ST. JOHN | Appropriately enough, the Lake Central girls’ and boys’ cross country teams captured first- and second-place finishes Saturday morning in the inaugural Rudy Skorupa Invitational.
The meet is named after the recently-retired Lake Central boys’ cross country coach, who led the Indians for 40 years. Of course, when someone has been so active for so long, the word 'retired' must be used lightly.
“I’m just as busy now as I ever was, I’m just doing different things now,” Skorupa said, laughing about all the housework that piled up during his four decades of coaching. “Of course, I still have interest in the sport, so I come out and lend a helping hand however I can.”
Skorupa served as a meet official, helping the crew and Lake Central staff with timing. Despite the fact he was working as hard as anyone, he admitted that having the meet named after him meant a lot.
“It is an honor to have them consider what you had done worthy of having an event named after you,” Skorupa said.
The course was muddy from Friday night’s storms and intermittent rain in the morning, but well-marked lines and a tight schedule kept the meet running smoothly.
Lake Central took first place on the girls’ side with 29 points, led by second-place finisher Sarah Hunsley.
“It’s really a nice start,” Lake Central coach Karen Arehart said. “They’ve been working hard. It’s nice to come out on the first race, whether it’s here or anywhere else, and get a good start, a good-jumping off point for the season.”
Portage finished in second place with 46 points and Hobart was third with 77. Brickies senior Mindy Whidden was the top individual finisher at 20:18.
In the boys’ race, Lake Central finished second with 43 points, outpaced only by Munster’s 36. Mustangs senior Tom Bolanowski finished first overall at 16:58 and junior Ryan Kritzer took second place a second later. Lake Central placed three runners in the top six, led by third-place finisher Zach Hupp.
“All three of our top guys are sophomores,” Lake Central coach Jeff Rhody said. “These guys are learning how to really train for the first time in their lives and they’re buying in and they’re doing a great job.”
Both of the Lake Central coaches were glad the Indians put together a good meet in honor of Skorupa.
"I know they wanted to do well and have a good showing for Coach Skorupa," Arehart said. "Obviously, he’s sticking around a little bit and stopping by every once in a while. It’s nice to have him still supporting to program, which I’m sure he will until forever.”