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Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: Chesterton’s Brian Carden

Post-Tribune girls cross country coach year Brian Carden Chesterton. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

Post-Tribune girls cross country coach of the year Brian Carden of Chesterton. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Honorable mention

Andrean: Becca Conley; Calumet: Danielle Smar; Chesterton: Kassidy Scott, Rosie Biehl, Melanie Buckmaster; Crown Point: Kayla McGurk, Allison Carpenter, Hannah Wallace, Alexis Carpenter, Allison Wortel; Hebron: Payton Schatz, Lexie Schatz, Abby Getautas; Highland: Amber Przyborski, Fanny Davalos; Hobart: Celena Guerrero; Kankakee Valley: Allison Rockley, Brittany Steep, Kaylin Orsburn; LaCrosse: Taylor Guse; Lake Central: Megan Zajac, Sarah Hudi, Jade Tazbir, Zoe Carroll, Tatiana Lazic, Alaina Willis; Lowell: Sarah Edwards, Sarah Wieser; Merrillville: Victoria Collins, Kara Phillips; Munster: Emily McNicholas, Rebecca Karnezis, Colleen Ogren, Mykaela Burton; North Judson: Kendall Gardner, Olivia Lickwar; North Newton: Kaila Moskalick; Portage: Paige Pizer; Rensselaer: Riley Hickman, Morgan Garrity, LeeAllison Korniak; Valparaiso: Michaela Gazdich, Sydnye Nosbusch, Elizabeth Joll; West Side: Troynesha Sago; Wheeler: Kelly O’Shea

Updated: January 7, 2013 1:27PM



Brian Carden would rather forget the way Chesterton’s 2012 girls cross country season started.

It’s the finish the Trojans head coach will always remember fondly.

“On paper, I thought we were looking pretty good heading into the season,’’ he said. “We had some veterans coming back. Some people, though, didn’t put in the miles necessary over the summer and they faltered. Some of the athletes we were counting on didn’t really end up in our top seven.

“The summer was a little frustrating at times in terms of just getting them out and doing what they should have done the whole summer. There was a little drama, since some did what they were supposed to do and some didn’t.’’

After some choice words and encouragement from Carden, nearly everyone was on the same page.

“I told them championship teams are made during the offseason and you have to put the time in,’’ he said. “Once our top seven and 12 were figured out, they started running and working well together, and we had a nice season.’’

The Trojans went 5-2 in the rugged Duneland Athletic Conference — losing only to Lake Central (without Haley Cushway) and league champion Valparaiso.

Chesterton finished in the top five at the New Prairie Invite, took second at the DAC meet and sectional, won the NP Regional and placed fourth at the NP Semistate.

The team reached its goal of qualifying for state for the first time since 2007.

Four straight years of disappointment at semistate suddenly turned to utter joy, happiness and tears.

The semistate drought had ended.

The Trojans finished ninth in 2008, placed sixth in 2009 — but ended up 10th after a timing chip mixup — and finished seventh in both 2010 and 2011.

At the state meet, the Trojans showed they belonged among the state’s elite, placing 16th overall.

Considering all his team’s accomplishments, Carden was an easy choice as the Post-Tribune’s Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year.

“It was a very fun year,’’ he said. “They’re great kids and fun to work with and they understand the program. That’s what made it all work. As the season progressed, we continued to improve.’’

“It was so rewarding to go to state,’’ said Trojans senior Sam Giordano, who had been plagued by injuries most of her career, but was one of four Chesterton runners to earn All-DAC honors.

“If you would have asked me this summer, I would not have even expected to be in the top seven and make it to state. It was so much more than a personal achievement — it was a team achievement. It was absolutely very memorable and rewarding.’’

Melanie Buckmaster said Carden was a little bit different this season.

“He was pretty tough on us this year, but he’s too nice to be too mean,’’ the senior laughed. “He was a lot more strict, though. We hadn’t been to state in five years. Myself and some of the other girls trained hard over the summer to get ready for the season. It was the hardest some of us had worked in a long time.

“Coach changed some things with our workouts and stuff. We got up to four tempo miles twice a week. In the past, the most we got up to by the end of the summer, was three. He kept us with our Ks, too, and those really helped. Yeah, the beginning of the year was a little rough — I sprained my ankle the second week — but it all worked out in the end.’’



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