CROWN POINT | Keep the caramel lattes coming.
Fueled by the McDonald's beverage that he drinks on a regular basis, Valparaiso's Taylor Bisacchi won Saturday's Duneland Athletic Conference Championship at Lemon Lake Park, leading the Vikings to a decisive team title with 24 points.
Host Crown Point was second at 65.
"It was hard fought, that's the first thing," Bisacchi said. "I didn't know if Anthony (Didion of LaPorte) was going to surge harder. I just gave it everything the last K. Straight downhill is a great point to move in a race.
"Individually, I'm pretty happy, but it means the team's better, and that's all that matters. We had a great 1-2-4."
Bisacchi came in at 16:13, five seconds in front of teammate and defending champion Ari Coulopoulos.
"Taylor's been a lot more consistent with his overall running," Valpo coach Mike Prow said. "He's always had some holes in his training that have always kept him from doing what he's doing now. You want to go to that starting line knowing you're ready, that there wasn't anything else you could've done.
"This is going to be a big boost for him, not just winning, but being No. 1 on his team. It tells him how good he is."
Peyton Reed took fourth and first-year runner Andrew Lyp sixth as Valpo put six in the top 12 (all-conference).
"Ari had a great race," Prow said. "Andrew Lyp, what a breakout race for him. He's strong and we told him this course is for you. Not all the guys ran their best but they kept battling and it helps to know the other guys are there to you pick you up.
"This is our best seven guys since the '05 team. We know we're putting seven guys out there who can do it and we've got some other guys dying to get in there."
The Valpo girls defended team honors, doing so with a first-year coach (Boomer Nellessen) and a cast of freshmen and sophomores. The Vikings topped Chesterton, 42-52.
"It means the girls are continuing the tradition that was started a long time ago," Nellessen said. "It's great to win, being a new coach, but especially for the four new girls.
"It's more about what they accomplished as a group. They wanted to come out and show what they can do as a team, prove that they're still Valpo. It's all about being prepared and they were prepared going in."
Valpo was led by runner-up Alison Mundell, who crossed in 19:59, 41 seconds behind LaPorte's Elena Lancioni. Aurora Bonner took fourth and freshman Ellie Joll fifth for the Vikings.
"It's very exciting," Mundell said. "We've been working towards this all year. We wanted to be the best and I'm glad we could do it. Elena had a great day. I knew I wasn't going to be able to catch her so I just did the best I could."
Lancioni didn't let an early-race rabbit alter her approach. The repeat winner took control in the woods and never looked back.
"I was like, 'Oh my God, I don't know who the heck that is,'" Lancioni said. "I heard someone say it was like her second race, so I took that into account. I knew I would catch her.
"I never ran here before. I knew it was a slow course, so I wasn't worried about my time, just going out and running a good race."