DUNLAP — After the top three finishers at the IHSAA Elkhart Girls Cross Country Sectional on Saturday, came a gaggle of Northridge runners wearing bright yellow.
Make that vintage yellow.
Coach Ryan McClane's Raiders placed six runners between fourth place and 10th in the race and cruised to the sectional title with just 32 points, easily beating runner-up Fairfield and third place Elkhart Central on a cold and blustery day at Ox Bow Park.
"We were third here last year after winning in 2017 and we didn't like that much,'' McClane admitted. "I've thought all season our top four girls have been outstanding, but we were lacking that fifth girl that could get us to state. Today, we had a couple girls really step up and you could see it by our results.''
Elkhart Memorial's Morgan Dyer won her third straight sectional title with a time of 19:11.57, while Fairfield's Carol Haldeman was second about five seconds behind, with Summer Cooper of Concord third. All three are seniors.
Then came the Northridge contingent, led by freshman Haylee Hile in fourth, Caitlin Clark in fifth and Alison Bache in sixth. After Elkhart Central's Lauren Dibley interrupted the Raider parade for a seventh place finish, Northridge's Clare Ritchie, Tamenech Baylis and Keeton LeBaron finished the top 10.
"We didn't really plan to run in a pack, but that's how it worked out today,'' McClane said. "I decided last night to bring out some uniforms that I think we first got in 2002 and it was great to see all of that yellow coming down the chute together.''
The top five finishing teams and the top 10 finishers not on a team that's advancing, will move on to next Saturday's Elkhart Regional, again back at Ox Bow.
For Dyer, it will be her final competitive run at Ox Bow, a site that she has dominated the last three years. However, the talented senior was coming off a third place finish at last weekend's NLC meet, when she admits she was at less than 100 percent.
"It was good win today, but I thought Haylee (Hile) did a great job of winning last weekend and I was so proud of her,'' Dyer said. "The cold weather doesn't really bother me. My sophomore year at state it was in the 30's and windy, so today wasn't too bad. Just a little hard to get your breath.''
Two years ago, Dyer became a cross country sensation, winning a sectional title in her first year in the sport.
Saturday, Goshen sophomore Drew Hogan did the same, winning the boys race in a time of 16:15.92, just edging teammate Cole Johnston (16:17). The one-two finish helped propel the RedHawks to the team title with a total of just 37 points, easily topping second place Northridge (87). Coach Mike Wynn's Goshen team also had Tommy Claxton (seventh) and Adrian Mora (10th) come home in the top 10.
"We sat down last night and took a long look at the course and some of the places where you could make moves,'' Wynn said. "But the boys came out today and really performed great. To get four in the top 10 with a strong field here is a great accomplishment. Now we'll go on to next week with Penn here and some of the South Bend-area schools and see what we can do.''
For Hogan, his first sectional race was a memorable one.
"I went out for track last spring and really liked it, so I decided to try cross country and have a sport in the fall,'' Hogan said. "Today was great. I didn't have real plan in mind, I just wanted to win. For our team to win too, makes it an even better day.''
In addition to Goshen and Northridge, NorthWood, Elkhart Memorial and Wawasee all qualified for next week's regional as a team. Neil Terrell was the top finisher for Elkhart Memorial, coming home in third.
Goshen and Concord will join Northridge, Fairfield and Elkhart Central as girls' teams moving on next Saturday.
IHSAA ELKHART SECTIONAL
At Ox Bow
Team results: Goshen 37, Northridge 81, NorthWood 92, Elkhart Memorial 99, Wawasee 145, Concord 148, Elkhart Christian 153, Elkhart Central 159, Fairfield 263, Jimtown 291, Bethany Christian 293.
Top 15: Drew Hogan (G) 16:15, Cole Johnston (G) 16:17, Neil Terrell (EM) 16:21, Jack Moore (Nr) 16:36, Jaxon Miller (Nr) 16:45, Jose Quinones (EC) 16:53, Tommy Claxton (G) 16:55, Luke Owings (C) 17:06, Michael Hammer (W) 17:08, Adrian Mora (G) 17:08, Karison Hand (W) 17:09, Eric Garcia (EC), 17:14, Juan Cepero (EM) 17:22, Tony Maxwell (EC) 17:25, Brady Hunsberger (NW) 17:37.
Individuals advancing: Quinones, Owing, Garcia, Maxwell, Josh Bevier (EC), Kevin Ruiz Cruz (C) Luke Schramm (EC), Jonathan Wiggins (J), Richard Pietrariu (C), Jaren Hagerman (F).
Team results: Northridge 32, Fairfield 109, Elkhart Central 117, Goshen 125, Concord 128, NorthWood 131, Elkhart Memorial 133 Wawasee 164, Bethany Christian 214, Jimtown 301.
Top 15: Morgan Dyer (EM) 19:11, Carol Haldeman (F) 19:16, Summer Cooper (C) 19:27, Haylee Hile (Nr) 19:38, Caitlin Clark (Nr) 20:00, Alison Bache (Nr) 20:06, Lauren Dibley (EC) 20:15, Clare Ritchie (Nr) 20:16, Temenech Baylis (Nr) 20:17, Keeton LeBaron (Nr) 20:29, Kaitlin Burden (NW) 21:00.13, Chynzie Howell (F) 21:00.63, Madelyn Yoder (F) 21:05.62, Rachel Terrell (EM), 21:05.92, Teresa Richer (BC) 21:13.
Individual qualifiers: Burden, Terrell, Richer, Emilie Allen (NW), Clara Lind (BC), Emma Ebright (W), Megan Miller (NW), Emma Gruet (ECA), Cammy Kryder (W), Mia Wellington (NW).