La PORTE -- Every runner counts.
Every runner has heard her their coach tell them that before a race.
After Saturday's Duneland Athletic Conference race at Kesling Park, Chesterton had a reason to take coach Lindsay Moskalick's words to heart.
The Trojans finished in a tie for first place with Valparaiso, both scoring 58 points, but claimed the title by virtue of a better sixth runner score.
"We've been telling the girls all seven count," Moskalick said. "It was almost like we were fighting the whole time for places."
Chesterton literally won by less than a tenth of a second as Ciara Bonner edged Lake Central's Rachel Narjes for ninth, both clocking 19:42.3. A breath slower and it's not a tie, and Liz Hibshman's 23rd-place finish wouldn't have been such a big deal.
"Alyssa (Dunlap) broke the Lake Central pack, which we were talking about with her," Moskalick said. "Liz coming through as our No. 6 really sealed the deal. She was a JV girl last year. She did what we've been telling her she's capable of all season long."
As a result, the Trojans won their first DAC championship since 1998, when their coach was a freshman on the team.
"I researched it and found out," Moskalick said. "There was a year we finished second at state and Valpo won, so we didn't win (DAC). I was telling the girls, let's make history."
Bailey Ranta made her own history, breaking Shelby Bullock's Chesterton record of 18:06, clocking in at 18:04.3, which was also an unconfirmed course record. The Trojans junior raised her arms and shrieked as she reached the finish line, knowing she'd beaten the time Bullock, now at Purdue, ran in 2017.
"I looked at the time and I had to sprint," Ranta said. "I actually did it, it was just so emotional. It surprised me. It was just so great. Shelby was a senior when I was a freshman. She was someone I really looked up to."
Valpo's Kaylie Politza pushed a hard early pace, forcing Ranta to adjust her strategy, but she got things in order soon enough, eventually winning by 39 seconds.
"At the start, I kind of lost it," Ranta said. "I had to quickly change my mindset that I can win this. I knew she was going to take off, so I couldn't let her get that far ahead. I just had to stay with her. I really tried to break her at the 1K. I didn't look back from there. I just kept pushing it, pushing it. She didn't come with me, so I just kept going."
Moskalick could've done with a little less drama, but liked how her team responded to the challenge.
"Those low three numbers are going to help you in a meet like today," she said of Valpo's 2-3-7 finish. "I think it's good for (Ranta), healthy competition. Bailey needs that. That's running. As each meet keeps building, it's going to be adding more competition to help push her. Kaylie took off pretty quick and I don't think Bailey necessarily responded until about 1K. She just raced after that."
In addition to Politza, Valpo had Cheyanne Stock take third and Grace Thomas seventh, but Chesterton put seven in before its fifth.
"Grace had a phenomenal race," coach John Arredondo said. "I was really proud of our 1-2-3. Our four (Anika Anderson) has been in the mid-20s and she went 20:02. Grace and Anika really put us in position to be close. We really closed the gap (with Chesterton). We've been preaching to the other girls, we have to close that gap. It bit us in the butt."
Even so, Arredondo hopes the improvement is a good indicator heading to the post-season.
"When you're that close, it sucks. Generally, you'd rather have lost by 20 points than by a tie-breaker. It's like losing on a last-second shot in basketball," he said. "We always preach to the girls that every point counts, but it's the best we've run all year. I hope it's setting the stage for
Chesterton's Bailey Ranta broke the school
record in winning Saturday's Duneland
Athletic Conference meet at Kesling Park.
us to continue. We tend to get better in the postseason and I hope that is the trend. We're getting there."
Lake Central took third with 70, led by Natalie Kransky in eighth. The Indians had all seven runners in the top 25.
* At Boone Grove, Morgan Township topped Kouts 33-52 to extend its string of Porter County Conference meet titles to six. The Cherokees placed four runners in the top eight and seven in the top 14. Adelaide Young Brust (20:12) of South Central was the individual champion, finishing 13 seconds ahead of Boone Grove's Kyra Flesvig.