NORTH MANCHESTER - The Warsaw boys and girls cross country teams fought through some rough conditions Saturday morning to take home a pair of sectional titles at the Manchester sectional. The boys won with a team score of 36 while the girls brought home the title with a 49.
Each Tiger team was headlined by a fantastic performance. Sophomore Jackson Gackenheimer, who has consistently been a top-five finisher all season long, put together a terrific race, taking first place with a time of 15:54.4. On the girls side, senior and Indiana University commit Joey Rastrelli continued to dominate her opponents, taking first place with a 18:09.2 time, nearly 40 seconds faster than Huntington North’s Alice Friesen, who came in second.
Warsaw's Jackson Gackenheimer is all smiles as he crosses the finish line in first place. Photo by Gary Nieter
Gackenheimer and Rastrelli were not the only top finishers among the Tigers. For the boys, Tyler Swartz took fifth place while Tyler Mimnaugh took seventh to make it three Warsaw runners in the top 10. Clark Meridew, Andrew Potter and Rick Orr all finished right next to each other at 11-13. Joey’s younger sister Sammi Rastrelli also finished in the top 10 of the girls race, taking seventh. Marissa Howett finished just outside the top 10 at 12 to round out the top three for the Lady Tigers.
Warsaw wasn’t the only local team to advance to regionals with a stellar performance on Saturday. Both the Manchester boys and girls teams will compete at New Haven next week after earning fifth and fourth place finishes respectively. The Squires were Kyler Dale, who earned a top ten finish in the boys race, placing ninth, and Ayla Cashdollar, who took fourth in the girls race. Cashdollar’s teammate Kadence Fox also earned a top-ten finish, placing sixth.
Along with the team successes enjoyed on Saturday, a few local teams advanced individuals who put together outstanding performances. Tippecanoe Valley, which finished 10th in the boys race and seventh in the girls as a team, will advance three athletes. On the girls side, Chesnee Miller continued an incredible senior season with an eighth place finish and will head to New Haven alongside teammate Bailey Bussard. Christopher Marquez will represent the Vikings in the boys race. Triton’s Jocelynn Faulkner will also be making the trip after finishing 23rd overall. The Trojans finished ninth in the girls race and eleventh in the boys.
Joey Rastrelli of Warsaw finishes well ahead of rest of the field to win the girls' race. Photo by Gary Nieter
Elsewhere, the Wawasee cross country team competed at the Elkhart sectional on Saturday, with the boys and girls each placing seventh. Despite not qualifying as a team. The Warriors were still able to send six athletes to Saturday’s regional race. Hunter Allen, Mason Worrell, Isaac Winters and JD Stoffel will represent the boys while Mia Hodgson and Jasmine Hernandez will compete in the girls race.
Warsaw, Manchester and the individuals from the Manchester sectional will compete at the New Haven regional on Saturday morning while the Wawasee advancers from the Elkhart sectional will compete at New Prairie.