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Top Dogs: Crown Point's 12th-place finish leads local boys teams at state meet

TERRE HAUTE -- Like Goldilocks with her porridge, Cole Raymond hopes to get his state cross country meet strategy just right come next season.

"Last year, I got boxed in at beginning, and it wasn't going to happen this year," the La Porte junior said Satuday. "I went from a little too far back to a little too far ahead. I went out pretty hard. I thought it was going to go a little quicker. I was in third at the beginning, but I got out a little too hard. It was like, I can't go back now. After 2K, I was fighting it the entire time. It was hitting me pretty early."

Raymond wound up 34th in 16:21, 14 seconds off the medals group, at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course.

"I was able to catch a couple guys late, but it still wasn't enough to get in the top 25," he said. "Guys were going by me, I kept telling myself, keep fighting. I tried to go with them as long as possible. I was with them at the mile, I was right there, but they went out a little more conservative than I did, and they just had it. I'm going to be ready for track. My event is going out fast and I can hang in the mile. I think that's a little more of my sweet spot."

With two-time state runner-up Lucas Guerra graduating and no other underclassmen in the top 50, Raymond figures to be the runner to beat in the area next season.

"The goal was always to get ourselves in the 15 to 20 range," LP coach Corbin Slater said. "He came though the mile in 17th, right where we wanted it. He had to grit his way through it. This course is just a monster. It's tough. You can't afford to fall off at all. It was just a huge group of guys there. At 3K, he was grimacing still. He could've really packed it in and felt sorry for himself, but he battled all the way through and was still the second best Region guy. We're looking that much more forward to track season."

Crown Point, which volleyed with Chesterton for local team supremacy, was the top dog at state, taking 12th with 350 points.

Cole Raymond of La Porte (behind Carmel runner) and Crown Point's Quinton Bock (bib 615) got out with the lead group in Saturday's state cross country meet.

"Overall, we ran well as team," CP coach Erik Forehand said. "The key was though we had a couple guys who were off, we had a couple step up, which I don't think is too uncommon at the state meet. You don't know what you're going to get. We wanted to finish in the top half and we accomplished that. The boys were also really motivated after last weekend's outcome to come in and be the top team from the new pre-semistate."

Cole Simmons led the Bulldogs in 36th (16:22.5) with Anthony Sabernak 68th and Quinton Bock 73rd.

"Quinton didn't have the race he would've liked, but Anthony stepped up and had a really good race," Forehand said. "Nathan (Murphy) didn't necessarily have the race he wanted, but Cameron (Zimmerman) stepped up and had a good race. That's essentially what you need. One time, we had all seven click. That was at the DAC meet, but I consider that to be kind of rare at Lavern Gibson. Coming down to state, you just don't know what kind of performance your team is going to have."

CP graduated Saberniak and Bock.

"I'm thankful the boys had a season and I'm proud of them and all they accomplished when none of this was a guarantee," Forehand said. "I'm thankful to coach a group of high-character individuals. We'll miss the senior leadership but we look forward to the returning group working consistently in the off-season to be a tough team to beat next year."

Chesterton finished 17th in 395.

"From the start of the season, not one time did we talk about the state meet until this week," Trojans coach Tim Ray said. "Our state meet was last week (semistate), and we won. Coach (Mike) Hoffman from Merrillville and I talked, and we compared this race to reaching the mountain top. Then when you are there, you are expected to keep climbing, but there is nothing there to climb. It is mentally very tough to enter a race knowing that at your perfect race, you won’t be in the top six. We battled and ran great."

Matthew Streeter was 40th to lead Chesterton.

"I am very proud of our guys and the way they raced," Ray said. "We talked about doing the best we could and not worry about places. We only had one of our top five back from last year and far exceeded any rankings or expectations. We won the school's third semistate championship in school history along with sectional and regionals. This senior class qualified for (state) for the third time in four years and the program's 15th in the past 20.The boys represented their families, school, and more importantly the Chesterton cross county program with excellence and I was honored to have coached them."

Lake Central (558) was 22nd and Munster (563) 23rd, rounding out the Region contingent. Max Lindenmayer placed 74th for the Mustangs.

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