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Cross country: Bulldogs lead the pack in sectional sweep

Crown Point's Tom Ciermak Daniel Walters Alex Ray lead boys race during cross country sectionals Tuesday LemLake Crown Point. |

Crown Point's Tom Ciermak, Daniel Walters, and Alex Ray lead the boys race during the cross country sectionals on Tuesday, at Lemon Lake, in Crown Point. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 11, 2012 6:31AM



CEDAR LAKE — Lowell’s Kyle Eller must have felt like he was being ganged up on a little bit.

The defending individual champ still managed to repeat at Tuesday’s Crown Point Sectional, but for about two-thirds of the race, the Red Devils standout wasn’t exactly sure what might happen.

That’s because Crown Point’s talented trio — Tom Cierniak, Daniel Walters and Alex Ray — was out in front and leading most of the race held at Lemon Lake County Park.

“Me and Cierniak pulled ahead after the two-mile mark or so,” Eller said. “With a ‘K’ left, I pulled away. It feels great to win again. I always hope to win, but I don’t always expect to win, because something can always go wrong. I’m just thankful I’m able to do what I do.”

Eller’s time of 16:24 was 15 seconds ahead of Cierniak (16:39), who placed second. Walters (16:41) and Ray (16:53) ended up third and fourth, respectively, helping the Bulldogs capture the team title and qualify for Saturday’s CP Regional, along with the teams from Hobart, Andrean, Lowell and Merrillville.

“I’m not surprised,” CP coach Keith Iddings said. “They’ve been running really well and putting in all the effort. It’s great to see it really paying off for us on a day like today.”

Jacob Langbehn, CP’s fourth runner, placed eighth overall as the Dogs placed five runners in the top 15 en route to winning their 22nd sectional.

“That’s been the key — where our fourth and fifth runners finish,” Iddings said.

Walters said another key was handling the wind.

“We knew the wind was going to be a factor, so we didn’t want to go out too fast,” Walters said. “We wanted to go out easy — take it out at our own pace. We went out with Merrillville’s (Tyler Gray). We knew we’d have to push each other throughout the race to go faster, because of the wind. We were switching off (shielding) the wind to give each other a break.”

On the girls side, Hobart’s Celena Guerrero and teammate Mindy Widden finished one-two, but the Brickies placed third as a team (80) behind Hebron (73) and first-place Crown Point (47).

“I felt pretty good throughout the whole race today,” Guerrero said after winning her first sectional title. “Usually, there’s a point where I feel exhausted and drained, but it never happened.”

Guerrero said her strategy to play the race over in her head and think positively, helped her a lot.

“I wasn’t sure how Becca (Conley) was feeling, so I wanted to stay in a pack with her and Mindy,” Guerrero said. “My strategy was to stay in a pack with them and then pull away. For the most part, that’s what I did.”

The other two teams advancing to the regional were Merrillville and Andrean.

It was the seventh straight sectional title and 16th overall for CP.

“We knew Hobart was going to be a very big challenge for us, so we’re excited to win,” first-year CP coach Kevin Piaskowy said. “We knew we had to try and really use our pack to put some of our girls in front of those two Hobart girls out front.”

Andrean’s Conley, last year’s medalist, placed a surprisingly low 14th.

“I’m just happy the team got out and I still advanced individually, so that’s fine,” she said. “I’ll be fine Saturday.”



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