RENSSELAER | Imprinted on the back of Valparaiso’s boys team warm-up shirts is the mantra, “Together as One.”
The Vikings lived up to it Saturday at the 38th annual Rensselaer Invitational, winning each grade level in the unique event. Valpo won each Division I team title in grades nine through 12, as Viking runners won two of the four races.
“This is the year to get it done at state, so we’re working toward that," Valpo senior Jordan Galligan, who won the 12th-grade race in 16:54. "We’ve got a lot of good goals.”
Also taking first for the Vikings was freshman Danny Dalton, who toured the 5K course in 17:04. Valpo captured an impressive seven of the top 10 spots in the frosh race.
Crown Point’s Jacob Lanbehn won the sophomore race in 17:16, while Hanover’s Nick Zak was second and Valpo’s Zach Kroll third.
Merrillville’s Tyler Gray broke through Valpo’s pack of runners to win the 11th-grade race in 16:48, just ahead of the Vikings’ Andrew Jankowski in second and Cory Alfredson in third.
“I was just hanging with them for a bit and then took off,” Gray said. “It’s my first win, so it felt good.”
West Side took second in Div. I 12th-grade, while Merrillville took second in the 11th grade. LaCrosse won the Div. II 11th-grade title, and Rensselaer was second.
Crown Point was runner-up in the 10th-grade team scoring, and. Hanover won the Div. II team title.
In the girls races, Merrillville’s Victoria Collins was the highest area finisher in the combined 11-12 event, placing fourth in 21:15.
“I feel like my teammates really pushed me,” Collins said. “I was running with my friend, Megan Vinson, for the first two miles, and I felt she really pushed me. I’m really happy about that.”
Boone Grove’s Sarah Steinhillor was fifth, and Vinson eighth.
West Side won the 11-12 team title by virtue of having the only team with five runners.
South Central’s Kyleigh Werner won the 9-10 combined race in 19:53, just ahead of teammate Hope Myroup.
Merrillville and Rensselaer won the respective team titles.