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Cross country: A weekend of opportunity

Updated: November 30, 2012 6:28AM



TERRE HAUTE — The IHSAA Cross Country State Finals provided plenty of opportunities for athletes this weekend. For standout runners like Morgan Township’s Alec Kostelnik and Lowell’s Kyle Eller, is was an opportunity to add an exclamation point to a pair of outstanding high school careers. Each runner did just that, with Eller finishing fifth and Kostelnik finishing 11th.

“He’s been a spectacular runner,” Lowell head coach Jake Rakoczy said of Eller. “He’s been better and better each year and that says a lot about his preparation and dedication to a tough sport.”

For teams like Valparaiso’s girls squad, it was an opportunity to learn how to race in big events.

“We talked about learning from this,” said Valparaiso head coach Boomer Nellessen, whose young team was unable to get out to a fast start, resulting in a 15th-place finish. “We can talk and talk about it until we’re blue in the face, but when you’ve got such a young team, they have to figure it out on their own.”

For other teams, the weekend served as a chance to take in the state finals atmosphere for the first time in five years.

“I appreciated this one way more than the other three appearances,” said Chesterton girls head coach Brian Carden, whose team competed for the first time since 2007. “Now we need to rebuild and get back to this race next year.”

For several of the runners on that Chesterton squad, it was an opportunity to compete one final time.

“We had a great time down here, especially the seniors, with this being our last race,” said Chesterton senior Hannah Hoffman. “It was great just to get here after two years of being in seventh place at semi-state.”

For teams like Lowell, it was a completely new experience.

“I told our guys that, during the race, when you get to the top of a hill, take a look around. Enjoy this experience,” said Rakoczy, who saw his team compete in the program’s first-ever state finals.

“It was just awesome,” said Lowell junior Brian Blaylock. “Having an announcer calling out runners names as they were crossing the finish line ... it was all really cool.”



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