Boys cross country: Valpo wins third straight semistate title
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org October 20, 2012 11:42PM
Morgan Township's Alec Kostelnik (middle) and Valparaiso's Ari Coulopoulos (right) lead out the start of the boys race during the New Prairie boys and girls cross country semistate held at New Prairie High School on Saturday October 20, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 22, 2012 6:56AM
NEW CARLISLE — Cross country may be an individual sport for the most part, but when it comes to the postseason, teamwork makes the dream work.
That philosophy can also include runners not on the same team.
Take Saturday’s effort by Morgan Township’s Alec Kostelnik and Valparaiso’s Ari Coulopoulos as an example. Despite not being on the same team, the two admitted they stayed together much of the New Prairie Semistate, which was made more difficult by several days of rain in the past week making the course muddy in key spots.
The unlikely teamwork led to Kostelnik winning the race after finishing second the previous year, and Coulopoulos finishing sixth to lead the Vikings to their third straight boys semistate title with 45 points.
Like last year, Kostelnik was fighting a sinus infection leading up to the race. But, with a black Breathe Right strip on his nose, the senior pulled ahead of Warsaw’s Jacob Poyner in the final 800 meters.
“It seemed to help,” Kostelnik said about the strip. “I kind of just made my move. We were battling and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I was thinking about winning from the start and I executed my plan perfectly. Me and Ari actually worked together. This is huge going into (state finals).”
Coulopoulos was more than willing to help Kostelnik indirectly since it helped his team dominate again.
“When you have guys around that you know, familiar faces, it’s nice,” Coulopoulos said. “But (Kostelnik) just kind of blew me away (at the end).”
Right behind Coulopoulos wearing the familiar green and white of the Vikings was Taylor Bisacchi in seventh, Landon Davison in 10th and Peyton Reed in 12th. It’s the usual Valparaiso pack mentality that has worked to perfection this postseason.
“It wasn’t our one, two and three who got us through today,” Valparaiso coach Mike Prow said. “It was our four, five and six (which included Pat Dalton in 18th and Andrew Lyp in 21st). All of our guys, from the best to the seventh, should be a 30-second gap. Ari got off really fast. Our top three guys want to win — they look at other kids’ times at other meets. But we told them (in the summer) if they do everything the coaches say to do, we’ll have a successful season.”
Other teams that can claim successful seasons by advancing to the state finals were Hobart in fourth and Lowell in sixth place. The Brickies got a great effort by Brent Dunn (11th) in reaching their second straight state finals after going 39 years in between trips.
Led by Kyle Eller’s third-place finish, the Red Devils survived a very close battle for the last state qualifying spot with 209 points — one better than Munster and two better than Crown Point. Brian Blaylock was Lowell’s No. 2 runner in 19th.
Alex Ray did advance for the Bulldogs individually in 15th, just behind Wheeler’s Joel O’Shea. LaPorte’s Anthony Didion also moved on in ninth place.