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La Porte girls 22nd, City’s Berg 28th at state

October 31, 2016 GMT

TERRE HAUTE — No, this isn’t what the La Porte girls cross country team had in mind.

A 22nd place finish at the IHSAA girls state cross country finals was not part of the plan for this season, which began with so many high hopes.

“We obviously had high expectations at the start, and things just didn’t work out the way we hoped,” Slicers coach John Dearing said after Saturday’s meet in Terre Haute. “But you know, we came a long way at the end.”

Something to consider: La Porte just made its fourth consecutive trip to the girls state finals. Most teams in Indiana weren’t there at all.

Something else to consider: There were lots of bright spots. Next year, the Slicers just need to string them all together at the same time.

Shelby Riehle, for instance, had a great race Saturday, finishing 11th to become the second-highest female finisher in La Porte history. She’s only a sophomore. Only Elena Lancioni, who finished third in 2013, ever placed higher.

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And while the Slicers graduate Catharine Pickford and Roby Rogers, most of this state finalist squad returns next year.

Conditions on the LaVern-Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Sports Center were anything but ideal, with temperatures in the 80’s and gusting winds blanketing the 5,000-meter course.

Riehle finished in 18:43.6, struggling up the long uphill homestretch. But an aggressive early pace enabled her to earn automatic All-State status from the Indiana Association of Track & Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC).

“The wind didn’t bother me too much, because we face that up north, but the heat was a little unexpected,” said Riehle. “I didn’t worry too much about the time.”

With a thousand meters to go, Riehle was running in seventh place, then came the final turn onto the homestretch.

“I was telling myself, ‘Shelby, don’t fade,’” said Riehle, who earned a spot on the IHSAA awards stand with her finish. “I was able to pass a couple girls but a few others got me. I could tell my form was getting a little crazy.”

After Riehle, almost two minutes passed before the next La Porte girl came in. Katerina Shuble, a junior, finished 124th in 20:35.2 as La Porte’s No. 2 finisher.

“I ran about a minute slower than I did last week, so no, I don’t feel like the race went well,” said Shuble. "My legs just locked up after (3,000 meters).”

Catherine Pickford was 133rd in 20:42.3, followed by Maureen Troy, 159th in 21:11.5.

Rogers was 178th, Jenny Noll 188th and Rachel Gerick 19th to wrap up the Slicer scoring.

“La Porte’s girls have only been to state six times, and these girls have been here four years in a row,” said Dearing. “We can be proud of that. Except for maybe one or two girls, I think we ran the best race we could.”

Michigan City’s Bryon Berg has been selected for the Indiana All-Star boys cross country team following his 28th place finish.

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Berg, a senior, covered the 5,000-meter state meet course in 16 minutes, 23.3 seconds, as the top finisher from the Duneland Athletic Conference.

It wasn’t his best race of the season, but then again, few runners performed really well Saturday. Temperatures in the 80’s – in late October, no less – and gusting winds blanketed the Wabash Valley Sports Center in Terre Haute, playing havoc with the field. Several runners collapsed as they neared the finish line.

"It was rough. I felt bad after (3,000 meters) but I did the best that I could do," said Berg, who had mixed emotions after his finish. "I’m happy I made the All-Star team, but I wish I could have done better today."

Berg was notified of his All-Star selection shortly after finishing the race. He will compete in the Mideast All-Star Championships in Kettering, Ohio, on Nov. 19.

Berg’s finish was the best-ever by a Michigan City Wolves’ runner in the boys state meet. The previous best was Dan Westphal’s 47th-place effort in 1997.

Nevertheless, Berg was not happy with his performance.

“I’m not entirely sure what went wrong,” said Berg. “It just wasn’t a good race. I didn’t feel right.”