Winamac girls surprise themselves, make semistate
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
LOGANSPORT –- Are you surprised that the Winamac girls cross-country team qualified for semistate?
If you are, you are not alone. The runners on the team are surprised too.
The Lady Warriors finished fifth at the Logansport regional to advance.
Winamac had 141 points at the regional and beat sixth-place Western by five points to make it to New Prairie. It’s the first time in the 5K era of girls cross-country that Winamac has advanced to semistate as a team. That comes one week after their first sectional title in school history.
Start time for the semistate is 11:30 a.m. Eastern Saturday at New Prairie.
The team consists of one senior, three juniors and three freshmen.
Kate Collins is one of the juniors. She was the team’s frontrunner at Logansport with a 20:51. She also advanced to semistate as an individual in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s exciting,” Collins said. “Our team has worked really hard this season. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Collins comes from a family of exceptional runners. Her older siblings Kyle and Claire run at Indiana State. She ran a 19:34 at the 2019 New Prairie semistate, missing out on the state finals by only eight seconds and breaking Claire’s school record.
“It’s definitely something I grew up on,” Collins said. “I really love it. Our whole family loves it. It’s something we’re able to motivate each other on.”
Collins cut 28 seconds off her sectional time on the same Logansport course. She said she tapered her training in the week between sectional and regional.
“We cut back mileage and stuff and had a good attitude going into it,” Collins said. “I knew it was going to be a fast race, so I just tried my best.”
Freshman Maggie Smith didn’t know that the team would be capable of making semistate. She ran a 21:07 and finished 25th in the field of 87 runners.
“It feels really great,” Smith said. “As a freshman, I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it this far. It’s just really exciting and I’m super-proud of our team.”
Smith said the third mile is her favorite part of the 3.1-mile race.
“I’m giving it all I got and just going as hard as I can,” Smith said.
Smith said she has been running for four years. She said she’s always had a “passion” for running.
“It’s mental and physical, so it just works your mind and your body, and it’s a way to get active all the time,” Smith said.
Wegner also didn’t see the team getting this far.
“It’s super-surprising and exciting because you wouldn’t think you’d get this far as a freshman,” Wegner said. “And so, I’m pretty excited about it.”
Wegner also said the third mile is the favorite part of her race.
“It’s the most encouraging, and you want to finish the race strong,” Wegner said.
Wegner began her running career as a sixth-grader.
“It’s a sport I’m pretty good at, and it’s fun, and there’s really good team bonding, and it’s a fun sport,” Wegner said. “There’s a lot of bonding in it. Everyone does fun activities with each other. We do fun outings. We get breakfast with each other every Friday, and it’s a fun group activity where you really get to know everyone.”
Like Collins, Wegner also comes from a running family. Her brother Kolbey, a sophomore, was the Hoosier North champ and will also be running at semistate as an individual.
“It’s pretty normal,” Wegner said. “It’s nice that he’s fast. It takes the pressure off. … He likes to push me to run faster, a few miles more maybe.”
Kingsley Kroft is another of the team’s juniors. She finished 70th at the regional in 23:56.
“We put the work in all year,” Kroft said. “It’s definitely exciting.”
She credited Emily Rausch, the team’s lone senior, for her role.
“She’s a really good leader,” Kroft said of Rausch. “She keeps us going during practice. It’s pretty awesome to have just her. Besides that, we have all the juniors leading, and we have some freshmen leading too.”
Kroft might not have been as surprised by the team’s success as the freshmen were.
“We have pretty high standards this year,” Kroft said. “We expected to win conference. Sectional was definitely surprising, but we knew we could do it.”
She raved about the freshmen, which includes Smith, Wegner and Bethany Poor, who finished a few strides ahead of Kroft in 23:49.
“They mean everything to the team,” Kroft said. “They’re like the best freshmen that you can get. They’re always hard working. Sometimes when us juniors can’t really do good during practice, they keep us going. They’re pretty awesome.
Winamac junior Kate Collins runs at the Logansport regional Saturday. She ran a 20:51 and finished 16th in a field of 87 runners. Collins was the frontrunner on a Lady Warrior squad that finished fifth to earn a spot at the New Prairie semistate at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Saturday.