LIGONIER — Area cross country teams get a significant upgrade in competition when they are joined by the best Fort Wayne has to offer in a regional meet.
It didn’t matter to Izaiah Steury. Attacking a new course record at West Noble, he left the stars of the Summit City way off in the distance, too.
Steury was not far off from the record, but the Angola junior dominated again to win his first regional championship.
Steury finished the 5-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 20.50 seconds. That was 34.63 seconds ahead of runner-up Spencer Carpenter from Westview.
The course record was run in 2015, when Homestead’s Brayden Law finished in 15:17.81.
Steury will be one of 13 area individuals (five boys, eight girls) who will run in the New Haven Semi-State this coming Saturday at Huntington University.
Westview’s boys are the only area team to advance to semi-state. The Warriors were fifth with 114 and well ahead of sixth-place Columbia City, who had 148.
The top five teams in the regional and the top 10 runners not from those teams advance to semi-state.
Steury took off mentally to win his first regional title. He will be running in the semi-state for the third straight year.
“My goal was to take the lead at the gun, then take it home,” Steury said, “I knew I had to go out fast. But the second mile is not easy. I had to push myself mentally. The last two miles, I was able to get after it.”
Hornets coach Brad Peterson said, “Izaiah is where he needs to be to win a state title. He looked really strong.”
The weather was where it needs to be for many harriers on Saturday. The temperatures were rising largely in the 40s during both races. “I prefer this type of weather,” Steury said.
During the West Noble Sectional last weekend, temperatures were rising toward 70.
Warriors twin brothers Spencer and Remington Carpenter faced some competition a day after their 18th birthdays. But they were where they needed to be, said Westview co-coach Matt Jones.
Spencer was second in 15:55.13, and Remington was fifth in 16:14.12.
“One and two (Spencer and Remington Carpenter) ran real good. Three, four, five and six didn’t run what they were capable of. But we fight on for one more week,” Jones said. “We wanted to make sure we moved on.
“We need to be mentally prepared next week.”
Lyndon Miller was 29th for Westview in 17:17.63, and Anthony Sanchez was 32nd in 17:24.64.
Ninth-ranked Concordia won with 49 points. Carroll was second with 79, followed Homestead (100), Bishop Dwenger (107) and Westview to round out the top five.
West Noble sophomore Grant Flora (11th place, 16:45.47), Churubusco’s Eli Lantz (22nd, 17:10.16), East Noble’s Wesley Potts (25th, 17:13.03) and Garrett’s Tanner McMain (26th, 17:13.03) also qualified for semi-state.
A solid spring and season training despite the COVID-19 pandemic has carried on for Flora.
“He’s had a great season. It’s been fun to watch him run,” said West Noble boys coach Mike Flora, who is Grant’s father. “The kid is really determined and dedicated. And he hasn’t got hurt.”
“Where Grant probably took a huge jump was that even when track was canceled in the spring, he ran hoping track would return and he got stronger in the offseason.”
Angola was seventh with 159, followed by DeKalb (186), West Noble (217) and East Noble (238).
Freshman Sam Yarnell was 36th for the Hornets in 17:29.29, and Alex Kincannon was 49th at 17:56.79.
“We ran well, but we’re still a year away,” Peterson said. “We’re basically returning everybody.
“Yarnell knows how to race.”
Braeden McIntire led the Barons in 28th place in 17:15.67, and Matthias Hefty was 42nd in 17:38.59.
For the Knights, Ian Torres was 59th in 18:17.18. Kyler Corbin was 62nd in 18:26.36, and Rob Rogers was 66th in 18:34.72.
In the girls’ race, DeKalb senior Riley Winebrenner led area runners in fourth place in 19:23.04. Sophomore teammate Lydia Bennett took a positive step by placing 17th in 20:19.55 after not feeling well and not finishing the sectional race last week.
“We were hoping she would be a little bit faster... but we were just looking to get her through this,” Barons coach Josh Maple said of Bennett.
“Riley ran awesome. She ran her PR (personal record). She has improved all season long, and she is having her best season as a senior.”
Angola sophomore Gracynn Hinkley will run at Huntington after placing seventh at West Noble in 19:44.29.
“It felt really good,” she said. “I tried to hang on with people and stay on their hip. It went pretty well. The competition pushed me.”
Five other girls will run in the semi-state: EN’s Rachel Becker (23rd in the regional, 20:31.54), Garrett’s Nataley Armstrong (24th, 20:32.40), Westview’s DeAnn Fry (25th, 20:32.84), West Noble freshman Roby Clark (28th, 20:41.02) and East Noble’s Mariah Maley (20:46.57).
The Barons were a distant sixth with 156 points, followed by West Noble (163), East Noble (189), Angola (213) and Fremont (256).
Bishop Dwenger won a tiebreaker for fourth over Leo at 111. Carroll, the state’s top-ranked team, won with 49 points. No. 17 Concordia was second with 70, and No. 20 Homestead was third with 82.
Homestead freshman sensation Addison Knoblauch won the individual title with 18:39.78.
Baron Abby DeTray was 33rd in 20:58.45, followed by West Noble’s Megan Wallen in 21:00.77. Also for the Chargers, Erin Shoemaker was 38th in 21:17.95, and Yoseline Haro-Rodrguez was 39th in 21:19.20.
Central Noble’s Michaela Rinehold was 44th in 21:35.67, and Prairie Heights’ Allison Steele was 47th in 21:43.44. East Noble’s Anna Becker was 50th in 21:47.84, followed by Churubusco’s Allie Basinger (21:47.85) and Fremont’s Natalie Gochenour (52nd, 21:54.26).