” Bolanowski said.
C.P.’s Tom Cierniak was fifth and Daniel Walters 11th to help lead the Dogs to the team title 59-79 over runner-up Hobart. Munster was third, followed by Lowell and L.C.
“The guys ran so well today,” Bulldogs coach Keith Iddings said. “It was a phenomenal effort by all of them. Our number four and five runners were right together, right where we needed them to be, and our top three, as they have all season, led the way.”
It was the 'Dogs first regional title since 2004.
“The weather wasn’t perfect, but for us today I guess this was perfect,” Iddings said.