WARSAW BOYS XC: TIGERS OFF THE PACE, ZEB FIT TO TRAVEL

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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Sunday, October 23, 2016

Warsaw sophomore Zeb Hernandez (550, right) chases eventual champ Mitchell Rans of Caston (304) out of the woods near the 3,000-meter mark during the boys cross country semistate Saturday at New Prairie. Rans and Hernandez finished 1-2. (Photos by Tim Creason)

Warsaw sophomore Zeb Hernandez (550, right) chases eventual champ Mitchell Rans of Caston (304) out of the woods near the 3,000-meter mark during the boys cross country semistate Saturday at New Prairie. Rans and Hernandez finished 1-2. (Photos by Tim Creason)

By TIM CREASON
NEW CARLISLE – Close, real close.

But still too far away.

Warsaw coach Jim Mills knew his Tigers had to run their absolute best, 100 percent-all-out race to advance from Saturday’s semistate boys cross country tournament at New Prairie.

He got 90 percent.

“We just haven’t had five guys on the same page on the same day. It’s been a killer all season,” said Mills after his Tigers ended their fall campaign with an eighth-place team finish.

Well, almost ended it. Sophomore Zeb Hernandez has advanced to next week’s IHSAA state finals as an individual thanks to a second-place effort in Saturday’s 5,000-meter race.

Hernandez covered New Prairie’s famed 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 55.9 seconds. Only Mitchell Rans of Caston (15:50.4) was faster.

The top six teams at a semistate advance to state, which is held at the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute. Also advancing are the top 10 individuals who are not members of a qualifying team.

The boys state meet starts at 1:45 p.m. (EDT) next Saturday.

A surprising Lowell team took down defending champ West Lafayette in Saturday’s team chase, placing three runners among the top 10 finishers and scoring 84 points. West Lafayette had 111.

Warsaw scored 209, leaving the Tigers 21 points out of the final state meet berth.  Chesterton finished sixth with 188.

“We were just a little bit off,” said Mills. “It’s all a mental thing at this point. Who wants it the most? We all run the same race on the same day, and we just didn’t get it done.”

Warsaw's Lucas Howett (551) strains for the finish line at the end of his 5,000-meter race.

Warsaw’s Lucas Howett (551) strains for the finish line at the end of his 5,000-meter race.Hernandez positioned himself in the lead pack and stayed there throughout, never falling off, but never able to reach the front, either.Rans broke open a tight race with about 500 meters to go. Hernandez followed him into second and out-sprinted everybody else down the homestretch“I’m really proud of my race,” said Hernandez, who also advanced to state as an individual last year. “Towards the end, it was cold and windy and really hard to push against that. But I didn’t give up. I really gave it all I had.”

In hindsight, Hernandez said a fast opening thousand meters may have cost him at the finish.

“I think I went out too fast,” said Hernandez. “I’m really going to try and be smarter about my race next week (at the state finals).”

Lucas Howett gave the Tigers a solid effort in the No. 2 spot, finishing 24th in 16:32.9.  He missed qualifying for the state meet as an individual by about 10 seconds.

Francisco Ramirez was 49th in 16:50.5, just what the Tigers needed, but after that came a 35-second gap before the next Warsaw runner came in.

Thomas Lemon was 86th in 17:25.3, and Nathaniel Gottschalk was 93rd in 17:29.0.

Wrapping up the Warsaw scoring was Justin Fleming in 118th and Taylor Mills in 130th.

“Our four and five runners have struggled all year,” said Mills. “The good news is that everybody’s back. We don’t have a senior in our top 15. So there’s hope for the future.”

IHSAA CROSS COUNTRY SEMISTATE
At New Carlisle

BOYS TEAM SCORES: Lowell 84, West Lafayette 111, Crown Point 151, Valparaiso 160, Portage 174, Chesterton 188, Lake Central 191, Warsaw 209, McCutcheon 224, LaPorte 225, Michigan City 227, Fountain Central 259, Culver Academies 347, Harrison (Lafayette) 363, Rochester 385, Highland 434, Munster 447, Logansport 511, Lafayette Jeff 513, Plymouth 514.

TOP 25 FINISHERS: 1, Mitchell Rans (Caston) 15:50.4.  2, Zeb Hernandez (Warsaw) 15:55.9. 3, Alec Fleming (Lowell) 15:57.4. 4, Bryon Berg (Michigan City) 15:57.8.  5, Hunter Boyer (Lowell) 15:58.6. 6, Jakob Kintzele (Chesterton) 15:59.4. 7, Will Persin (McCutcheon) 16:06.9.  8, Antonio Chapa (Portage) 16:08.7. 9, Thomas Rohr (Rochester) 16:09.2.  10, Caleb Chapman (Lowell) 16:10.8.  11, Kevin Paszko (Hanover Central) 16:11.5. 12, Isaiah Robyne (West Lafayette) 16:13.6.  13, Dillon Quinones (Portage) 16:13.9. 14, Joey Copeland (Lake Central) 16:14.8. 15, David Czerwonky (West Lafayette) 16:18.5. 16, Geno Christofanelli (Crown Pt) 16:18.8.  17, Billy Duszynski (Lake Central) 16:22.0.  18, William White (Harrison) 16:22.0.  19, Trevor Braden (Morgan Twp.) 16:22.0.  20, Andrius Kriauciunas (West Lafayette) 16:24.1.  21, Joshua Everetts (Western) 16:25.6.  22, Ben Payton (Fountain Central) 16:26.9.  23, Jacob Adams (Michigan City) 16:31.5.  24, Lucas Howett (Warsaw) 16:32.9.  25, Mitch Polaski (Lake Central)  16:33.1.

NOTE: Top six teams advance to IHSAA state finals in Terre Haute on Saturday, Oct. 29.  Also advancing are the top 10 individuals who are not members of a qualifying team.

Warsaw junior Thomas Lemon (552) sprints to the finish line. Warsaw's Francisco Ramirez (555) is in full flight coming down the homestretch.

Posted In: Boy's Sports > Cross Country

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