DUNLAP — “Calm Down. Concentrate. So you’ll have something to celebrate.”
That little chant got Olivia Golden past the pain and helped her lead Northridge to its 21st sectional team title.
The Raiders — led by junior Golden (first in 19:20 for 5,000 meters) and seniors Jennifer Schrock (third in 19:35) and Madie Royce (fourth in 19:57) — scored 24 points to lead the five advancing girls squads from Tuesday’s Elkhart Sectional to Saturday’s Elkhart Regional — both at Ox Bow Park — along with Memorial (60), Goshen (104), Wawasee (106) and Concord (133).
Sophomore Brooke Moore (second) led the way for Memorial, sophomore Adrienne Henke (ninth) for Goshen, sophomore Breanna Robinson (eighth) for Wawasee and freshman Vanessa Steiner (15th) for Concord.
Elkhart Christian sophomore Kayla Casaletto came in fifth.
With junior Blake O’Dell (16:12) and sophomore James Bradberry (16:14 for 5,000 meters) placing 1-2, Northridge made it a sweep, taking the boys championship, too. The Raiders amassed 30 team points, followed by Goshen (52), Wawasee (93), Central (117) and Concord (136).
Senior Luke Kaufman (fourth) was the top Goshen runner. Senior Reid Stichter (fifth) led Wawasee. Senior Logan Edwards (17th) guided Central. Sophomore Henry Zelaya (14th) was tops for Concord.
Elkhart Christian senior Joel Hartman (16:29) wound up third among boys.
The top 15 runners — boys and girls — advanced to the regional.
In Tuesday’s girls race, Golden made her move at the 3K mark.
The goal was to be strong in the middle of the race and make a couple of surges when fatigue began setting in.
“I’ve always struggled in the middle,” said Golden, who wound up nine seconds in front of runner-up Moore. “It’s really exciting when you hit the 3K and you are up with the leaders.
“It helps to know this course because you know where you are going to hurt the most and where you’ve got to push.”
Northridge coach Ryan McClane saw Golden, Schrock and Royce lead the way for a team that did not have injured senior runner Corinne Cominator for the race (she may be able to compete Saturday).
“Olivia and Madie stepped up big tonight,” said McClane.
The Northridge coach noted that his boys have been a strong team in recent seasons, including 2012, but had nothing concrete to show with it while competing against Northern Lakes Conference and statewide power Warsaw (which went to the Culver Academy Sectional).
“Getting to put a ‘12’ on our banner in the gym next to sectional is big for us,” said McClane. “It’s really exciting that they get to get out of the shadow of Warsaw a little bit.”
O’Dell, who was hoping to break 16:00 but noted that the end of the race had runners facing a strong headwind, helped the Raiders lead the field.
“Warsaw is usually in charge of the pace,” said O’Dell. “It was our turn to pace it.”
The strategy is for the top three Raider runners to get to the 1K mark around 3:02 and have the other four hit their marks along the way.
Northridge does not plan to “taper” its training until after regional in order to give them the freshest legs possible for semistate and the State Finals.
(At Ox Bow)
Team scores (top 5 to Elkhart Regional): Northridge 30, Goshen 52, Wawasee 93, Central 117, Concord 136, Fairfield 168, NorthWood 187, Memorial 244, Elkhart Christian 245, Jimtown 298, Bethany Christian 331.
Top 25 runners (Top 15 to Elkhart Regional): Blake O’Dell (Nr) 16:12, James Bradberry (Nr) 16:15, Joel Hartman (ECA) 16:29, Luke Kaufman (G) 16:36, Reid Stichter (Waw) 16:38, Jacob Frost (Nr) 16:45, Reid Zimmerman (G) 16:52, Josh Abbs (G) 17:00, Adam Doll (Waw) 17:01, Luke Riffell (Nr) 17:05, Conner Sandt (Nr) 17:06, Nate Miller (Ff) 17:09, Neel Patel (Nr) 17:10, Henry Zelaya (C) 17:11, Adam Weeden (G) 17:13, Dominic Proffitt (Co) 17:14, Logan Edwards (Ce) 17:19, Shawn Graves (G) 17:20, Ricardo Castillo (G) 17:24, Alfonso Torres (G) 17:27, Phil Kilmer (Nr) 17:28, Zach Cockrill (Waw) 17:31, Austin Quick (Ce) 17:32, Caleb Woodard (Ce) 17:33, Nathan Munet (Ce) 17:34.
Team scores (top 5 to Elkhart Regional): Northridge 24, Memorial 60, Goshen 104, Wawasee 106, Concord 133, Fairfield 150, Elkhart Christian 212, NorthWood 212, Jimtown 236, Central 250.
Top 25 runners (Top 15 to Elkhart Regional): Olivia Golden (Nr) 19:20, Brooke Moore (M) 19:29, Jennifer Schrock (Nr) 19:35, Madie Royce (Nr) 19:57, Kayla Casaletto (ECA) 20:00, Mandy Campbell (Nr) 20:03, Hailey Moore (M) 20:04, Breanna Robinson (Waw) 20:08, Adrienne Henke (G) 20:12, Morgan Blyly (Nr) 20:14, Taylor Stidham (Ff) 20:15, Brianna Eggleston (Nr) 20:27, Haley Lehman (M) 20:38, Jen Slabaugh (Waw) 20:41.3, Vanessa Steiner (Co) 20:41.9, Amanda Dibley (Ce) 20:42.6, Courtney Linnemeier (Waw) 20:42.8, Alisa Zoller (M) 20:44, Jessica Wynn (G) 20:48, Christian Trost (M) 20:51, Madison Miller (Waw) 20;58, Annelise Wiebe (G) 21:03, Anna Nisen (Co) 21:24, Morgan Severeid (M) 21:25, Heather Johnson (Co) 21:30.
Next: Qualifiers to Elkhart Regional Saturday at Ox Bow, 9:30 a.m. (girls) and 10 a.m. (boys).