TERRE HAUTE | The heel is worn away. So is the big toe.
But no matter how ragged and torn they were, Boone Grove's Jordan Chester wasn't going to put her feet into anything else for Saturday's state meet.
"They're my lucky socks," Chester said. "I've had them since my freshman year. I've worn them every race all four years."
Those socks have logged many miles and been on many awards stands, like the one Chester climbed at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course for the third time in her prep career following her 10th-place finish.
"I wanted top five, but I can't be disappointed," Chester said. "I just wanted a medal. That was my main concern. I wanted to run as hard as I could and know at the end that I didn't have anything left, and that was the case."
Chester checked in at 18 minutes, 44.3 seconds, about one second off the time she ran as a sophomore, when she placed eighth. She finished 14th last year and 16th as a freshman.
"It's a great way for her to go out her senior year, running in the state meet and placing in the state meet," Boone Grove coach Trish Kloth said. "She's accomplished so much, the way she's brought the team together. She's just a great kid. The way she presents her is amazing for somebody her age. It's going to be sad to see her go."
A strong head wind didn't deter Chester from pushing the early pace, as she led the field in the opening stretch. Winner Waverly Neer of Culver Academy and Bloomington South's Sarah Bennett eventually took over, though they never left Chester's sight.
"I just wanted to stay with the lead pack as long as I could," Chester said. "I couldn't drop back or I would've doomed myself. The wind was just terrible. My legs felt tight at the end, probably from how fast I went out, but I knew it was my last year and I wanted to give it my all. I pushed as hard as I could to the finish."
Chester led four Northwest Indiana runners in the top 25, and she wasn't the only one with a sock story. Crown Point's Laicee Pierce, who came in 14th (18:49.4), forgot her socks at last year's semistate, when she borrowed a pair from teammate Jessica Tylicki.
"I finished third and now I wear them in all the big meets," Pierce said. "I'm going to wear them until they fall apart."
Third last year at state, Pierce played catch-up much of the season from a stress fracture.
"I told myself top 15, so I'm happy with how I did," Pierce said. "It was a hard race, definitely harder than last year. I tried to stay up as best I could and when I felt myself falling off, I told myself to do it for the team. The last 400 killed me."
Hobart freshman Celena Guerrero took 20th in 18:56.8, second among ninth graders.
"I'm very happy," Guerrero said. "I wasn't sure I could get that. I surprised myself. (LaPorte's Elena Lancioni, 28th) has always been beating me, so I was just hoping to stay behind her. I was just feeling good."
Valparaiso's Erica Wirsing, competing in her first state meet, placed 25th, the final all-state spot.
"I couldn't ask for anything better of myself," Wirsing said. "It's bittersweet, because it's my first state meet and my last state meet. I didn't save anything. I just kept running like I usually do. I'm so glad it all came together."