The New Prairie Invitational is one of the largest races in the area. When you walk behind the school you are amazed at the number of school tents you see littered across the field. Banners are waving in the wind, parents are checking on their runners, and coaches are giving last minute instructions. 29 teams were in the boys’ varsity race alone.
Not only are your eyes on your own runners, but those who are favored to win. Close to the beginning of the race, the runners go to their boxes and take their final runouts and the spectators find their spot to watch the race. Next thing you know, the gun goes off and you feel like you are watching a million runners take off. There were 29 teams in the Boys AAA race and 187 runners finishing.
This year the Boys AAA winner was La Porte's Anthony Didion. Didion just came off a win at the Bob Thomas Invitational. The winning time for the Slicer was 15:56.6. Didion came across the finish line first with a decent lead over 2nd place finisher Jacob Timmons from S.B. Adams whose time was 16:01:6. Other top finishers in the men’s race were: Brian Blaylock from Lowell in 4th, Ari Coulopoulos from Valpo in 6th, Ryan Kritzer from Munster in 7th with teammate Tom Bolanowski in 8th. Tyler Hudson from Portage rounded out the top 10 with a time of 16:24:5.
Anthony Didion came through the finish gates looking like he could run the race again.
Didion stated, "The race started out a lot slower then I thought it was going to. I felt good through the race and tried to finish strong."
He was very happy about placing first this year. Both Anthony and Elena Lancioni of La Porte took first giving them a double victory today.
Placing first in the team standings was Valparaiso, with a team score of 85. Ari Coulopoulos, Andrew Jankowski, Corey Alfredson, Danny Dalton, Kevin Hickey and Jacob Chapman stepped up to the line to received their trophy and plaque. 2nd place honors went to Portage with a score of 114, 3rd was Northridge with 119, 4th La Porte with 152 and 5th was Munster with 160.
Lowell's Brian Blaylock said, "I had a pretty good race. My strategy was to stay with the lead runners and to finish out the race strong, I felt good throughout the race and I'm happy with my 4th place."
The girls’ race was exciting as well. Top honors for the Girls AAA race went to Elena Lancioni from La Porte. Elena won with a time of 18:09.7. She and teammate Anthony Didion both won the Bob Thomas Invitational and repeated the double victory again. Teammate Kailee Schoof was the 2nd La Porte runner in coming in 6th overall.
2nd place in the girls AAA went to Maddie Woods of Penn with a time of 18:25.1. Coming in first for the Hobart Brickies was Sr. Celena Guerrero. Her time was 19.18.5 taking 8th place. Teammate Mindy Whidden came in 21st with a time of 19:51.1.
“My strategy was to get to mile 1 and 2 at 6 minutes each and to do the best I could during mile 3." Guerrero said. “I'm really happy with 8th.”
Taking first for the girls in the team standings was Penn with 93 pts, La Porte was 2nd with 137, 3rd was Portage with 138, Northridge was 4th with 142 and 5th was Lake Central.
Most runners commented that racing conditions today were great for racing. Congratulations to all the runners and their teams!