Twenty-five years of doing this and some things never change.
Like the fact that pen and paper don't work well when it rains.
That was the issue Saturday when the wet weather rolled into New Carlisle, throwing a monkey wrench into latter stages of the New Prairie Cross Country Invitational.
The boys AAA race was delayed an hour for lightning, even though 99 of the 100 people I talked to said they never saw anything. Then again, I guess if I had more than 1,000 people out in the open on my school grounds, I wouldn't take any chances either.
The wait didn't hinder Chesterton's boys, who proved they're still going to be right in the mix for the semistate title come late October by edging South Bend St. Joseph's and getting the best of LaPorte and Valparaiso. The Trojans' score of 115 also showed that the race is wide open, with several teams in the picture. The Slicers may be the best when they're at their best, but they have to have everybody clicking, which they didn't Saturday.
Other thoughts ...
* It was a little surprising to see that the Valpo girls' title was their first since 2005. The perennial state contender looks like the team to beat up north. They have a frontrunner in Katelyn DeVries and a solid group behind her. And the green-and-black striped warm-up shorts are a nice touch.
"She got them for us," DeVries said of her mom/coach Karen.
* While most small schools struggle to field a complete team, Hebron has an embarrassment of riches. Both Hawks squads are largely underclassmen, the boys were one-point runners-up to Beecher (Ill.), the girls won the title, and there's more help on the way for coach Mike DeFries with 60 kids in the middle school program.
"Jordan (Hanaway is) going to be the first No. 1 (runner) I lose," DeFries said. "We've always had somebody to take over. There's only one senior in our (boys) top seven and we've got an eighth-grader to fill that spot, so we'll just keep reloading."
Hebron has a good chance to get both teams to semistate, with Hanaway and Jasen Egolf holding individual state aspirations.
* How about all the freshman girls talent? LaPorte's Elena Lancioni, Hobart's Celena Guerrero and Portage's Paige Pizer were all in the top 10 in the AAA race.
* A few years ago, I noted after the invitational how far Portage had fallen. At the time, I told boys coach Tom Erickson that I'd be the first to acknowledge the program when he got it back on track.
Well, he has, so I am. The Indians have emerged as one of the top teams in the area beyond the big three of Chesterton, Valpo and LaPorte. Former coach Bill Wilke is assuredly proud of his former runner.
* Last but not least, when you're hosting one of the largest cross country meets in the state, shouldn't you make sure your copy machine is in working order? There was a lengthy delay in results being printed because of a toner problem with the copier. D'oh!
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.