HAMMOND | It's gotta be the shoes.
For Wheeler senior Kyle Nurse, it was a matter of actually remembering to bring his bright-blue Nike cleats to Saturday's Gavit Invitational. For Griffith junior Taylor Austin, her black and yellow Brooks needed to stay laced up and wrapped around her foot tighter than a 4-year-old around his favorite teddy bear.
After sliding around in sneakers last week, Nurse got a grip and took first in the Division A 5,000 meter race around Dowling Park with a time of 17 minutes, 26 seconds.
Austin and her triple-knotted kicks beat the competition by more than a minute at 20:19.
Nurse's teammates backed him up as well, with Wheeler grabbing first.
Griffith wasn't so fortunate falling to fourth place, as Hebron took first.
"I definitely wanted to step up big time," Nurse said. "I definitely let my team down by forgetting my spikes last week. I was sliding all over. It made a big difference."
In the second half of the day's races, Hobart pulled an upset over Lowell and Portage with a low score of 42 in the Division AA boys race. Lake Central dominated with 27 points on the girls' side.
Hobart's Brent Dunn led the pack at 16:45.
"I went to bed at about two after a church group movie night, so I was pretty tired, but once it started, I just wanted to go," Dunn said. "I got the energy somewhere."
The time was a personal best for the Hobart sophomore.
"It's really good, because I trained pretty hard this summer," Dunn said. "I'm just glad there are results."
Lake Central's Shelby Carroll, who finished first in the girls AA race at 20:05, was impressed by the results her team produced.
"I went in with the mindset that I really wanted to start the season off with a great race, but I knew it was going to be difficult," Carroll said. "It was great knowing that two freshmen in their first high school meets ever were up there racing together. It's inspiring to know that our team is already so strong."