Saturday’s state cross country championship by the West Lafayette boys (and furthermore, a third-place for the girls) was quite impressive.
The Red Devils brought Tippecanoe County its 44th team state championship and just its 18th in a single-class system.
Saturday’s title might be the most impressive given the factors. It was not quite the Milan Miracle (as portrayed in the movie “Hoosiers”), but it was at least somewhat comparable.
The Red Devils managed just strong enough of a performance to beat Carmel. Let me rephrase that. A school with an enrollment of 695 (according to the IHSAA directory) put together a seven-runner roster better than that of everyone, including two-time defending state champion Carmel, with an enrollment of 4,851, most in the state.
The Greyhounds missed out on a 14th state title in boys cross country just moments after their girls program won the school’s 120th team state title, according to the IHSAA website.
Carmel has long been the gold standard for athletics in Indiana — partly due to its much larger enrollment than any other school. Carmel has won at least one state championship in every accredited IHSAA sport but baseball, wrestling, gymnastics and volleyball. The Greyhound volleyball team can change that on Saturday as they play in their third-straight state championship.
The fact of the matter is, small schools don’t win cross country titles (not since the mid 1960s when … West Lafayette did so). Doing so relies on depth that favors schools with a large student population. In past year, as coach Steve Lewark built a state power, the Red Devils always faced the reality that perhaps seconds place (the girls two years ago) was as good as it got.
Here’s a breakdown of all the state championships won by Tippeanoe County high schools:
CENTRAL CATHOLIC (18)
Baseball: 2004 (A), 2007 (A), 2009 (A), 2010 (A), 2011 (A), 2012 (A), 2013 (A)
Boys basketball: 1998 (A), 2000 (A), 2003 (A)
Football: 1976 (A), 1999 (A), 2009 (A), 2010 (A), 2011 (A), 2012 (A)
Girls basketball: 2006 (A)
Volleyball: 2010 (A)
Football: 1992 (4A)
Girls track: 1974
Boys basketball: 1916
LAFAYETTE JEFF (13)
Baseball: 1969, 1973
Boys basketball: 1948, 1964
Boys golf: 1932, 1977, 1978, 1987
Boys tennis: 1975
Girls golf: 1979, 1983, 1984
Girls swimming: 1975
Baseball: 1999 (4A), 2003 (4A)
Softball: 2008 (4A)
WEST LAFAYETTE (6)
Boys cross country: 1964, 2014
Football: 1993 (2A), 2009 (3A)
Girls basketball: 1998 (3A)
Girls soccer: 2013 (A)