PORTER TOWNSHIP | After you. No, I insist, you first.
It wasn't quite rock, paper, scissors in the stretch run of Tuesday's Porter County Conference boys championship race at Boone Grove, but Morgan Township's Alec Kostelnik and Ben Savage sure seemed to spend the final meters deciding who was going to win.
"He always lets me win," Kostelnik said after crossing a blink in front of Savage in 16:39. "I don't even try. He won't take the win."
The duo separated themselves from Boone's Jon Hogg about mid-race and cruised to the 1-2 finish, leading the Cherokees to their first PCC meet title.
"I respect Alec a lot. If it wasn't for him, I couldn't have done this," said Savage, a freshman. "If he wanted to beat me by a mile, he could have, but he's nice enough to run with me. He carried me through."
Kostelnik defended his title and was also the mental attitude award recipient.
"We figured someone would take it out hard," he said, referring to Hanover Central's Nick Zak. "We just wanted to get through the mile in 5:15 and we executed perfectly. We do training runs side-by-side and whenever you work together, you feel a lot more comfortable."
Morgan had Logan Redmon (sixth), Kyle Osborne (10th) and Chris Dupre (13th) all earn all-conference honors as it distanced itself from two-time defending champion Hebron, 32-77.
Osborne and Dupre both posted personal bests.
"We've been doing a lot of pack running all year, and (this) was the day to put everything together," Cherokees coach Mike Grennes said. "Alec and Ben have been stellar all year. They're great runners, smart runners.
"Logan's been a solid 3. He had some cramps but fought through it. Kyle and Chris ran really well. We've been working to get them closer and this is a step in the right direction."
Hebron's girls won for the sixth time in seven years, topping Boone, 30-59, behind the trio of Payton Schatz (second), Abby Getautas (third) and Lexie Schatz (fifth).
"They were right where I told them they needed to be," Hawks coach Mike DeFries said. "I believe they should be there all the time. We're still training really hard. We know if we're going to have any shot at the sectional and regional, we're going to have to be on top of our game."
Hebron's seven all made all-conference (top 15) with two spots to spare. DeFries' daughter Emily took ninth, capping a career in which she was all-PCC every year since sixth grade.
"This is the race she wanted more than any," coach DeFries said. "She kept saying, 'I made it, I made it.'"
South Central's Kyleigh Werner led nearly start to finish in winning with a course-best time of 19:21 -- 1:12 ahead of Schatz.
"I didn't really assume anything," Werner said. "The beginning's always kind of crazy. Somebody always takes off. I just wanted to settle in and get in good position.
"I'm more focused on the sectional race, making it to the regional, but it feels good (to win), even more to improve from my freshman to sophomore year."
Taylor Guse of LaCrosse was the mental attitude award winner.