CULVER — There are not many high school events that include 4,000 athletes, Culver Academies Cross Country Invitational pulled it off Saturday — and in a masterful way.

Two Post-tribune region runners were also masterful. South Central’s Kyliegh Werner and Morgan Township’s Ben Savage both finished first in their events, the girls and boys closed.

Neither thought they ran well on a day when the weather was ideal, but then none of the times were particularly good overall.

“I was in control the entire race,” said Werner, who finished a good 400 meters ahead of her closest pursuer. “I just wanted to keep a comfortable lead, keep pace.”

Werner, a junior, ran a 20:00 on the 5K course.

Savage, a sophomore, posted a time of 16:42.4, nine seconds ahead of Winamac’s Scott Collins.

“At the end, I really didn’t turn it on,” Savage said. “This week I had a minor injury, and I wanted to slow down the pace, then turn it on at the end, but it really wasn’t necessary.”

Savage said he’d like to run in the elite race next year. He has won all but one of his races this season, and has been working off a nagging injury. He added that he had run just eight miles the whole week, and “it was debatable if I should run or not today.”

The injury comment was a consistent one for most of the runners, who want to prevent injuries as they look ahead to conference tournaments in the coming week, and then, the IHSAA tournament. It kept some of area teams strongest runners on the sideline, or they pulled out early to not aggravate an injury.

For instance, Hebron coach Mike Defrees held out his two top runners. Meridith Martin did not run, and Kayley Hodson did not finish.

Fairfield won the girls closed race with 101 points. Hebron was third at 154, Hanover Central 10th, South Cental 17th, Westville 18 and Kouts 20.

In the boys varsity open, LaPorte had the best local finish of the invite, placing second behind Indianapolis Brebeuf Jesuit by just five points. Chesterton was fifth, Kankakee Valley ninth and Michigan City 13th out of 23 teams. LaPorte’s top three runners were Sam Miller in fifth, Braden Griffin in 14th and Dakota Merkel at 24th. KV’s Blaine Conley was 11th and Bryce Gawronski 17th. Chesterton’s highest finisher was Mitchell Wilborn in 13th.

Chesterton senior Brad Adkins said that, “depth in our middle group, we’re so close,” helped his team finish fifth.

In the girls open, Warsaw won, with Kankakee Valley 12th and Michigan City 19th.