JIM PETERS: Runners hope to 'carpe diem' at state cross country finals

2011-10-27T19:00:00Z 2011-10-28T02:10:05Z JIM PETERS: Runners hope to 'carpe diem' at state cross country finalsBy Jim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 27, 2011 7:00 pm  • 

Thankfully, Latin was no longer a requirement by the time I became an altar boy at St. Bridget's ages ago.

A couple of words I did pick up along the way were "carpe diem," translated as "seize the day."

That's what runners will try to do Saturday when they toe the line at the state cross country finals in Terre Haute.

The goals are many and as wide-ranging as the Lavern Gibson Championship Course.

Top five, 15, 25, improve on a previous finish. Some like Chesterton coach Tim Ray, as the saying goes, are just happy to be there.

"Whatever happens, I'll be fine with it," Ray said.

The stakes are higher for LaPorte's Mitch Hubner. The region's undisputed top runner this season, he's looking for a top five finish. Hubner, who was 10th last year, knows winning is likely out of the question with North Central's Futsum Zeinasellassie on the brink of his third title.

"If I get up to the final stretch and I can see Futsum, that'll make my day," Hubner said.

Valparaiso's boys are the best hope for a region team medalist (top five).

"There are a lot of good Indianapolis-area teams and teams from other parts of the state that we've competed with all year," Vikings coach Mike Prow said. "I like our chances. The start is three times as wide. All seven guys can run in a pack. There's a lot of room."

Prow also will turn his top trio of Ari Coulopoulos, Ahmad Aljobeh and Peyton Reed free to make their own pushes. Under the right circumstances, all could finish in the top 25.

Valpo will have three girls running in their fourth state meet with Katelyn DeVries, Lauren Bigger and Tricia Joll. Getting there was no sure thing for any of them due to injuries.

"First of all, we're just thankful to be able to go and compete," Vikings coach Karen DeVries said. "We have certain goals as a team and Lord willing, we'll feel good and be able to compete with some of the better teams. You never know when everybody gets on the line."

No matter how many times a runner or team have — or haven't — been there, it's a special experience.

Hobart's trip, the boys' first in nearly 40 years, might be the local story of the year in the sport.

Like Valpo's trio, Crown Point's Lauren McCarroll, Portage's Abby Trader and Lake Central's Shelby Carroll will complete four-for-fours.

C.P.'s girls made it back for the fourth straight time despite having to replace three seniors in its top five.

Morgan Township's Alec Kostelnik will carry the torch for the small schools.

Griffith's Taylor Austin returns after qualifying as a freshman, then missing as a sophomore. Andrean's Becca Conley is in the field after two near misses.

"I'm just really excited," Conley said. "I've seen the course. Now I get to run on it."

It's not a happy ending for everybody. Hobart's Celena Guerrero, an all-stater as a freshman, couldn't overcome injuries that held her back this season. She put her face in the race at semistate but couldn't sustain the pace, staggering down the stretch, barely able to finish under her own power.

It's a striking reminder to everybody. There are no guarantees. Make the most of it.

Seize the day.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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