NEW CARLISLE | Right after finishing the Class AA race in Saturday's New Prairie Invitational, Taylor Austin headed to the nearby trainer's table.
Cellophane secured ice bags to the Griffith junior's aching hips, an issue Austin has dealt with since last season.
"It's because I'm growing," she said. "I know I can go so much faster, but it hurts so bad, my legs won't let me go fast. Midway up the hill. I was cramping up and girls were passing me.
"I'm hoping it gets better."
Austin surged to the front at the starting gun and maintained control into the woods before settling for sixth, the top finish among local runners in her division.
LaPorte's Elena Lancioni paced area girls in Class AAA, crossing fourth in 18:46.6 -- 28.5 seconds behind Warsaw's Ashley Erbe.
"We all have our bad days," Lancioni said. "I'm a little disappointed. I knew I could have caught those girls, but mentally, I lost it. I just have to learn from my mistake and work on being better mentally."
Valpo freshman Alison Mundell came in seventh.
In the A race, South Central freshman Kyleigh Werner exceeded her expectations in her first sojourn around the New Prairie course. Werner crossed in a school-record time of 20:00.8, good enough for fourth, just ahead of Kouts' Tara Hamstra.
It was enough to bring happy tears to the eyes of her coach -- and mom -- Rachel Werner.
"I was hoping to get into the 20s," Werner said after a post-race cellphone chat with her dad. I didn't have a place in mind. I was trying to see in my mind when I needed to push. I always try to make my move on the hills.
"It makes me feel really good about myself, achieving one of my goals."
Hebron finished third or better in the dvision for the fifth year in a row, posting 103 to check in second behind Tri-County (71) in Class A.
"I'm happy with No. 2," coach Mike DeFries said. "I'm always afraid of peaking here. The first time we won, our times got worse. We're really young. A freshman was our No. 1, No. 3 and No. 6. The times are interchageable. They're all bunched together."
The Hawks' standing was the best among region schools. Improving Chesterton topped the full contingent of Duneland Athletic Conference squads in Class AAA, claiming fourth with 145. Carroll (Fort Wayne) captured first, scoring 102.