FORT WAYNE – Zach Panning and Marina Konow share some similarities. They are both junior cross country runners at Concordia, have the same birthday (March 29) and their parents are friends. The pair now have another – a sectional title.
Konow won the girls race at Northrop Sectional in 18:52, and Panning made it a Cadets’ sweep by taking the boys race in 15:40.
It is pretty cool, Panning said. We have gone to school with each other since kindergarten. We often say we are brother and sister.
Panning easily won over Alex Hess of Carroll (16:08.00), while Konow edged Columbia City’s Samantha Roush (18:55.0) by three seconds.
It feels really good, Konow said of winning the race. It tells me that I can do it. When mentally you just want to give up, and this helps me to realize that I can do this, and I can run up there. It is good motivation to keep going and not give up.
In the team competition, the No. 3 Carroll girls team won its 13th straight sectional title with 30 points, while the No. 2 Carroll boys team took first with 33 points.
The Carroll girls won the title despite its top runner, Olivia Hippensteel, being held out. The top three Chargers boys sat back at the start of the race in an attempt to form a pack with the younger runners.
The best teams do it, and you want to emulate what the good teams do, Carroll coach Zach Raber said of the sectional strategies. It is hard to put it all on the line a couple times a month, let alone a couple of times in a week. That’s a huge benefit for us, and we understand a lot of the smaller schools can’t do that. It is a real luxury for us, and it works well for us.
Hess said the strategy will benefit the team for Saturday’s West Noble Regional.
It brings us closer together as a team, he said. (Raber) wanted us to pace our younger guys and let them key off what we do. That was our goal coming in, to win as a team and do the minimum that we can. It gives us more firepower up front to not race all out. We didn’t tax our bodies today. It was nice to sit back and let the race unfold.
Concordia finished second in the girls race with 74 points, while Homestead (102) was third, Columbia City (125) fourth and Snider (130) fifth. For the boys, Homestead was second with 62 points, Concordia third with 88, Bishop Dwenger fourth with 91 and Snider fifth with 121.