NEW PRAIRIE | What elaborate pre-race preparation did Kyleigh Werner go through Friday to get ready for the New Prairie Invitational?
The South Central sophomore made chocolate chip cookies.
Werner certainly earned a post-race treat Saturday after running to a 31-second victory in the Class A division of the New Prairie Invitational. She crossed the finish line in 19:16.1, an improvement of over 40 seconds from last season.
"I came in mentally strong, that was a key for sure," Werner said. "I had to start out strong with the mass of people, then I was focusing on making sure I hit my times at the Ks, being where I needed to be, where I wanted to be."
Freshman teammate Hope Myroup followed Werner in fourth.
"It's nice in practice to have somebody at the same pace," Werner said.
Hebron breezed to its third team title in six years with 67 points. Bremen was second at 159.
"This is as close to a small school state meet as we get," coach Mike DeFries said. "The thing I like seeing is the times coming down. We know we can pack well. Sectional and regional, we're going to have to have a couple up front and hopefully take another 30 seconds off."
Lexie Schatz (sixth, 20:26) led the Hawks, followed by sister Payton (eighth, 20:30) and Emily DeFries (14th, 21:06). All their times were personal bests.
"That's what we need," coach DeFries said. "Payton just keeps moving up. She was our No. 7, No. 6 and now Lexie and her are pretty much our 1-2, with Emily three."
Defending state champion Ashley Erba of Warsaw lost in the AAA race to Mishawaka's Anna Rohrer, whose time of 17:14.1 shattered the course record by 40 seconds. LaPorte's Elena Lancioni was the top local finisher, placing seventh.
"The first half was real fast. I knew it would be," Lancioni said. "I was prepared for a really hard race. I had to dig deep. I didn't care if I passed out or threw up, as long as I ran a hard race. I've got to break that 18:39 hump. That's the third time I've run an 18:39 here."
After the omission of a Valpo runner in the scoring, results was were recalculated and the Vikings (178) placed third behind Eastern (76) and Northridge (160).
"We talked about knowing our competition," coach Boomer Nellessen said. "The girls were starting to feel a little slighted, so they wanted to go out there and show that, hey, they belong with everybody else."
Valpo had four girls running New Prairie for the first time.
"The most important thing was getting the experience of a large race," Nellessen said. "We realize sometimes they have to take their lumps and learn on their own. They didn't get out very well and now they have a much better handle on what they have to do next time."
Chesterton came in fifth at 193.
"We needed a race like this to start building some confidence," coach Brian Carden said. "We don't have a superstar individual, but we have a nice pack. Now we need to have it move up closer."