NEW CARLISLE | The bubble that burst on Munster and Crown Point at last year's New Prairie Semistate claimed another victim Saturday.
This time, it was LaPorte that was left with its nose pressed against the window, on the outside looking in.
In an ironic twist of fortune, the Mustangs, who finished one point out of the money in seventh place in 2012, took sixth place this time, one point ahead of LaPorte, 181-182.
"We're fortunate we were able to sneak in," Munster coach Aaron Brown said, his heart still pounding. "We didn't run very well, except for Ryan Kritzer."
Kritzer's fourth-place finish pulled Munster through.
"It's a relief, being on the opposite end last year," Kritzer said. "I wanted to latch on to the top guys and try to stay with them. I felt good and I just kept going. We knew it would be close. I'm just happy we made it."
So was C.P. coach Keith Ididngs, whose Bulldogs were one point behind Munster last year. There was no such drama for Crown Point, which placed fourth (141). Tyler Gray finished ninth and Ryan Kepshire 16th.
"This semistate is so balanced with high competition, if you're not 'on' on this day, it's going to beat you," Iddings said. "We knew every point was extremely important. The kids ran a really smart race. They executed our strategy really well. They came through in a huge way."
Valparaiso was the top area team, finishing third (128) behind West Lafayette (89) and Warsaw (108). Ari Coulopoulos led the Vikings in sixth.
"We had a great start, which is the one thing we wanted to get ready for, for (state) because that hurt us last year," Vikings coach Mike Prow said. "We wanted to win. We want to every single one. People were passing us, but (state) is the only thing that matters. We'll take our chances that it will pay off big for us."
Lake Central also qualified, placing fifth with 161. Zach Hupp (15th) paced the Indians with Tyler Kramer-Stephens 20th.
"This is what we've been pointing at all year long and the kids ran a great race," coach Jeff Rhody said. "We've been back and forth with LaPorte all year, so it was whoever came to race today. I couldn't be more proud."
The joy of finishing second was erased by his team's disappointment for LaPorte's Anthony Didion, who was edged by Warsaw's Ellis Coon, 15:45.5-15:46.6.
"I was just trying to stay as far in the pack as I could but high enough where I was confident I could out-kick everyone," Didion said. "My goal was to have a smarter race. I'm glad how it worked out. I wouldn't want to lose to anybody but (Coon). He's a great guy."
Lowell's Brian Blaylock also qualified individually, crossing fifth in 15:57.6 after leading the race for the better part of 4 K.
"It was crazy. Awesome," Blaylock said. "At the end, everybody opened up. I wish I could re-do the last 1,000. I still had a good amount left. I don't know what happened. I really wanted to break 16 (minutes) and finish in the top three."
Hobart's Brent Dunn and Bishop Noll's Sal Cordova rounded out the local runners to advance. Mitch Wilborn of Chesterton missed the cutoff by 0.3 seconds.