Vikings XC Shows No Mercy in First Home Meet

By: Ryan McCormick Last Updated: August 25, 2010

"On your mark, get set, go!" The VHS Boys and Girls Cross Country team held its first home meet at Sunset Hill Farm on August 24, 2010. Eight other teams toed the line with the Vikings including Hebron, Boone Grove, Wheeler, Kouts, Gary West Side, MC Marquette, Morgan Township, and Westville. Both the boys and girls teams have great potential this year and each team's goal is to reach the state meet.

The start of the girl's race presented pretty pleasant conditions at 80 degrees with no wind and Valpo took control putting their top girls all near the front in Katelyn DeVries, Erica Wirsing, Tiffany Fortney, and Tricia Joll.

"I think they performed better than at their first week last week," explained Girls Head Coach, Karen DeVries. "I saw a better effort and more team packing
going on than I did before."

The younger DeVries caught Jordan Chester, the Boone Grove standout, halfway through the race and set the pace. Meanwhile, Lauren Bigger, Fortney, and the rest of a pack that included a Hebron and Wheeler runner almost took a wrong turn but were quickly corrected by the crowd at the turn-around tree.

The girls made a loop again through the hilly farmland and made their way to the finish line. DeVries came out of the hedge in first place with 100 meters to go but was passed up at the last second by the girl that was running with her almost the whole race, Jordan Chester. They finished 19:51 and 19:52 respectively. The next four for Valpo came down the stretch strong, finishing five runners in the top 8 with Erica Wirsing (3rd, 20:33), Tiffany Fortney (5th, 20:59), Lauren Bigger (6th, 21:18), and Tricia Joll (8th, 21:37).

On the other side of the farm, the boy's race was about to begin and some people were very anxious for it to start. "Most of the Hebron guys were out pretty quick especially in the first 200-300 meters," explained Boys Head Coach, Mike Prow. "Our guys were back 10th-15th...[they] were running very sensible." And very packed. Through the first mile, Valpo had a monstrous 7 person pack made up of Reed, Bobos, Dalton, Schwartz, Banks, Hamer, and Stiscak.

"Our goal is to try to keep our pack together especially when we don't have Ahmad [Alobeh] (#1 runner), and we didn't have our #5 runner running today either," said Prow.

Alobeh, a Muslim, has been observing the religious holiday of Ramadan, which means he can't consume any liquids or food during the day, and
the other runner was out due to a sprained ankle.

By the time the Valpo boys reached the final 200 meters, there was virtually no one in sight with the first five runners being Valpo [Reed (1st, 17:09), Bobos (2nd, 17:22), Dalton (3rd, 17:45), Schwartz (4th, 17:47), Banks (5th, 17:50)], and all except for a few other runners, the top 10 were all green and white [Hamer (8th, 18:28), Coulopoulos (9th, 18:28), Stiscak (10th, 18:43)]. "For not having two of our top 5 guys in the race and still finishing with five guys in the first 5 places of the day, [that's pretty good]," assured Prow. With that kind of talent and with the largest boys team in Valparaiso Cross Country history (41), the sky is the limit for this relatively young team (12 freshman, 18 sophomores).

"We would like to be top 10 at state," said Prow. "[If] our guys grow and mature a little bit and learn how to keep racing like that with a pack, we might have a chance at cracking the top 5 [at state]."

Check out a bunch more photos from the the boys and girls race! Also, be sure to check out the girls and boys photo slideshows!