LIBERTY TWP. | Valparaiso's boys won the Chesterton Sectional for the fourth year in a row Tuesday.
For Vikings senior Andrew Jankowski, the others didn't compare to this one.
"The last three years, I've been right on the edge of the top seven," Jankowski said. "I've been waiting for my chance to prove myself and I finally did. It feels great to carry on the streak, to keep the Valpo legacy going."
Jankowski, one of four seniors who had not run in a sectional before, crossed third on the slippery Sunset Hill Farm course to lead five Vikings in the top 10. Valpo scored 32 points, 40 ahead of runner-up LaPorte.
"I wanted it so bad for those guys," Valpo coach Mike Prow said. "They've been disrespected across the state, not necessarily around here. It's a bunch of no names, besides Ari (Coulopoulos), and they've come in and done everything we've asked.
"I'm really happy for 'AJ.' He's been in the shadows so long and he's had a breakout year. They packed up beautifully."
In a replay of the Duneland Athletic Conference girls race, LaPorte nipped Portage by a point, 59-60, claiming its first sectional title since 1998. Valpo, which had won the last three sectionals, was third at 69.
"Unbelievable," Slicers coach John Dearing said. "We knew it would be tight. We've been on the right side so far. Portage goes out fast and runs strong as a pack. It's intimidating.
"We keep trying to get our fourth and fifth to stay in the pack with them. This is pretty special for the girls. They're making history here."
Portage put seven in the top 21, but couldn't quite overcome the 1-3 finish of Elena Lancioni and Kailee Schoof -- again.
"We're right there, so close," Indians coach Jay White said. "I don't think we ran great and we were still one point off. I felt good about (conference). I don't feel as good about this one. We'll recharge for a couple days and get back after it in the regional."
Lancioni repeated as champion, making it around in 18:44, 13 seconds in front of New Prairie's Rachel Thompson.
"I had to slow down a lot around the corners and going down the hill," she said. "I knew I wasn't going to run a spectacular time, but it was just good to get a race in after having a week off. I was anxious to run again. (The rain) makes it a fun cross country meet."
Fellow Slicer Anthony Didion, the runner-up last year, topped the boys field in 16:02, 19 ticks faster than New Prairie's David Kampf.
"I literally walked around the turn," Didion said. "I knew it wasn't going to be a fast day, but everybody had to deal with it. I was just going to go with (the leaders) for a mile and then see what the race would give from there.
"I've won so many races, I'm happier to see how far the team has come, from fifth last year to second. None of them have been to the state meet and I just want to get them there."
Michigan City's boys took advantage of the new individual qualifying format. The Wolves finished sixth, but had six runners advance as part of the top 10 that didn't make it to the New Prairie Regional as a team.
South Central's Kyleigh Werner and Wheeler's Joel O'Shea topped those lists, placing sixth and eighth, respectively.