Joseph LaPatra’s Road to State


Kayla Doctor, Reporter

After all of the workouts, all of the long runs, and three long seasons of running, Joseph LaPatra qualified as an individual for the ISHAA State Cross Country Meet. Throughout the regular season LaPatra was one of the most consistent runners in the area. His personal record for the 5k is 16:03, which he ran very close to this time in multiple other races. His post season began with the GSSC Conference meet on October 1st at Wheeler High School. The two favorites for this race were LaPatra and Ryan York, from Hanover Central. During the race LaPatra followed closely behind York and with about 300 meters left, LaPatra closed the race with the winning time of 16:03, his personal best time.  

The next week was the first week of the IHSAA Cross Country postseason, with Griffith competing at the Highland Sectional. The three favorites for this race were LaPatra, Munster’s Ralph Brown, and Highland’s Jalen Strietelmeier. The three stayed connected up until the 4K mark when Brown and LaPatra separated. LaPatra led going into the final 350 meters but Brown finished 1st with a time of 16:17. LaPatra followed in 2nd with a time of 16:18. 

The following week was Regionals held at Lemon Lake in Crown Point. Athletes made up this race from the Hebron and Highland Sectionals. Again, Lapatra raced closely against York and Brown alike to previous races. The race concluded with York coming in 1st, LaPatra coming in 2nd, and Brown coming in 3rd. LaPatra’s time for this race was 16:24, which advanced him to the New Prairie Semi State. 

The New Prairie Semi State was devised of the Crown Point, Culver Academics, Harrison, and Chesterton Regionals. LaPatra previously ran this same course in the regular season where he won the class 2A meet with a time of 16:14. Knowing if LaPatra ran similar to this performance he would qualify to the state meet, he was confident going into the meet. Again at this race, LaPatra ran closely with York. York finished in 3rd, while LaPatra finished 4th with a time of 16:19, advancing him to State.  

The Friday before the State meet, LaPatra walked the halls of the school as his fellow students cheered to send him off to the meet. After this, him and his coach received a police escort out of town. The race occurred the following day at Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute. Lapatra finished the race in 31st, with a time of 16:06.  LaPatra said, “State was the most fun I have ever had while racing. At some points I couldn’t help but smile. I planned to try to maintain contact with the top guys, but I was trying to make up for losing contact with that group for most of the race. Overall I’m happy with my performance and hope to be back next year for a medal.”