TERRE HAUTE | Valparaiso's sixth-place finish in Saturday's girls state cross country meet was the best showing among region teams in either race.
That was little solace to Vikings coach Karen DeVries, who was hoping for a place on the awards stand.
"It's disappointing in many factors," DeVries said. "As much as you try to make sure they're ready to go, it comes down to what they want. They've worked so hard. I wanted them to make that stand. We really are a top five team. But you need them all. You can't have just a couple do well. That's what makes the sport so special. It's a team effort."
Erica Wirsing (25th) made all-state and Tiffany Fortney (29th) was also solid, but Katelyn DeVries struggled by her standards, coming in 32nd.
"Once it's there, you can't rest your body, so you stay run down," coach DeVries said of her daughter's bouts with bronchitis. "It's so frustrating because you only get so many shots at it. She trained way better than last year, when she got fourth. God willing we'll be back and will improve on how we did."
DeVries was "thrilled to death" for Wirsing, making her state debut and swan song all in one race.
"I had no previous state meet experience, so I didn't have anything to go on," Wirsing said. "I have mixed feelings because I know the rest of the team isn't feeling too happy."
COMEBACK KID: Crown Point coach Patty Begley credited Laicee Pierce for hanging tough all season while making up for time lost due to a stress fracture in the summer.
"She didn't start until the end of July and that's the month we build our base," Begley said. "She did a great job mentally, coming back. I think staying focused on the team helped her a ton."
C.P. finished right behind Valpo, seventh with 260.
"We had a great showing," Begley said. "I just told them to go out and run your hearts and wherever you fall, we're proud of you. It's so close. There are so many people on the same level. That's all you can control."
WIND SHIELD: A strong head wind greeted runners at the start of the race and again in the final straightaway.
"It was especially hard the last stretch," Wirsing said. "I'm sure all the runners know what I'm talking about."
LaPorte's Mitch Hubner tried to make the conditions work to his benefit.
"Coach (Tim Beres) talked about finding somebody and running behind them," Hubner said. "I tried to use people to pull me all the way through to the finish."
Hobart's Celena Guerrero managed to keep herself in a position where the wind didn't hamper her too much.
"There were always people on the sides," she said.
The wind presented another challenge for runners on the Lavern Gibson Championship Course.
"It was dusty," Valpo boys coach Mike Prow said. "It was blowing in their eyes, it was so dry."
ETC...: Carmel's girls title was its 12th. The Greyhounds and Columbus North traded finishes from last season. Valpo is second in girls championships with five. ... Chesterton's boys, runners-up a year ago, were 20th, followed by Munster (23rd) and Crown Point (24th). ... Lake Central (17th) and Portage (22nd) rounded out the area's girls participants. Both ran six underclassmen, as did Valpo.