CROWN POINT — Hobart’s top two runners for years have been senior twin sisters Christina and Holly Shaginaw. But the team took home fourth at the Crown Point regional with big help from two newcomers to the sport.
Freshman Sydney Belk and senior Elena Polizotto had big races despite wet conditions at Lemon Lake County Park. Both finished with personal records at 20:05.94 (ninth) and 21:24.95 (24th). Despite their success this season and at the regional, the pair said they feel like they’re still learning.
“I just run with the Shaginaws,” Belk said with a laugh. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
The top five teams advanced to the semistate. Lowell finished first, Crown Point took second, Lake Central came in third and Munster was fifth.
Polizotto, who also plays soccer, said that she didn’t expect this success coming into the season.
“I just came into it thinking, 'Well I’ll just give it a shot, let’s just see what happens,’” she said. “And then in workouts I was with the Shaginaws and Syd, and they just pushed me to be a better athlete. At the meets, it’s all mental. It’s just who you’re running with and you’ve got to stick with them.”
And with big improvements despite the conditions at the regional, the two each said they’re optimistic heading into next week.
“It feels nice going into semistate knowing that I can run faster,” Belk said.
“It was an awesome shock because we both didn’t expect to run as well as we did because this course is so horrible,” Polizotto added. “For both of us it’s a good confidence boost going into New Prairie.”
Holly Shaginaw finished sixth (19:47.22) and Christina Shaginaw finished 11th (20:31.22) for Hobart. Paige Solivais (36th, 22:04.49) was Hobart's fifth runner.
Highland advanced two individual runners to the semistate meet next week. But it wasn’t an easy road for coach Rob Lukowski’s girls.
Junior Grace Aurand has been the top Trojans runner all season, but health put her ability to advance at risk.
“Grace Aurand has been battling a respiratory infection for four weeks, so I’m really proud of her effort,” Lukowski said.
Sophomore Miranda Bates didn’t even start running with the team until the end of the summer, but she’s improved tremendously over the course of the season.
“(Bates) didn’t really have a summer, which if you know anything about the sport, the season is made in June and July, and she really didn’t have a June and July,” Lukowski said. “She’s really, really impressed me the last month.”
Aurand finished 10th at 20:18.39, and Bates finished 32nd at 21:47.82.
They were two of the 10 individuals not on advancing teams to qualify for semistate.
The pair lead a young team with lots of potential going forward.
“My freshman girls, which I have four of, they’re so exciting to watch because every week it’s something new for them being rookies,” Lukowski said. “I’ve been really pleased with their effort.”
Postseason races bring with them the end of seasons for many, and even the end of careers. That brings about a spectrum of emotions, all of which were on display at the Crown Point Regional.
For Gavit, there were hopes to advance at least one runner, but senior Dawn Pawlak fell just outside the individual qualifiers in 51st (23:12.62). Before results were posted she said with a laugh she would “probably cry” if she didn’t move on.
But she and fellow senior Marissa Moon also talked of their pride in getting this far. Pawlak reached regionals all four high school years and Moon has made it the last three.
“I’m kind of sad,” Moon said. “But I also know that as a team, before last year, not a lot of people (from Gavit) went to regionals. Just seeing everybody here right now, I’m just really proud.”
Moon was 63rd at 23:46.21 and sophomore Mia Lacey finished 84th at 28:18.11.