Photos courtesy of Melissa Kissling
Harrison Phipps, Jacob Kissling, Sam Lechlitner, Sam Slough, Garrett Hall and Tanner Stiver placed 16th as a team in the IHSAA?State Cross-Country Finals in Terre Haute on Saturday.
Photos courtesy of Melissa Kissling Harrison Phipps, Jacob Kissling, Sam Lechlitner, Sam Slough, Garrett Hall and Tanner Stiver placed 16th as a team in the IHSAA?State Cross-Country Finals in Terre Haute on Saturday.
Warsaw’s Head Cross-Country Coach Jim Mills said he was was “thrilled to death” with how his team fared at the State Cross-Country Finals in Terre Haute on Saturday.

The Tigers finished 16th and outran last weekend’s Semi-State champion Chesterton in the process.

“Our goal was top 15 and we were only 3 points out of 15th place and just 11 points out of 14th place,”?Mills said. “And we actually beat Chesterton who won our Semi-State meet last weekend.”

“We were pretty happy when you stop and think that out of more than 420 schools who start the season we end up among the top 16 in the state. I’ll take that any year.”

Jacob Kissling ran 16:33 to place 60th, 44th in team scoring, which Mills said is within 5 or 6 seconds of his best time.

“We had some other guys run solid times on a fairly challenging course,” Mills added. “It was not an easy course. They’d had some rain so it was a little soft in spots and it’s always windy there.”

“Jacob ran a really great, consistent race like we’ve seen him do all year. The rest of the guys just followed suit and even though the overall times were a little bit slower than last week that was pretty much how the meet was as far as times. Our guys ran just as well Saturday as they did the week before.”

“Sometimes being at the state meet intimidates runners and they just kind of fall apart from the pressure but our guys ran pretty darn consistent Saturday and we’re thrilled to death.”

Mills said the later start to his team’s training caused by pandemic-related closures and cancellations may have actually helped his team. A shorter training season and fewer meets means fewer injuries and as  a result the team was able to stay healthy all year.

“I’m a low-impact training type of coach so for me, the fewer races we have to run during the season, the better,” he explained.

Lady Tigers 24th

The Warsaw girls didn’t fare quite as well, ending up in 24th place but just making it to the State Finals was something Head Coach Jason Flemng said the community can be very proud of.

“We were glad to be there. I feel that we probably ran our best race the week before (at Semi-State) to make it to the state meet,” Fleming said. “We had been running some of our kids at a high level more than I wanted to but due to some injuries and other circumstances outside our control we had to ask a lot out of them but they stepped up when they needed to and as always I’m real proud of what they’ve done.”

The Lady Tigers got a late start to training this year due to the COVID?pandemic. In a normal year, training begins in early June. Not knowing if the season would be allowed to continue made things difficult as well.

“Since our first meet of the year, the Tiger Invite in August, I’ve told our kids to go out and run like this could be the last meet of the year, since because of the virus situation we don’t know what the future holds for us,”?Fleming explained.  “To be able to make it through the entire season and reach the pinnacle of state competition in our sport, that’s saying a lot about what the kids were able to do and the path that we had to take to get there.”

“I was really excited for the girls and we were supported very well by the community and the school corporation and staff all year.”

“I feel like the girls gave it their best. It may not have been the best race of the year but I feel that they represented their school and the Warsaw community very well.”

As the majority of the squad were underclassmen this year, Fleming is hoping for an even stronger team next season, adding that most of them will also compete in track next spring, barring any additional pandemic closures.