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Refreshed Ranta paces Chesterton to Bransford title

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

La PORTE -- For Bailey Ranta, it's always been a question of mind over matter, as in, if her mind gets in the way, nothing else is going to matter.

"I have what it takes physically, I just need to get more out of the mental (side)," the Chesterton junior said. "I would get nervous and my stomach would hurt. There's none of that this year."

Just in case Ranta needed a few reminders along the way, she printed some brief motivational scripture on her arms, 'God is with me, do not fear,' and 'Trust God's plan,' a paraphrase of the Biblical verse, Jeremiah 29:11.

"It's really helping me not to get ahead of myself, to not get too worked up," Ranta said after cruising to a 71-second victory with a time of 18:56.77 in Saturday's Jack Bransford Invite at Kesling Park. "I just had to have a good mindset and trust my abilities. I have been really using Philippians 4:13, 'I can do all things through Christ,' which is really helping me. I've been trying to pray more, trust I have what it takes to be the top dog. Everything happens for a reason, just trust that it's a setback that's going to make me stronger in the end; have no regrets, just finish on empty, like Nike says."

Trojans coach Lindsay Moskalick called Ranta 'a completely different girl' from the one who sometimes let her thoughts get the best of her in the past.

"From last year to this year, Bailey is a much stronger individual, physically, mentally, emotionally," Moskalick said. "She's more confident in herself. I'm hoping with this race and moving forward she understands why I say, you're a force to be reckoned with, you're are one of the top runners, and you need to act like it. (This) showed. This is just the beginning. Her workouts have been going great. Moving forward, it's just going to be better."

Ranta was followed by teammate Catherine White (20:07.99), Crown Point's Jaelyn Burgos (20:12.8) and La Porte's Ella Bensz (20:13.58). "It's my first race, I just wanted to see where I was at compared to all the other runners," Ranta said. "It's a good start. It helped with my confidence. I just want to get more out of it. I know I have a lot of room to improve."

While the pandemic limited her summer competition, she's stayed sharp, training with the likes of former Chesterton great Cassie Peller.

"It was good to see her," Ranta said. "Obviously, no one likes (wearing masks and distancing), but at least we can have a season. I'll do whatever it takes to be back

racing with my teammates."

Chesterton's Bailey Ranta crosses the finish line to

win the Jack Bransford Invite on Saturday at Kesling

Park as the meet's namesake looks on.

(Photo by Jim Peters)

Chesterton used its front end strength to hold off balanced Lake Central, 48-57. Though only seven counted toward scoring, the Indians had nine runners in the top 18, led by Natalie Kransky (eighth).

"Eight of the 12 are new in this position," Moskalick said. "We graduated five from our top 12, but the girls have been training since COVID. They've got a good base. (This) is just a start for us. Now that we actually have a meet, it's OK, we're going to have a season. Leading up to this, they were deflated. Now it's like, it's going to happen."

White headlines the group of newcomers, a runner who was outside the team's top 12 last season. Bree Gentry (sixth) is back among Chesterton's supporting cast. She was followed by McKenna Handley (21st) and Alyssa Dunlap (22nd) with freshman Ciara Bonner 25th and Allison Leady 30th.

"Catherine's totally come on since last spring before we shut down," Moskalick said. "She really committed to training. Her workouts are going real well. She's going to be up there. It's set in stone. Our four, five were newbies. McKenna was like No. 20 on the team. She just bought in. She did our road race and she improved over three minutes."

La Porte followed L.C. in third, led by the four-five finishes of Ella Bensz and Brenna Sobecki.

Crown Point's Jaelyn Burgos finished second in Saturday's Jack Bransford Invite at Kesling Park with Ella Bensz of La Porte following in third. (Photo by Jim Peters)

"I'm very pleased," Slicers coach Corbin Slater said. "Last year, we were really on the outside looking in. We didn't even make it to semistate. We saw a huge improvement in the top three girls in the off-season. A couple were never even near close to the top of the group. We weren't even close last year and we were within 20 points. That's huge. We knew from our time trials they were in a different league than a year before."

In other meets Saturday, Wheeler's Hailey Orosz broke the course record at the Bearcat Invitational with a run of 19:18.57. Teammate Emma Hellwege (19:31.39) was second and Boone Grove's Kyra Flesvig third. Wheeler posted 18 points to capture team honors.

At Hebron, Lowell's Karina James clocked an 18:37 with Emma Bell of Kankakee Valley second in 20:26. Harrison (West Lafayette) was team champion with 33 points, followed by Lowell (48).

Wheeler's Hailey Orosz broke the course and meet record in Saturday's Bearcat Invitational. Teammate Emma Hellwege was second.

(Photo Provided)

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