VALPARAISO — On a soggy and muddy course at Sunset Farms in Valparaiso last Saturday morning, several local cross-country runners earned the right to compete at the Oct. 23 semistate, which will again be held at New Prairie, a course likely to be even soggier and muddier.

Kankakee Valley advanced three runners in sophomore Emma Bell, senior Justin Hoffman and sophomore Ethan Ehrhardt, while Covenant Christian will send two: senior Jonah Ingram and junior Gabbi Zeilenga.

Rensselaer Central also placed three into the next round with junior Tristen Wuethrich, senior Amzie Maienbrook and junior Elizabeth Knoth advancing.

The top 10 individuals from non-advancing teams and the first 5 qualifying teams from each regional advance to designated semistates.

The semistate will include runners from four regionals, including Crown Point, Culver Academies, Harrison (West Lafayette) and Chesterton.

Last Saturday’s Chesterton Regional hosted runners who qualified from the New Prairie and Rensselaer Central sectionals.

Advancing as teams on the boys’ side from Chesterton were Valparaiso with 53 points, LaPorte (67), Chesterton (75), Morgan Township (89) and Portage (134). KV was seventh with 190 points, Rensselaer Central was eighth with 213 and CCHS was 10th with 265. There were 89 competitors in the boys’ race.

In the girls’ race, Chesterton won with 49 points while Valpo had 52, LaPorte had 85, Morgan Township had 122 and Portage had 135. RC was seventh with 183 points, KV was ninth with 229 and CCHS was 10th with 250 points.

There were 88 entrants in the girls’ race.

For the local boys, Hoffman finished second overall with a blistering time of 16 minutes, 25.7 seconds. He was beaten by repeat medalist Cole Raymond of LaPorte, who crossed in just 16:06.4.

Wuethrich was eighth overall in 16:43.0, Ehrhardt was 32nd in 17:47.9 and Ingram finished 37th overall in 17:59.9.

“Justin ran where we expected,” explained KV coach Tim Adams. “We put him in a good position to challenge at the top this week; he will continue to be a threat next week. He’s not slipping in under anyone’s radar, that’s for sure.”

Hoffman’s 16:25 marks his third fastest career time for a 5K. Ehrhardt, meanwhile, qualified for his second semistate in as many years.

“Ethan puts a lot of pressure on himself,” said Adams, “but he handled it well, even though he’s been fighting through some breathing issues. His race was nothing if not gutsy.”

Wuethrich will be competing in his third semistate, while Ingram qualified for his first. Last week’s Rensselaer Sectional champion, senior Owen Thomas of Morgan Township, finished behind Wuethrich in ninth place (16:51.2).

Other runners scoring for the Bombers included Tom Van Hoose (51st), Oden Van Hoose (52nd), Jack Boer (68th) and Conner Parker, who placed 74th in his final cross country race.

Luke Bristol was the third runner to finish for KVHS (46th), with teammates Xavier De La Paz Marino (73rd) and Ethan Kelly (78th) also scoring. Hunter Drain was 50th for Covenant and Nathan Bennett finished 61st.

North Newton’s Ryan Williams was 63rd overall and South Newton’s Tristen Barricks finished 65th. West Central brothers Drake (59th) and Hayden Fritz (67th) also competed.

For the local ladies, RC’s Maienbrook was ninth overall, finishing in 19:56.6, while Bell finished 14th overall in 20:24.8, Zeilenga was 30th in 21:24.0 and Knoth was 36th in 21:54.0.

The overall winner for the girls was New Prairie’s Lillian Zelasko, who smoked the course in 18:32.9.

Maienbrook will compete in her fourth semistate with her eyes locked on her first trip downstate. She was followed in team scoring by Knoth, who will compete in her first semi state, Audrey Korniak (47th), Solcy Sanchez (48th) and Audrey Davisson (52nd).

KVHS’s Bell was joined on her team scorecard by Addison Johnson (59th), Emilee Wilson (54th), Natalie Walker (62nd) and Juliana Barlog (71st). Covenant’s competitors included Zeilenga, Sophie Bakker (46th), Claire Bakker (63rd), Hannah Frump (65th) and Abby Talarek (72nd). North Newton’s top runner was Selena Jones, who as a freshman finished 68th in her first race. South Newton’s veteran runner, Delaney Farmer, was 68th.

New Prairie, which many runners list as their favorite course in Indiana, if not in the entire Midwest, features insane hill climbs, ravine descents, creek beds and wooden bridges. The semistate races will be held at 10:30 a.m. (boys) and 11:15 a.m. (girls).

The top 10 individuals from non-advancing teams and the first six qualifying teams from each semistate shall advance to the state finals.

, which will again be held at LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute the following Saturday.

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