The usual suspects won team titles at Northrop cross country sectional on Saturday morning: Concordia claimed its third straight boys title with 58 points, and Carroll's girls defeated Homestead, 44 points to 49, to keep alive a title streak that started in 2000.
But there were new faces among the top individual runners: Columbia City senior Austin Hall won the boys race in 16:24.3, beating runner-up Robert Lohman of Carroll by 11.5 seconds. In the girls race, sophomore Addison Knoblauch of Homestead won in 19:07.9, beating fellow sophomore Alexa Panning of Concordia by just over 45 seconds.
Both Hall and Knob-lauch broke away from the pack early and led nearly all of the muddy race.
“That was very difficult, it was hard all the way through, but I knew that I was feeling pretty good today so I was going to be able to break a lot of people,” Hall said. “I started out fast and kept the hammer down, and it felt pretty good.”
Hall, who won the NE8 title, will advance to the West Noble Regional with the Eagles, who placed fourth in the team standings with 99 points. Second-place Homestead (74), third-place Carroll (77) and fifth-place Leo (113) will also race in the regional Saturday.
“I really felt like my goal for the team was to go for the victory today, I really tried to do my part,” Hall said. “It feels really good. I've never gotten a title like this before, so that's big time for me.”
Knoblauch ran about 6 seconds faster at last year's sectional, but she's confident her best races of the year are ahead of her.
“Our goal would be to make it to state, and that's still three weeks away, so it's not taper time yet,” Knoblauch said. “Obviously sectional and regional are important, but they're a little more low-key. I'm just really hoping to peak at the right time, and that's why I try not to focus on my time so much compared to last year, because last year I peaked at the beginning.”
After Knoblauch, the Spartans had Lauren Saddington, Alexis Goebel and Elise Peckinpaugh finish seventh, eighth and 10th. That was nearly enough to knock off Carroll, which was led by Taylor Hansen in fourth and Brooke Hansen in fifth and had all five scorers in the top 14.
“We were really happy to get the win, and very impressed by Homestead, because they put up a heck of a fight, they were right there with us,” Carroll coach Luke Miller said.
Northrop junior Victoria Clibon took third in 20:05.6 and will move on as an individual. Third-place Concordia (92 points), fourth-place Leo (105) and fifth-place Columbia City (153) also advanced.
Each of the boys teams that finished in second through fifth place had a runner finish before winner Concordia, but the Cadets made up for that as Gabriel Connelly, Karsten Schlegel and Daniel Adair finished in fifth, sixth and eighth place.