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Girls cross country: LaPorte’s Elena Lancioni finishes third at state

LaPorte's ElenLanciioni (right) heads for finish line as she overtakes HamiltSoutheastern's Rachel Nichwitz for third place during Boys girls cross

LaPorte's Elena Lanciioni (right) heads for the finish line as she overtakes Hamilton Southeastern's Rachel Nichwitz for third place during the Boys and girls cross country state finals in Terre Haute on Saturday November 2, 2013. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 4, 2013 6:47AM



TERRE HAUTE — Elena Lancioni didn’t earn the Mental Attitude Award after Saturday’s girls cross country state final at LaVern Gibson Championship Course, but she could have been awarded Miss Congeniality.

Just like every other race she has run in her four years, right after the LaPorte senior crossed the finish line in an impressive third place, she caught her breath quickly, then congratulated almost every other runner.

Many of her fellow runners were using the metal chairs to compose themselves after a tough race. But there was Lancioni with her trademark smile, moving around as if she was just out for a walk in the park.

It helped that she ended her career by improving 13 spots from her 16th-place effort last year.

“It was a great experience — I can’t tell you how amazing this feels,” she said. “It’s been an amazing journey.”

With about a mile to go, Lancioni was in sixth before passing three runners, including a good friend of hers, Hamilton Southeastern’s Rachel Nichwitz, right at the line.

“I fought to pass her and she fought back and I had just enough,” Lancioni said. “I just wanted to give the best race I could in my last cross country race.”

She still competes in track and field in the spring, but she admitted cross country is her favorite. And she also has Slicers bragging rights after finishing one place better than fellow LaPorte senior Anthony Didion (fourth).

“I had to represent,” she joked.

Lancioni’s effort, as well as a 48th-place effort from sophomore Kailee Schoof, helped the Slicers finish 10th overall in their first state finals appearance since 1999.

“I was pleased with the way we ran,” LaPorte coach John Dearing said. “We had real good times, a real good effort. Our goal all year was to get here, but I told them we had to keep adjusting our goals.”

And that led to the best Northwest Indiana effort in the boys and girls races.

Portage coach Jay White was also happy with his team’s 15th-place finish.

“We ran well and packed it up like we have all year,” he said of the Indians placing four girls between 95th (Kyra Ball) and 115th (Rhyan Sloan) with Rebecca Timm (97th) and Paige Pizer (111th) in between. Three of those four ran at state last year when Portage finished 21st (Timm is a freshman).

“Some of the older girls really stepped up in training in the offseason,” White said. “They really wanted to race well here this year.”

Finishing her cross country career with an 85th-place effort was Hobart’s Celena Guerrero, who had finished 20th as a freshman before injury setbacks the last two years. Valparaiso senior Michaela Gazdich was 68th, while Lake Central was 22nd as a team, led by Sarah Hunsley’s 94th-place finish.

Carmel made it a clean sweep by also taking the girls title, led by first-place finisher Kelcy Welch with a time of 17:53.9.



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