CHESTERTON | When Portage last won a girls track sectional in 1995, most of the team wasn't even born.
The Indians ended an 18-year drought Tuesday, scoring 18 points in the shot put to overcome two-time defending champion Chesterton, 134-130.
"We knew it was close, but we didn't know if we'd actually be able to pull it off," said Portage thrower Ashley Sosbe, who won the discus and took second to teammate Tara Kostelnik in the shot with a pair of personal bests. "We've been trying to beat (Chesterton and Valpo) all year, so to beat them out in this meet, it's awesome. It's great to see all the hard work pay off."
Portage, which lost handily to Chesterton in their dual, won a pair of relays. Paige Pizer, the 800 champ in 2:21.94, ran on the 3,200 relay (9;49.48), and long jump winner Jade McKnight (17-4) was part of the 400 relay (50.07). McKnight had to scratch in the 200 finals after straining her knee in the long jump, adding to the late-meet suspense.
"Shot and disc were huge. The field events have been coming through all year," Portage coach Earl Coleman said. "It was a whole team effort. I don't want to leave anybody out. The girls have confidence in themselves. They know they can compete. They've gone out and done it all year. I'm excited for them. The seniors get to go out with a nice win."
While Portage stole the team show, the individual spotlight was shared by Chesterton's Jordyn Kincy, Valparaiso's Kassidy Swenson and LaPorte's Elena Lancioni, all double winners.
Lancioni comfortably took the 1,600 (5:11.28) and 3,200 (11:36.62), while Swenson dominated the hurdles. She posted a 14.9 in the 100s, winning by 1.38 seconds, and crushed the 2007 meet record of Valpo's Megan Steiner in the 300s by nearly a second, clocking 44.69.
"I like running in warmer weather," Swenson said. "I wasn't expecting (a record) at all. I had no idea. I was pretty surprised and excited to hear it. It's a pretty gratifying feeling. I ran pretty smoothly. I just got rid of all my thoughts and ran my race, and it worked out pretty well."
Despite her double victory, Kincy's day ended bittersweet as she eased up in the 200 due to cramps in her hips and calves, and finished seventh.
"I tried to run flat-footed because running on my toes made it cramp more," Kincy said. "It's very upsetting because my plan was to go to state in the 200. I had a good chance. I really love the 200. It was a good day until that race."
Kincy edged Michigan City's Jasmine McLemore in the 100, 12.75-12.83, then came close to a meet record in the 400 with a 58.33. McLemore was second again.
"I had to fight for (the 100)," Kincy said. "I had a really good 400. I was able to kick it in more towards the 150."