DUNLAP — Morgan Dyer believes she could run the cross country course at Ox Bow Park with her eyes closed.
Saturday, in her final competitive run at the course she called home for three years, Dyer did what she usually did ... won.
Posting a time of 19:02.60, the Elkhart Memorial senior won her second straight Elkhart Girls Cross Country Regional title, beating Penn's Brooke Neal (19:08.69). Dyer advances to next Saturday's New Haven Semistate, where she'll be one of the favorites.
So how does it feel to win in your final race at Ox Bow? Dyer almost ran out of adjectives to describe it.
"It's emotional ... and satisfying ... and incredible ... and just a wholesome, fun kind of day,'' Dyer said after her win. "I've spent so much time here and have a lot of great memories, so I wanted to go out with a win and I'm really happy that I was able to get it done.''
Dyer was at the front of the pack for the entire race, with Penn's Brooke Neal, Fairfield's Carol Haldeman and Northridge's Haylee Hile in close pursuit.
"At about the 2,000 meter mark, I felt Brooke fall back a little, Dyer admitted. "I still felt really strong then, so I just pushed a little more and I was able to create some distance between us.''
The race for third became a sprint in the last 100 yards, with Haldeman just edging Hile, with both girls ending up on their backs gasping for breath after the finish line.
"In about the last 1,000 I started to gain on her and I decided to really give it everything I had to try and beat her,'' Haldeman said. "It feels really good to be in the top three and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the semistate and the strong competition we'll see.''
In the team race, the Northridge girls, just as they did in last week's sectional, were totally dominate, scoring just 34 points, to beat second place Penn by 19 points to win the regional title for coach Ryan McClane.
In addition to Hile finishing fourth, Raider runners came home sixth (Alison Bache), eighth (Tamenech Baylis), 10th (Clare Ritchie), 11th (Caitlin Clark) and 13th (Keeton LeBaron).
"These last two weeks have been a lot of fun,'' McClane said with a smile. "Our fifth and sixth runner today were running J.V. just a few weeks ago at the conference tournament. We've known all season that our first four girls have been very good and if we could just find a fifth, we'd have a chance to go places in the tournament. Well, now we've found a fifth and sixth and seventh.''
In addition to Northridge and Penn, other teams to qualify for the New Haven Semistate are Mishawaka, Elkhart Central and Fairfield. The Blue Blazers were led by a fifth place finish by senior Lauren Dibley.
In addition to Dyer, among the local individuals qualifying without a team are Concord's Summer Cooper and Stephany Claudio, Memorial's Rachel Terrell, NorthWood's Kaitlin Burden and Sopohia Yordy and Nataly Esqueda of Goshen.
On the boys side, Goshen's Drew Hogan won for the second week in a row, taking the regional title with a time of 16:13.55 to edge Penn's Mariano Retzloff (16:14.74) and Memorial's Neil Terrell (16:22.76).
"This is just an awesome feeling,'' Hogan said with a huge smile. "I felt good today and I liked the pace we were setting. Thankfully, I knew who was around me, because I could hear the crowd calling their names.
Terrell advances to the semistate as an individual and he'll be the last Memorial runner competing in the tournament, as Memorial and Central will combine next year.
"I just want to keep going for as long as I can to represent Elkhart Memorial,'' Terrell said. "I want to finish in the top 20 next week and hopefully that will get me to the state finals. I would love to wear the uniform there and see what I can do.''
Terrell will be joined in New Haven by Elkhart Central's Jose Quinones and Eric Garcia, along with Concord's Luke Ownings – all of whom advance as individuals without a team.
Penn had two runners, Retzloff and Benjamin Boardley finish in the top seven, but it was a pack at 16th, 17th and 19th that gave the Kingsmen the overall team title over Goshen. Penn finished with 61 points, while the RedHawks – who had Cole Johnston finish in fourth place – came home with 79. Northridge, Mishawaka and NorthWood also qualified for the semistate as teams.
The New Haven Semistate will be run on the campus of Purdue Fort Wayne beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday.
IHSAA ELKHART REGIONAL
At Ox Bow Park
Team results: Penn 61, Goshen 79, Northridge 106, Mishawaka 115, NorthWood 155, SB Riley 158, SB Adams 161, Elkhart Memorial, 183, SB St. Joseph 93, Wawasee 205.
Top 15: Drew Hogan (G) 16:13, Mariano Retzloff (P) 16:14, Neil Terrell (EM) 16:22, Cole Johnston (G) 16:26, Jose Quinones (EC) 16:32, Jack Moore (Nr) 16:33, Jaxon Miller (Nr) 16:36, Benjamin Boardley (P) 16:47.82, William Nedbauer (A) 16:47.98, Kevin Liddell (R) 16:51, Casey Quintana (M) 16:52, Ryan Hoopingarner (M) 16:56, Josh Juday (SJ) 16:57, Tommy Claxton (G) 16:59.15, Karlson Hand (W) 16:59.35.
Team scores: Northridge 24, Penn 53, Mishawaka 122, Elkhart Central 137, Fairfield 149, Goshen 155, Concord 165, SB St. Joseph 166, Bremen 228, SB Riley 246.
Top 15: Morgan Dyer (EM) 19:02, Brooke Neal (P) 19:08, Carol Haldeman 19:19.38, Haylee Hile (Nr) 19:19.83, Lauren Dibley (EC) 19:48, Alison Bache (Nr) 20:01, Morgan Gannon (P) 20:04.25, Tamenech Baylis (Nr) 20:04.82, Sarah Beshara (M) 20:05, Clare Ritchie (Nr) 20:06.03, Caitlin Clark (Nr) 20:06.95, Sophia Yordy (G) 20:09, Keeton LeBaron (Nr) 20:18, Summer Cooper (C) 20:27, Mackenzie Holland (P) 20:32.