LIGONIER – Once more, the kid who used to hate running ran them off their feet.
Once more, the team gunning for a three-peat repeated its familiar act.
Form held Saturday at the West Noble Cross Country Regional, where the course and day were different but the storylines were not. Izaiah Steury of Angola, who once regarded running as punishment, punished the boys field again, chewing up the ground with his effortless stride as he joined Homestead freshman sensation Addison Knoblauch as easy individual winners.
Meanwhile, the Carroll girls, two-time defending state champions, won the regional title by 21 points, putting three runners in the top five and four in the top nine without their No. 1 runner, Zoe Duffus, who once again sat out the regional round. Concordia's girls finished second while the order was reversed in the boys race, with Concordia winning the team title and Carroll finishing second.
The Concordia boys repeated their sectional win from last week, outdistancing Carroll 49-79 by packing four runners between 10th and 17th.
“I thought both groups found each other well out there on the course and again executed the game plan of what we wanted to do,” Concordia coach Scott Steffen said. “It was just do what we have to do (to) move on and advance.”
Ditto for the Carroll girls, who came in with just 49 points, and barely noticed the obvious target on their backs.
“I think the kids actually embrace it,” Carroll coach Phil Yoder said. “They like being the hunted. It's something they take a great deal of pride in and it motivates them; they don't want to be the group that breaks the string.”
Steury's string, meanwhile, was never in danger. Shaking off Westview's Spencer and Remington Carpenter early, he matched Knoblauch by leading wire-to-wire, shaking his fist as he rolled through the finishing chute in 15:20.49, 35 seconds clear of Spencer Carpenter.
“Yes, I do (like being the front-runner),” Steury said. “I like to keep my pace for me as a leader, and if they try to come with me they will and if they don't, they won't. That's really how I do my strategy. “
Advancing to next week's Huntington Semistate were Carroll, Concordia, Homestead, Leo and Bishop Dwenger on the girls side, and Concordia, Carroll, Homestead, Dwenger and Westview on the boys side.