LIBERTY TOWNSHIP | A season clouded in doubt is gaining clarity for Katelyn DeVries.
The Valparaiso senior, whose year was put in limbo by a fractured foot in the summer, continued her march back to the top in Tuesday's Chesterton Sectional.
"At the beginning of the season, we thought this was going to be my first race," DeVries said after capturing her third individual title in a time of 18 minutes, 45.8 seconds. "It's been a long process. I'm feeling better every single race. I'm not 100 percent, but I'm definitely a lot better. I was hoping for a win, and I got it."
A friendly face hung with DeVries most of the way. Freshman Alison Mundell, Valpo's heir apparent to DeVries, finished second in 19:08, besting LaPorte's Elena Lancioni for the first time.
"I really liked running with both of them," Mundell said. "I was trying to stay with Katelyn and Elena as long as I could. I was really happy with my time."
The 1-2 finish powered defending champion Valpo to the team crown with 30 points, half of runner-up Portage (60).
"They've been good for each other," Valpo coach Karen DeVries said of her daughter and Mundell. "It's a bonus for both of them. Alison's still learning how to race, how to have a better finish. I think Katelyn's experience, her background, is what's carrying her at this point. It's nice to see all three seniors (DeVries, Tricia Joll and Lauren Bigger) out there. They're really determined. Tricia and Lauren are really keeping that pack together."
Tiffany Fortney took sixth for the Vikings, followed by Bigger (8th) and Joll (13th).
Michigan City's Christine Brennan (11th) and Wheeler's Kelly O'Shea (15th) were individual qualifiers for Saturday's New Prairie Regional.
On the boys side, Valpo claimed its first sectional trophy since 2005, topping LaPorte and Chesterton, 49-57-64.
"Better, but we're still having guys running separately," Vikings coach Mike Prow said. "We had some good times, but they didn't look great running by themselves. We didn't finish well, either, but that will come with a little more rest. Landon (Davison) really stepped up. If he was back where he usually is, we probably (would) lose."
Davison was the Vikings' third finisher, crossing eighth overall. Ari Coulopoulos (16:02) was runner-up to LaPorte's Mitch Hubner, with Peyton Reed fourth (16:15), behind Tyler Rusboldt of Chesterton.
"I didn't feel good compared to (conference), but I don't want to make excuses," Coulopoulos said. "I just have to do better next time. This was definitely more of a meet where you didn't go for individual stuff. You just have to make it out."
Despite slipping and falling, Hubner (15:41) handily defended his top spot, running nine seconds faster than last season's winning time. He pulled away around the midpoint of the race on his way to a 21-second victory.
"I knew if I ran my best, do what I need to do, I could beat (Coulopoulos)," Hubner said. "You never really say, 'I'm going to go at this point.' It just happens. Your body feels good, and you just go."
Wheeler's Kyle Nurse (ninth) advanced individually.