PORTAGE — Having gone undefeated in Duneland Athletic Conference duals and winning the conference and sectional meets, Crown Point looked prime to end its 19-year regional drought.
After multiple lightning delays, C.P. eventually did just that, winning the school's second girls track regional title with 108 points Tuesday at the Portage Regional.
Merrillville was second with 81, Lake Central third at 60 and Valparaiso fourth at 58.
"These girls weren't even born yet the last time we won the regional," Crown Point coach Lindsay Moskalick said. "I talked to them about opportunities, and they had the opportunity to do something big. It's about what you do with those opportunities, and you go from there.
“Going into this year, I knew we were capable of what we’re doing, and I’ve preached it from the beginning. The girls bought in and trained like they wanted it all season, and it’s awesome to see it happening. Seeing the smiles on the girls' faces is why I coach.”
Crown Point's Kristen LaCosse won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles for the Bulldogs, adding a first in the long jump. She ran a leg of the 1,600-relay that took second. Despite not being 100 percent and battling a possible case of strep throat, it was, as Moskalick put it, “Kristen being Kristen.”
The senior standout ran a 14.61 in the 100 and 44.65 seconds in the 300. Her long jump was 17 feet, 2 3/4 inches. LaCosse recently started running the 100 hurdles again at the DAC meet, as she’d been recovering from a hamstring injury.
“I can’t catch a break it seems,” she said. “Going in, I was trying to break 15 in the 100 and 45 seconds in the 300, and I did both of those things. My times weren’t great at first in the 100 when I started back up, and I was just trying to advance. Now was the time to bring my best out again, and it went well. Overall, to accomplish both of those things even though I’m not in the best state right now is exciting.”
The Bulldogs won the 3,200 relay, also advancing its other two relays. Savy White (200), Maddie Russin (800), Hannah Wylie (1,600) added second-place finishes, and Alicia Pinchok (100 hurdles) had a third to round out the state qualifiers for C.P.
“There were some bumps along the way, but all the girls stepped up, and we qualified a good amount of girls, which is awesome” Moskalick said. “They did what they needed to do to bring home the title. Our whole motto has been starting strong and finishing stronger, and now we’ll look to the state meet and see what we can do there.”
West Side’s Antonise Christian won a pair of events for the Cougars, breaking her meet record in the 400 with a 55.5 (previously 55.89). She won the 100 with a time of 12.12.
“I was happy that I won, but I wasn’t happy with my times,” she said. “My goals were to get my 100 back down to the 11s and in the 53s in the 400s. I’m happy I got first, but there’s still work to do.”
Heading into state, the goal is clear for Christian, who has her sights set on Pike standout Lynna Irby.
“I want to take first,” she said.
Valparaiso had a multiple winner in freshman standout Ava Gilliana who won the 800 in 2:18.23 and the 1,600 in 5:09.91, a second off her personal best. The Vikes had two other winners in Madison Ochs (discus) and Brittney Clark (pole vault). Ochs was second in the shot put as was Logan Ferngren in the 1,600.
“I definitely wanted to make it to state for the mile,” she said. “I kept on dropping my times throughout the season, and I was getting closer and closer. As the season went on, I gained more and more confidence. It’s a great feeling. After the mile I was happy, but I knew I had another race, and I had to contain myself."
Merrillville was second in the meet, led by Alysa Coleman, a winner in the 200 (25.75) and runner-up in the 400 (57.45), also running a leg of 1,600 relay. The Pirates won the 400 relay and advanced Romella Bozeman (second in 100) and Payton McHenry (third in long jump).
Corin Erwin won the high jump, and teammate Imani Brown was second for Munster, as it added a third-place finish in the 400 relay. Hobart advanced in three events, with Lauren Edwards (400), Olexia Brookshire (100) and its 1,600 relay team.
Lake Central advanced Destiny Washington in both hurdles events and its 3,200 relay team. Shelby Riehle won the 3,200 for LaPorte, and teammate Riley Tuerff was second in the 300 hurdles. Victoria Farley won the shot and took third in discus for Portage.
Adding runner-up finishes were Chesterton’s Zoi Heideman (pole vault) and Calumet’s Jai Reed (long jump). Third-place finishers included: Highland’s 3,200 relay team, Griffith’s Kayla Piper (SP), Lowell’s Annalise James (800, 1,600) and Jordyn Boyer (3,200), Bishop Noll’s Eris Harris (high jump), Hebron’s Carli Sowonik (pole vault) and E.C. Central’s Keyonna Givens (200).