PORTAGE | A bout with bronchitis left Katelyn DeVries a little iffy for Saturday's Duneland Athletic Conference Championship.
About halfway through the race at Woodland Park, it was pretty obvious the Valparaiso junior was feeling just fine.
DeVries broke away from the lead pack and breezed to a 17-second victory, hitting the finish line in 18 minutes, 42 seconds.
"I felt a lot better," DeVries said. "I rested all week. I stayed home a couple days and took it easy. I wasn't sure how my body would take it so I took it easy the first mile and let them lead. About a mile-and-a-half, I was feeling well so I decided to take off."
There was no looking back for DeVries or the Vikings, who reclaimed the team title that they owned for a decade before being edged by Portage last season. Valpo tallied 40 points to runner-up Crown Point's 56.
"Katelyn looked good. She looked smooth. You could see it in her face," Vikings coach Karen DeVries said. "She gets (sick) every year around conference time, during track, too. It's the change in weather. I knew she was a little worried how she'd feel, so I just told her to run what she felt she could do. She still felt pretty bad (Friday), but she felt better warming up."
Tiffany Fortney, Erica Wirsing and Lauren Bigger went 6-8-9 to back DeVries.
"There were some things in the race that we wouldn't have been able to handle last year," coach DeVries said. "It's a different team. They're focused. Their training is where it should be. No matter what the outcome was, I was proud. They raced hard. They raced for each other. They raced as a team."
Valpo's depth overcome C.P.'s lead duo of Laicee Pierce (fourth) and Lauren McCarroll (fifth).
"Our whole pack ran well, faster than they ever have as a team," Bulldogs coach Patty Begley said. "The girls are disappointed being second, but I'm really happy with them. Valpo's the better team. We tried to stay in there. They did everything in their power. That's all I can ask for."
LaPorte's Elena Lancioni continued her impressive freshman season, finishing second to DeVries in 18:59. Lake Central's Shelby Carroll was third.
"I'm happy with finishing second, but not totally happy," Lancioni said. "It's good for running against some of the top contenders in the state. I've done a lot better than I thought I could."