The South Warren girls’ cross country team is off and running after claiming the team title at the Purple Strider Invitational on Saturday at Kereiakes Park.
Anchored by Taylor Brown’s runner-up finish, South Warren placed four runners in the top six to win a second straight team title.
“Today was good,” Brown said. “It was really hot out and it was harder to get up the hills, but I think we’ve all started out really good.”
Bowling Green’s Lexie Paszkiewicz earned the individual win, finishing in a time of 20 minutes, 50 seconds. It was the first varsity win for the junior, who joined the cross country team last year.
“It’s very exciting because I know it is an extremely hard course, especially compared to courses we have done in the past,” Paszkiewicz said. “”We do this one every year, but it is still just as hard. It doesn’t make it any easier.”
Brown finished 15 seconds behind Paszkiewicz, setting the pace for a strong team finish. Brown’s teammate Ryleigh Johnson finished fourth, Megan Kitchens was fifth and Brooklyn Wilkins was sixth.
Brown said the team was prepared for the hilly course.
“Before we start racing, we really practice for the hills because that is usually the hardest part,” Brown said. “That’s where we try to get ahead.”
Warren East’s Emma Steff finished third with a time of 21:16.
Bowling Green finished second in the team standings. Greenwood – aided by top-10 finishes from Kaydee Wooldridge and Alexi Lancette – finished third.
On the boys’ side, Greenwood’s Cole Jackson earned the individual win with a time of 17:05 – 21 seconds better than runner-up Thomas Ashby from Apollo.
“I thought the race went well,” Jackson said. “It got hard toward the end, but it was a good race other than that.
“I was looking to go out slower, but the race ended up being slower than I wanted it to go so I ended up going on my own. (This win) gave me a lot of confidence to go out and run my own race.”
Warren East’s Will Lovell finished third, with teammate Garrett Elrod the next highest local finisher – placing seventh.
Apollo earned the team title, edging Greenwood. Warren East finished third, while Bowling Green placed fourth.