MECCA - The sixth runner.
Boys and girls cross country teams normally field seven runners for each meet. The top five count toward the team scores, leaving runners six and seven as the odd people left out, per se.
Tuesday, Badger girls needed runner No. 6, Kelsey Mislai, who finished 15th in a time of 23:56.1.
The top five places for Maplewood and Badger added up to 36, leaving both of the teams to go to the sixth runner to break the tie.
Mislai's 15th-place finish was ahead of Maplewood's fifth-place runner - giving the Braves their first-ever Northeastern Athletic Conference title - breaking the stranglehold Maplewood held on the NAC title. Maplewood won every NAC title since 2002 and captured every conference title since 1998.
This is Badger's first conference title since 2002 when the Braves won the Trumbull Athletic Conference-8 title. Badger joined the NAC in the spring of 2003.
"They were ecstatic," Badger girls coach Carrie Albert said. "They were thirlled. We went in thinking we had a chance. We talked about that, that we had a chance to win. We knew it was going to be close.
"Maplewood is a solid team and it was a small meet. I told the girls this is a meet that could come down to a couple of points. It could very easily come down to one or two points. Sure enough, that's what happened."
Badger was led by Jennilyn Krumpe, who won the Division III 400-meter title in June. It's pretty rare to see a half-miler transfer that prowess to the cross country course.
"She's an all-around athlete," Albert said.
Grand Valley's Jessica Finley beat out Maplewood's Alanna Shamrock for the individual title, 20:16.3 to 21:02.1. Maplewood's Erin Pavick (21:02.2), Krumpe (21:18.6) and Bristols Becca Merlino (21:56.5) round out the top five.
MAPLEWOOD BOYS DOMINATE: Maplewood boys took the top five places to win the NAC title handily with 15 points.
Maplewood's Wyatt Hartman was first (17:25.5), while teammates Mike Dahmen (17:29.5), Derek Morrison (17:29.8), Solomon Yoder (17:30.1) and Tristan Dahmen (17:30.3).
Pymatuning Valley took second with 62 points.