IHSAA Semi-State Preview: New Prairie Semi-State

Photos and the full New Prairie Semi-State Preview contributed by "Region Runner" (@regionrunner on Instagram).

It's Semi-State week here in Indiana, and on Saturday teams across the state will take their shot at qualifying for a chance to compete at the State meet. The road to state continues through four locations in Indiana with Semi-States taking place at New Prairie, Brown County, Shelbyville and Indiana Wesleyan the site of the New Haven semi-state. 

We are previewing all four semi-states throughout the week and giving in depth analysis on team and individual favorites, and scoping out which teams have the best chances of advancement to the State meet. 

Next up, the New Prairie Semi-State!

New Prairie Overview

As cross country fans across the state await the highly anticipated IHSAA Cross Country tournament, we look ahead to the upcoming semi-state weekend, one that will most definitely set the stage for the quintessential, blockbuster event on October 29th at LaVern Gibson.

The New Prairie Semi-State, bringing teams and individual runners together from the Chesterton, Crown Point, Culver and Harrison (WL) Regionals, will most certainly be an event you won't want to miss! With a multitude of story lines including top state runners in both individual races, individual multi-week battles that have been building, a deep lineup of teams fighting for the chance to advance to state and a certain team looking to take the team title grand slam, we preview what you can expect at both the girls and boys meets at New Prairie.

New Prairie Girls Preview 

The girls race at New Prairie will be one for the ages as we witness nearly ten teams battle for the golden ticket to Terre Haute and one of the state's very best runners battle against a competitive field.

Girls Individual Watch 

Expect to see Senior Lillian Zelasko, racing on her home course, to take the crown at the New Prairie Semi-State. A future runner for Western Michigan University, Zelasko brought home the Regional title last weekend with a blistering 17:55.9, her fastest time ever on New Prairie's beautiful course and almost a full minute ahead of the next runner. On Saturday, expect Warsaw junior Josefina Rastrelli to put it all out there to make her fight for this one, either resulting in a neck and neck battle down the home stretch or another record breaking time for Zelasko on her stomping grounds.

Not to be forgotten, Valparaiso Senior Cheyanne Stock, and Northwestern Junior Hannah Moore, will work to run the race of their life to contend with the senior sensation Zelasko. Looking to see the future of the girls' New Prairie Semi-State? Check out Peyton Bucher, the Morgan Township freshman phenom, who's toughness and grit will be on full display as she hopes to finish amongst the top five runners.

Although on non-advancing teams, make sure to watch Cassandra Cohen of Hobart, Courtney Adams of Northwestern, Zoe Seward of Rochester and Celeste Gram of Culver Academies who have worked hard all season, improved their times and have stellar chances to advance to Terre Haute as individuals.

Girls Team Watch

Contending for the win- Valparaiso

Likely to advance- Warsaw, Morgan Township

On the bubble- Lake Central, Chesterton, Crown Point, Maconaquah, Kouts, West Lafayette

Outside shot at advancement- Harrison, Portage

The Valparaiso girls will come ready to do their part to secure the XC Team Title Grand Slam for the Vikings: a historic moment where BOTH the girls' and boys' teams could sweep the conference, sectionals, regionals and semi-state as champions. This well coached, deep squad has the potential and are prepared for all five scorers to earn the necessary points to bring home the crown led by Cheyanne Stock and Grace Thomas.

On the heels of their Manchester Sectional and Culver Regional wins, expect Warsaw to battle it out with Morgan Township to round out the top three schools and earn themselves a trip to State.  Morgan Township, a small school with just over 400 total students, are young and ready to make a name for themselves on this big stage.

We expect an epic showdown for the final three girls' teams to advance and it really is anyone's to take. Can Crown Point keep up their scorching hot momentum from their decisive victory at the Crown Point regional to crack the top six?  Not if Lake Central has anything to say about it.  Keep an eye out for the Fighting Indians to seek revenge from Regionals to take one of the final three spots over their Crown Point rival. West Lafayette, on the backs of Henny Schminke and Annie Dunford, look to finish what they started, taking the title as the Harrison Regional champs. The smaller schools, Kouts and Maconaquah, will look to muster up all they have to show up and show out against the larger school competition for a chance to advance to the State meet.

New Prairie Boys Preview 

Similar to their girl counterparts, the boys' race highlights Valparaiso as the likely team victor, sweeping the Grand Slam of conference, sectional, regional and now semi-state champions.  We anticipate another Batman and Robin finish with the dynamic Valpo duo for the individual boys title, although there are numerous season long rivalries amongst other individual runners that will come to the head this weekend on the big stage.

Boys Individual Watch 

Like the numerous invites and postseason meets prior, we predict a 1-2 finish for the Viking duo of Jimmy Dillabaugh (senior) and Mason Nobles (sophomore) across the finish line. The famed New Prairie course is where Dillabaugh ran his fastest posted time of the year, 15:41, and we believe this deeply competitive field could push him to surpass that time on Saturday.  Don't sleep on Hanover Central Senior Ryan York who has the times and receipts to make this an interesting race from the start.

The entire boys race is guaranteed to be highly entertaining as semi-state marks the third straight Saturday of Region Runner epic showdowns within the top 10 runner field, all with strong possibilities to finish below 16:30. The battle of the juniors , Griffith's Joey LaPatra and Munster's Ralph Brown, proved to be edge of your seat entertainment for both the Highland Sectional finish and final mile of the Crown Point regional and this Saturday could be the ultimate test of who takes the top junior region runner spot before advancing to State. Stay tuned for the continued fight between Portage sophomore Shane Conroy and LaPorte senior Jay Pillai who have been neck and neck for the past two weeks at the New Prairie Sectional and Crown Point Regional. These hard fought, soul-giving battles will result in one of these runners cracking the top five, yet all will likely advance to State.

Jaiden Goins of Harrison (West Lafayette), Hayden Kemple of Clinton Prairie, Tristen Wuethrich of Rensselaer Central and Christopher Angeles of Frankfort have recorded stellar times and noteworthy performances in the postseason that proves likely to advance them to State as individuals on non-advancing teams. 

Boys Team Watch

Contending for the win- Valparaiso

Likely to advance- Chesterton, LaPorte, Lake Central

On the bubble- Warsaw, Portage, West Lafayette, Crown Point

Outside shot at advancement- Harrison, McCutcheon, 

The Valparaiso boys, ranked as a top ten team in the state, plan to make it a repeat as semi-state champions and grand slam champions (conference, sectionals, regionals and semi-state), but not if Chesterton or LaPorte have anything to do with it.  Although Valpo remains the strong favorite with the top two finish of Dillabaugh and Nobles, LaPorte will look to leverage their momentum and meet-to-meet improvement to peak at just the right time. Chesterton's top three runners will post a sub 17:00 time and need their final two scorers to put up their best times to make this competitive with Valpo down the final stretch.

After the top three teams, similar to the girls race, it is going to get very interesting!  Pay special attention to Lake Central, the young up and comers, fighting to advance to State with no seniors in their top five runners. With all of their top runners returning next season, they are definitely a team to watch.  The Warsaw boys look likely to advance with their top five runners sticking together from start to finish.  The hard fought rivalry between West Lafayette and Harrison will be on full display on this big stage fighting for the last few spots alongside region teams Crown Point and Portage.

Racing will get under way with the girls race at 10:30 CST, with the boys race to follow at 11:15 CST.

MileSplit Indiana is previewing all four Semi-States throughout the week. Check back to the website for all Semi-State previews before Saturday.