Category Archives: Meet Recaps

Edwardsville’s 1:31.29 4×2 overshadows Brown’s 3 wins at Arkansas HS Invitational

The Edwardsville Track Club quartet of Bennett Gray, Brian Crowe, Isaiah Michel, and Craig James celebrate their victory at the Arkansas HS Invitational on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Edwardsville track.

The Edwardsville Track Club quartet of Bennett Gray, Brian Crowe, Isaiah Michel, and Craig James celebrate their victory in the 4 x 200 Meter Relay at the Arkansas HS Invitational on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Edwardsville track.

By Michael Newman

FULL RESULTS

Aailyah Brown (Lincoln-Way East, Frankfort IL) captured 3 wins Saturday evening at the Arkansas High School Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas. However, her exploits were overshadowed somewhat by an early season fast 4 x 2 by the quartet from Edwardsville.

Running as the E-ville Track Club but having all 4 runners students at Edwardsville HS, the Tigers ripped off an eye popping 1:31.29 to set a school indoor record and to win the Boys 4×2 relay. What is amazing is that Edwardsville ran 1:31.46 at the end of February at the Normal West Invitational last year. The E-ville relay team of Bennett Gray, Isiah Michal, Craig James, and Brian Crowe are ahead of last year’s team that had graduated all-state sprinter Cameron James as part of it. A time like this, especially in January,  will put the rest of Illinois on notice that they could go close to 1:30 by the time the indoor circuit ends.

Brown had another great night dominating the races that she was entered in. She romped in the 60 Meter dash winning by a sizeable fifteen hundredths of a second victory. Illinois Elite Club teammates Kayla Hylton (Lincoln-Way North HS, Frankfort IL) and Alexis Hyshaw (Lincoln-Way East HS, Frankfort IL) finished fifth and sixth. Brown’s time of 7.60 is her fastest of the young 2013 season.

The Lincoln-Way East senior came back later in the meet to win in a convincing 24.58, over a half second ahead of Brianna Swinton (Parkview Arts-Science HS, Little Rock AR). Hylton (25.95) and Alexis Pierre-Antoine(26.06)  finished sixth and seventh overall in this event.

The Illinois Elite Club 4×2 team of Aaliyah Brown, Asia Brown, Kayla Hylton and Imani Haynes started off the night with over a second win running 1:41.51 to dominate the race.

Cahokia made their presence known in this meet in the Triple Jump and in a big way. Cahokia Track Club athletes placed 2-3-4 in this event. The Comanches were led by Freshman Ja’Mari Ward who jumped a personal best of 46-9. Senior Chris Moore (45-1 ½) and Junior Jalon Monigan (44-11 ½) finished behind their teammate. Monigan came back later in the 800 to run 2:01.

Edwardsville senior Julian Harvey had a great night in the field events. He finished 3rd in the Long Jump jumping an indoor personal best of 22-5. Harvey also finished 2nd in the High Jump clearing 6-5.

Maya Neal (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville IL) usually will be in four events when it gets close to state meet time. On this night, the talented sophomore  concentrated on the 60 Meter High Hurdles. She finished second in the finals running 9.02.

Aaliya Harmon (Rich Central HS, Olympia Fields IL) finished second last week at Texas A&M with a 18-4 effort in the Long Jump. Saturday night she won the event jumping 18-7, a seasonal best for the senior.

In the evening’s final event, the 4 x 40 meter relay, Cahokia showed that they are already in mid-season stride. The foursome of Marlin Brady, Jalon Monigan, Michael Monigan, and Darren Payton ran 3:25.07 to place second. This is the same quartet that won this event at the Illinois state meet last May. To show the depth of 400 meter runners Cahokia has, their “B” team ran 3:32. If this is an indication of the strength of this team this spring, it will be tough to knock off the Comanches in this event in May.

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Brown repeats double win at Texas A&M High School Classic

Aailyah Brown on her way to the win in the 200 Meter Dash at the Texas A&M Classic on Saturday. Photo Credit: Dwayne Pierre-Antoine

Aailyah Brown on her way to the win in the 200 Meter Dash at the Texas A&M Classic on Saturday. Photo Credit: Dwayne Pierre-Antoine

FULL RESULTS

By Michael Newman

Aaliyah Brown (Lincoln-Way East HS, Frankfort IL) comfort level showed Saturday on the track that she will call home for the next 4 years. The Illinois senior defended her 60 Meter and 200 Meter Dash titles at the Texas A&M HS Classic held inside the Gilliam Indoor Track Season.

Aaliyah Brown after her win in the 200 Meter Dash at the Texas A&M Classic on Saturday. Photo Credit: Dwayne Pierre-Antoine

Aaliyah Brown after her win in the 200 Meter Dash at the Texas A&M Classic on Saturday. Photo Credit: Dwayne Pierre-Antoine

Brown, who in December had verbally committed to Texas A&M, started her afternoon by winning the 60 Meter Dash in 7.55 seconds. She was 7 hundreths of a second ahead of Rushell Harvey (Westside HS, Houston TX). Brown just missed the meet record that she set a year ago of 7.46. She came back in the 200 to win in 24.60. She ended her day by running on the Illinois Elite Club 4 x400 Meter Realy. Those efforts earned her the Girls Running co-athlete of the meet. She shared that honor with Sophomore Rebekah Topham (Griswold IA) who destroyed the fields in winning both the 1 mile and 2 mile runs in meet record times (5:04.10 / 11:09.10).

Shamier Little (Lindblom HS, Chicago IL) started off her 2013 as well at this meet. The future Aggie placed third in the 60 Meter High Hurdles (8.75) and then came back and finished third behind Brown in the 200 Meter Dash (25.04).

Two freshmen sprinters on the Illinois elite squad may their 2013 debuts and showed that they will make a difference in the Girls sprint fields in 2013. Kayla Hilton (Lincoln-Way North HS, Frankfort IL) ran a personal best of 7.80 to place sixth in the 60 Meter Dash. She came back in the 200 to finish seventh in the finals (25.22). Hylton finished just ahead of fellow Illinois Elite teammate and freshman Alexis Pierre-Antoine(Lincoln-Way East, Frankfort IL) in the 200 (25.73).

Aaliya Harmon (Rich Central HS, Olympia Fields IL) made her presence known in both the horizontal jumps. The second place finisher in the 3A state meet in 2012 looked like she has not lost her step in the Long Jump. Her leap of 18-4 ½ earned her a second place finish. She also competed in the Triple Jump where she finished seventh (36- ¼).

Watch Brown’s win in the 60 Meter Dash on Saturday

Reflections of High School Running in Illinois in 2012: Some of my top moments

By Michael Newman

One of the perks of covering a state meet is talking to each state champion. This time, it was state record holder Madeline Perez of Glenbard West. Thanks to Madeline for sending this picture in.

One of the perks of covering a state meet is talking to each state champion. This time, it was state record holder Madeline Perez of Glenbard West. Thanks to Madeline for sending this picture in.

We are getting near the end of 2012. What a year it has been in running in the state of Illinois. I have been fortunate to see many events in so many places throughout the state of Illinois. I never have done a year in review before. I thought it would be a unique thing to do to end the year for Illinois Prep Harrier.

I started the year covering Boys running throughout Illinois for Dyestat Illinois. I ended the year in a different place, a creation of mine, Illinois Prep Harrier. I was able to cover everything in Cross Country this fall both Boys and Girls. It stretched me a couple of times but it was worth it.

I tried to summarize my highlights month by month. I think if would have done it in that format, I would still be writing this in 2014. Instead, I want to take a look at some of the top moments of the year in both track and cross country.

I did not rank them. I am just doing this in random order.

1                     The rise of Madeline Perez and Girls Distance Running in Illinois

The junior from Glenbard West caught my eye in the first race of the season at the Hornet Red-Devil Invitational in Hinsdale. Madeline Perez was a runner that in the preseason I thought would be a runner that may challenge for the top 5 in November. When she ran 16:59 on the rolling course at Katherine Legge Memorial, I thought that she may be running much faster by the time of the state meet.

Perez did not have a perfect season by any means. Early in the year, she was defeated in consecutive weeks by Kaylee Flanagan of Lake Park. The second race at Detweiller Park, Perez finished second running 16:29. Flanagan broke the course record running 16:20.3. Fans started to talk of what Flanagan could run in November. No talk about Perez and what she could do. She came down with an upper repertory and sinus infection that slowed her down for the next month.

When she recovered, she had found the gear that she was missing earlier in the year. She just missed the course record that Flanagan had set earlier in the year at Lake Park by one second. The big thing was that she defeated Flanagan by over 40 seconds. Two weeks later at the state meet, I was on the lead truck watching Perez move away from the pack. When she passed by the 2 mile in 10:36, everyone at the park on that day knew something special was going to happen.  She shattered the course record by 18 seconds. She just missed breaking 16 minutes by two seconds, but considering that she is a junior, she will have a couple of chances to take the record down further in 2013.

The improvement in Girls Distance running had a staggering effect which I think will continue to grow during this track season. Four years ago, the winning time in the girl’s 3A race was 17:09. In 2012, that time would not have even placed in the top 25. Perez improved her state time in one year by over one minute. The same improvement could be said about runner up Emma Fisher of York where her time was a minute faster.

We could see some special times this spring. Could the 4 x 8 record be broken after it was only set a year ago by Wheaton-Warrenville South? Are we looking at low 4:40 times in the 1600? Last year, the 3200 was won in 10:28. I would not be surprised if it goes under 10:15 at the end of May at state.

2                     A grand way to send a track to retirement

The plans for O’Brien Stadium in Charleston were to put a new football surface in after the conclusion of the Boys state track meet. As always, the state meet brought many exciting finishes and outstanding performances.

The one race that will be etched in my mind forever was the last race on that blue oval: the Class 3A 4 x 400 Meter Relay. It wasn’t who won the race but how the race was run. If you were to ask me which school was crowned the champion in that race, I would have to go back and look at my notes. I did not remember that Belleville West held off Minooka and Bloom to win the race. I did remember the sacrifice that Derek Suss of Plainfield North made for his team. This is what I wrote in my recap of the meet starting with Suss in the third leg:

James Cole had the baton for Belleville West, Tevin Hopkins for Minooka, and Derrick Suss for Plainfield North. Coming around the first turn, Suss made a move to try to take the lead. All of a sudden he slowed down and popped into the air. In 2011, he was out all season with a hamstring injury. That injury hit him again. He crumpled to the ground in pain.

The announcer called for a trainer as the rest of the race moved by Suss. The young man got up and waved everyone away from him. This was the senior’s last race and he was going to finish it. “I was going to finish that race. In my mind, no one was going to stop me,” Suss said while he received medical attention.

The race was still going on, but it seemed that all the attention of the remaining crowd had their eyes on Suss. Bloom Townships Kaleb Williams made a move on the outside to get his team into contention. The final leg had Tevin Suggs of Belleville West holding off Chris Wilson of Minooka and Micah Frasier of Bloom Township for the win. It was the first win in this relay for Belleville West. It was also the first for Belleville West coach Patton Seagraves. When he ran at Harrisburg, he anchored their 4 x 4 relays all 4 years, but could never win the title. On this day, Suss delivered to give Seagraves that winning satisfaction.

Suss was still trying to make it around the track as the rest of the runners finished. And he was going to finish. He was moving slowly. But he was getting encouragement. Man he was getting encouragement. All the athletes on the infield waiting to get their medals from previous races were lining the infield cheering for their fellow athlete. The crowd was standing giving him encouragement to get that final exchange off. If he got the exchange off, his squad still would receive a medal and attain all-state recognition.

I do not think there was a dry eye in that stadium as Suss approached his teammate Evan Flagg with the baton. I think it was a requirement of those who were still in that stadium that there was not a dry eye. Who could not be moved by this?

Suss finally made the exchange to his teammate and fell to the track. His teammates and his coach Tony Holler rushed around him. His coach gave him a tearful embrace. Plainfield North finished the race with a time of 5:47.44, perhaps the slowest final time ever for the 4 x 400 Meter Relay. That time did not matter. It was a matter of perseverance and desire to do something for his teammates that kept Suss going.

“He has been accepted to the Air Force Academy. He has a 32 ACT. He pulled a hamstring last year and missed his entire junior year,” Holler said after the race was over. “He did not get to run at the state meet. He made it through his entire senior year because he worked so hard. It was really eerie when he went down and pulled that same hamstring. In our pre meeting of today, I told them a story. The most heart wrenching story that I have ever seen about Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics. He pulled a hamstring and his father came along side and helped him across the finish line. I told our men that was the type of team that we wanted to be. And it happened. I am so proud of that kid.”

The effort of Suss should serve as an example of what athletics should be. There is glory in doing your best and winning the competition, but there is more glory in persevering and completing the goal that you set out to achieve.

For those who left the Stadium of that day, I am sure that vision of Suss limping around the track to finish will stay in their minds hopefully forever. It was a forever moment for Suss. It was a forever moment for Holler and the Plainfield North track team. It was a forever moment for this blue oval and the legacy of great moments in Illinois high school track history.

3                     Multiple Distance Races in the heat

I wish I could comment on the great double that Jessica Ackerman of New Trier accomplished with two all state performances in the 3200 and then less than an hour later in the 800. I still regret not going down to the Girls State Meet last May. There were many performances that I would have loved to have seen and written about.

I can, however, tell you about the great distance doubles that I saw the following week at the Boys State Meet. The temperature at O’Brien Stadium on the day of the final was 96 degrees. The temperature on the track approached 115 degrees. It was hard to believe that anyone would be able to accomplish a distance double. Don’t tell that though to Steve Schroeder of Monticello and Michael Clevenger of Decatur MacArthur. Both seniors were state champions in cross country the previous fall. The hot conditions would only be a slight deterrent to their goals.

Schroeder’s task would be a little more difficult. With Monticello in the hunt for a team trophy in Class 1A, Schroeder announced after the prelims on Thursday that he would run on his team’s 4 x 800 Meter Relay team, then run the 3200 Meter Run and the 1600 Meter Run.

Clevenger would coast in his heat of the 1600 Meter Run on Friday. Meanwhile, Jamison Dale of Jones College Prep set a Class 2A record in his heat of 4:15. Clevenger’s task of doubling in the 3200 & 1600 would be tough with Dale and Will Brewster of Grayslake Central in both of the races.

Schroeder’s teammates would keep them close to race leader Elmwood as they handed the baton off to Schroeder. His 1:55.1 anchor would secure the win for Monticello and ten points. He went off the track immediately afterwards to find some shade. He would return less than a hour later to run the 3200. The hot temperatures took its effect on the field but it did not seem to faze Schroeder. He moved away in the last 800 for an easy win. “This race was more of an endurance test for me. The race was mostly tactical. I know the time wasn’t impressive, it was just getting the points for the team,” he said.  His luck ran out a couple of hours later as he ran against a fresh Grant Nykaza of Beecher in the 1600. Schroeder tried to stay with Nykaza and he did…for 1400 of the 1600 meters in the race. Nykaza made a race winning move in the last 200 that Schroeder had no energy to stay with him.

“I was telling myself over and over again I was ready for it and I just had to keep myself mentally upbeat that I could do this,” Schroeder said. “I just tried to stay with Nykaza. I waited to make my move and he made his even stronger.” Still, it was a great day for the mentally tough Monticello senior. Monticello scored 31 points, 28 of those were accounted by Schroeder. That was enough for Monticello to take home a third place trophy.

Just like Schroeder, Clevenger was not worried about time. All that mattered was that he cross the finish line on his last lap of both races in first place. The 4:48 mile that the pack went through in the mile was slow but that did not matter to Clevenger.

“The times were not great. The heat had something to do with that. What was I supposed to do? It was a matter at the end of who could run the fastest last 400,” he said. “When we went through the mile, it felt like tempo running and I was feeling really good. When I crossed the finish line, it was like phew, I got through that one.”

He ran his last mile in 4:30, the last half in 2:06, and the last 400 in 58.9…good enough for a state championship.

He doubled his pleasure in the 1600. The only way that he would complete the double that eluded him the year before was that both races became tactical in the extreme heat. He made his move with a 56.4 last 400 to secure his fifth state championship. “It’s unexplainable how I felt getting the 1600 for the first time. It felt like the first time all over again when I won my first state championship. It felt like it was the best conclusion to my high school career,” Clevenger said.

Two weeks later, his kick again proved deadly as he made a move with 250 meters to go to win the Midwest Distance Festival Mile in 4:09. It was the fastest time for that distance in the state in 2012.

4                     And they all cheered…

The last moment was not a state championship performance, but the roar of the crowd during the race made it seem like it.

The Proviso West Invitational at the end of February is just one of the first big indoor meets of the season. The meet does not determine a state qualifier or as a tune up for a big meet. It does give teams a chance to run on a fast 200 meter oval against some good competition.

The one mile run is contested towards the end of the meet. There were some fans that had left this meet by that point. Those who stayed saw a measure of will power achieved by Calvin King of Proviso West.

Now King does not have the typical distance runner’s body. He stands about 6’ 3”, weighs about 300 pounds. There he stood on line waiting for the gun to fire off in the first section of the race. People were asking what was this guy doing in the race. A fan at the race tweeted “From a true fan perspective, I’m all for kids accomplishing goals, but a 300 lb shot putter is a bit too much”

It did not matter what size of a body he had for me. His coach put him in the race…and he ran.

He was there to see if he could beat his seed time of 14:00.

He was lapped early in the race and often. The runners finished in the race and King still had 4 laps to run. Though he was the only runner still on the track, he was not alone. Fans in the stands were standing cheering the young man on. Athletes from all team lined the track to cheer him on. Each step seemed like it took forever, but he would not stop. The cheers got even louder as he closed to the finish line. His time was 11:11. He had run almost three minutes faster than his seed time.

It was not the prettiest mile that I would watch this year, but his desire to finish would stick with me. He did not win this race but that did not matter. He won in the hearts of everyone that was there.

–          –  –

This year was a memorable one for me. ESPN dropped Dyestat in June and it left me with many decisions. One of them was where I would cover Illinois Cross Country this fall. One of the things that swayed my decision was when my daughter was looking at the Dyestat Illinois website. When she asked me how come there are more articles about the boys, I had to think hard what I wanted to accomplish in the fall. I had been the boy’s editor for a long period of time and watched the girl’s races from a far. Not having the opportunity to write about the girls athletes in the past, I wanted that opportunity. The only way that I would be able to do that was if Illinois Prep Harrier was started.

It was a shame that Dyestat had to close down this fall. With Runner Space buying the assets for Dyestat, it will be fun to see what they will do.

One other thing that I noticed was the coverage in the main stream media for cross country decreased. For the first time that I can remember, there was not a reporter that I noticed from the Chicago Tribune at the state meet. There is a need for coverage on the internet and I am just happy that I was a small piece of that. There are more running websites in Illinois that will be starting up in January that will be covering the sport. I think that is a great thing. The more exposure for these young men and women is a plus for track & field.

I am excited for 2013. This will be my first time that I will be covering Girls Track along with Boys Track and I am looking forward to that. There will be many changes that will occur to Illinois Prep Harrier coming up sometime in January which I am very excited about.

I think once you see it, you will be too. At least I hope you will.

When I was running, my coaches would tell me that you were as only good as your next workout, your next race. That is the same philosophy I use when I write. I may think that a piece that I have written is good, but I know I will have to do better next time. It is the force that kept me improving when I ran. It is the same force when I look at this website.

Thank you for your support throughout the last year. I am fortunate that I am able to serve to you with this website.

Have a great holiday season and a blessed Christmas.

See you in 2013!

Illinois News and Notes: Cross Country Advisory Committee Meeting and Post Season Meets

Advisory Meeting: Regional meets reconfigured once again

It has been an ongoing complaint of the qualifying system for the IHSA state meet that the regional qualifying meet has become no more than a training run in some cases to some fans and coaches.  The IHSA Cross Country Advisory committee met on November 29 to discuss the possible reconfiguration of this meet.

There were a couple of options that were on the table. There was one proposal that in each sectional complex, the regional qualifying meets would be cut down to two with ten team qualifying out of each regional.

That proposal was dismissed.

The other proposal that made a little more sense was cutting the qualifying teams in the regional meet from seven teams to five.

The advisory committee recommended that in the 2A & 3A regional meets that the number of qualifying teams would decrease from seven to six with the individual qualifiers staying at five out of this meet.

The advisory committee also recommended that there should be no changes in Class 1A.

The vote for this was 4-3 with one member not attending.

See the IHSA Meeting notes HERE

From sources that wished to remain anonymous, this proposal has a Chicago area feel to it. Most of the problems that we have seen in the regional qualifying meet have come from those located in the Chicago area. More so, the problem has come from schools that are within the Chicago Public League.

There has not been the problem in Class 1A. Some of that has to with the fact that 40% of the cross country participating schools are there. In that, most of the schools that register for the state series actually participate.

That Is the problem with some of the Chicago area regional meets have teams that sign up for the state series that actually do not participate.

All the advisory committee has done is a put a band-aid on the problem and not fixed it. I am certain we will have the same problems again in 2013 with regional meet that will have less than 6 teams in 2A & 3A qualifying. It has also meant that some teams in Central and Southern Illinois will not get the chance to run in a sectional meet next year.

I do not know what the solution is to this. It could be that there needs to be more accountability within the Chicago Public League or maybe with the IHSA. I know there have been occasions that the state assignments have been delayed because the Chicago Public League has been late with their entries.

Maybe the regional /sectional assignments need to be reshuffled in both 2A & 3A so that there will be less of a problem. I have seen the IHSA Video on how sectional assignments are done. I think it could be possible. View the Video HERE.

I am sure I will be writing about this issue again next December.

NXN Nationals

Illinois runners navigated the mud and the water of the Portland Meadows course to some good finishes last weekend at the Nike National Meet.

York’s boys team capped off a great season by finishing 6th in the team competition.  Scott Milling led the York team finishing in 27th. Other York finishers included Kyle Mattes (42nd), Chris May (87th), Alex Bashqawi (101st), Jack Libert (117th), Alex Mimlitz (130th), and Matt Plowman (179th).

Illinois had three individual runners in the boys race. Quentin Shaffer (Prospect HS, Mt. Prospect IL) placed 12th and earned All-American honors. 3A state champ Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius HS, Chicago IL) finished just ahead of Milling in 26th. Alex Riba (O’Fallon HS, O’Fallon IL) completed a great XC season in finishing in 75th.

In the girls race, 2 Illinois teams ran some great races in horrible conditions. New Trier possibly ran bet race of the year finishing 11th. Courtney Ackerman ran an aggressive race where she finished 6th. Other New Trier runners included Mimi Smith (23rd), Jessica Ackerman (62nd), Kaitlin Frei (163rd), Kathleen Keene (163rd), Ooma Jung-Beeman (166th), and Kelli Schmidt (181st).

Naperville North concluded their championship season by finishing 15th. Elly DeTurris led her team by finishing 53rd. Other Naperville North runners included Maria McDaniel (101st), Kate Shannon (112th),  Jenny Smith (127th), Kimber Meyer (155th), Judy Pendergast (168th), and Grace Carballo (173rd).

3A state champ Madeline Perez (Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn IL) took the lead in the race jut after the mile mark. Individual race champ Sarah Baxter (Simi Valley CA) took command of the race and won in 19:17. Perez finished strong in 16th.

Congratulations to all runners who competed in Portland last weekend!

View the FULL MEET RESULTS

Coming up:

Foot Locker Nationals Recap

Illinois Prep Harrier Cross Country End of Season Awards

Mideast Cross Country Championhips: Erba tunes up for Foot Locker with easy win; Illinois Boys edged out of team title on tiebreaker

Last week at the Nike Midwest Regional, Ashley Erba (Warsaw IN) had some company in the lead. Saturday at the Mideast Cross Country Championships in Kettering, OH, Erba took command early in the race and cruised to an easy win.

This meet consists of senior class athletes from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Erba led an Indiana 1-2-3 finish to easily capture the team title between the four states. Her time of 17:21 was 34 second ahead of Bobbie Burgess (West Lafayette, IN) and another 13 seconds ahead of Bethany Neeley (Greentown, IN). Erba will be one of the favorite at this Saturday’s Foot Locker Midwest Regional at Kenosha.

Brooke Wolfe (Mt. Prospect, IL) ran 18:20 on the historic Indian Ripple Park Course. Her 5th place finish led Illinois to a third place finish. Other Illinois athletes included Tess Wasowicz (Palatine, 18th), Kelsey Hjorth (Oswego, 20th), Lauren Poplawski (Mt. Prospect, 19:00), Hanna Winter (Arlington Heights, 19:16), Maggie O’Loughlin (Chicago, 33rd), Casey Kramer (35th), Megan Lemersal (Park Ridge, 38th), Lindsay Rogers (Chatham, 39th), and Meg Tully (Gurnee, 40th).

Nick Raymond (Erie, MI) moved during the second half of the race to defeat a strong field in the Boys race. The Michigan D3 champ finished in 15:25, twelve seconds ahead of the Illinois duo of Riley McInerney (Charleston IL) and Quentin Shaffer (Mt. Prospect IL). Michigan D2 champ Connor Mora (Cedar Springs, MI) finished 4th 2 seconds behind Shaffer.

The two states battled for the team championship with both squads tied at 42 through 5 runners. Michigan was awarded the team title based on the 6th runner, Roger Phillips (Linden, MI), who finished 18th.

Other Illinois runners in the race included Jake Brown (Mt. Zion, 5th), Joey Santillo (Minooka, 10th), Marcelo Burbano (Chicago, 22nd), Ryan Burgoon (Barrington, 24th), Caleb Beck (Oswego, 29th), Alex Pierce (Minooka, 38th), Abel Hernandez (Palos Heights, 39th), and Cam Knudsen (Minooka, 40th).

Mid East Cross Country Championships
Indian Ripple Park
Novermber 17, 2012 RACE:
Place TmPl No.  Name               School                    State      Time Pace
===== ==== ==== ================== ========================= ========== ===== =====
1    1  513 Ashley Erba        Warsaw                    Indiana    17:21  5:36
2    2  514 Bobbie Burgess     West Lafayette            Indiana    17:55  5:47
3    3  515 Bethany Neeley     Greentown Eastern         Indiana    18:08  5:51
4    4  525 Janelle Noe        Sylvania Northview        Ohio       18:12  5:52
5    5  502 Brooke Wolfe       Prospect                  Illinois   18:20  5:55
6    6  527 Samantha Siler     Sycamore                  Ohio       18:22  5:56
7    7  526 Lauren Wood        Mason                     Ohio       18:28  5:57
8    8  537 Raquel Serna       St. Louis                 Michigan   18:31  5:58
9    9  530 Delainey Phelps    Toledo Christian          Ohio       18:34  5:59
10   10  516 Anna Aldrich       Fremont                   Indiana    18:37  6:00
11   11  529 Corrine Kule       Chardon                   Ohio       18:38  6:00
12   12  528 Sydney Leiher      Beavercreek               Ohio       18:38  6:01
13   13  517 Kendra Foley       Noblesville               Indiana    18:39  6:01
14   14  519 Rachael Sollman    Columbus North            Indiana    18:45  6:03
15   15  521 Ellen Schmitz      Carmel                    Indiana    18:45  6:03
16   16  541 Katie Weiler       Cedar Springs             Michigan   18:48  6:04
17       518 Amanda Farrough    South Bend Clay           Indiana    18:49  6:04
18   17  501 Tess Wasowicz      Palatine                  Illinois   18:52  6:05
19   18  504 Kelsey Hjorth      Oswego                    Illinois   18:58  6:07
20       523 Brittany Neeley    Greentown Eastern         Indiana    18:58  6:07
21   19  539 Gabrielle Thivierg Rochester Adams           Michigan   18:59  6:07
22   20  533 Jesse Proehl       Zane Trace                Ohio       19:01  6:08
23   21  503 Lauren Poplawski   Prospect                  Illinois   19:02  6:08
24       534 Marissa Rosetti    St. Vincent St. Mary      Ohio       19:05  6:09
25       522 Grace Lachmund     West Lafayette            Indiana    19:05  6:09
26       535 Mackenzie Butler   Licking Valley            Ohio       19:06  6:10
27   22  542 Erin Dunne         Northville                Michigan   19:07  6:10
28   23  543 Allison Lunau      Brighton                  Michigan   19:11  6:11
29   24  545 Rachel Durbin      Armada                    Michigan   19:14  6:12
30   25  540 Jessica Gaines     Stevenson                 Michigan   19:17  6:13
31   26  507 Hanna Winter       Saint Viator              Illinois   19:18  6:13
32       520 Taylor Austin      Griffith                  Indiana    19:20  6:14
33       547 Daya Wagh          Waterford Mott            Michigan   19:23  6:15
34   27  511 Maggie O’Loughlin  Marist                    Illinois   19:25  6:16
35       538 Megan Hubbard      Hanover-Horton            Michigan   19:28  6:17
36   28  506 Casey Kramer       Yorkville                 Illinois   19:29  6:17
37       536 Kelly Haubert      Liberty Center            Ohio       19:30  6:17
38       544 Jessica Delaney    Northwest                 Michigan   19:34  6:18
39       532 Robin Foster       Sylvania Northview        Ohio       19:37  6:20
40       531 Tori Martin        Mason                     Ohio       19:41  6:21
41       508 Megan Lemersal     Maine South               Illinois   19:44  6:22
42       510 Lindsay Rogers     Chatham-Glenwood          Illinois   19:45  6:22
43       548 Jemma Howlett      Cranbook Kingswood        Michigan   19:45  6:22
44       546 Christina Micale   Macomb Dakota             Michigan   19:45  6:22
45       524 Carolyn Talhelm    Franklin Central          Indiana    19:54  6:25
46       512 Meg Tully          Warren Township           Illinois   19:57  6:26
47       505 Kelly Breen        William Fremd             Illinois   20:28  6:36
48       509 Lauren Loomis      Shepard                   Illinois   20:45  6:41

 

Mid East Cross Country Championships
Indian Ripple Park
Novermber 17, 2012 RACE: BOYS
Place TmPl No.  Name               School                    State      Time  Pace
===== ==== ==== ================== ========================= ========== ===== =====
1    1  586 Nick Raymond       Erie Mason                Michigan   15:25  4:58
2    2  550 Riley McInerney    Charleston                Illinois   15:37  5:02
3    3  549 Quentin Shaffer    Prospect                  Illinois   15:38  5:03
4    4  585 Connor Mora        Cedar Springs             Michigan   15:40  5:03
5    5  552 Jake Brown         Mt. Zion                  Illinois   15:45  5:05
6    6  561 Connor Sorrells    Barr Reeve                Indiana    15:48  5:06
7    7  567 Jonathon Reynolds  North Harrison            Indiana    15:51  5:07
8    8  566 Alec Kostelnik     Morgan Township           Indiana    15:52  5:07
9    9  588 Jeff Bejema        Kenowa Hills              Michigan   15:54  5:08
10   10  553 Joey Santillo      Minooka                   Illinois   15:54  5:08
11   11  590 Alex Whitmer       Mason                     Michigan   15:55  5:08
12   12  573 Brian Brennan      Walsh Jesuit              Ohio       15:56  5:08
13   13  563 Jacob Poyner       Warsaw                    Indiana    15:56  5:08
14   14  569 Robert Murphy      Warsaw                    Indiana    15:57  5:09
15   15  575 Clayton Murphy     Tri Village               Ohio       15:57  5:09
16   16  570 Michael Passmore   Moorsville                Indiana    16:00  5:10
17   17  594 Zachary Nowicki    Calvin Christian          Michigan   16:02  5:10
18   18  593 Roger Phillips     Linden                    Michigan   16:02  5:10
19   19  589 Cody Snavely       Milford                   Michigan   16:04  5:11
20   20  568 Jonathon Harper    Fort Wayne Carroll        Indiana    16:04  5:11
21       572 Alexander Hess     Fort Wayne Carroll        Indiana    16:05  5:11
22   21  556 Marcelo Burbano    Lane Tech                 Illinois   16:06  5:11
23       587 Bryce Stroede      Hanover-Horton            Michigan   16:06  5:11
24   22  551 Ryan Burgoon       Barrington                Illinois   16:09  5:12
25       591 Nathan Burnand     Waterford Mott            Michigan   16:11  5:13
26   23  583 Jared Fleming      Van Wert                  Ohio       16:12  5:13
27   24  584 Jake Graham        Columbus Grove            Ohio       16:12  5:13
28   25  580 Vince Moeglin      Hudson                    Ohio       16:12  5:14
29   26  554 Caleb Beck         Oswego                    Illinois   16:13  5:14
30   27  579 Jack Miller        St. Ignatius              Ohio       16:15  5:14
31   28  581 Patrick Kunkel     McDonald                  Ohio       16:15  5:14
32       578 Jim Pappas         Olentangy Liberty         Ohio       16:15  5:14
33       577 Dan Zupan          Berea                     Ohio       16:16  5:15
34       592 Sean Kelly         Saugatuck                 Michigan   16:17  5:15
35       562 Kyle Eller         Lowell                    Indiana    16:17  5:15
36       576 Mick Iacofano      St. Vincent St. Mary      Ohio       16:19  5:16
37       574 Kyle Polman        Independence              Ohio       16:20  5:16
38       596 Jason Saliga       Romeo                     Michigan   16:21  5:16
39       595 Max Benoit         Royal Oak                 Michigan   16:24  5:17
40       571 Joel Hartman       Elkhart Christian         Indiana    16:28  5:19
41       555 Alex Pierce        Minooka Community         Illinois   16:28  5:19
42       582 Abel Flores        Defiance                  Ohio       16:36  5:21
43       564 Matt Dorsey        Lawrence Central          Indiana    16:39  5:22
44       558 Abel Hernandez     Shepard                   Illinois   16:40  5:22
45       565 Kyle Duvall        Westfield                 Indiana    16:40  5:23
46       560 Cameron Knudsen    Minooka                   Illinois   16:44  5:24
47       559 Zak Arcara         Yorkville                 Illinois   16:46  5:25
48       557 Brandon Bonifer    Glenbard West             Illinois   17:00  5:29

NXN Midwest Regional: York makes it 9 straight to Portland; Naperville North championship season continues with 2nd place finish

Riba’s individual win leads 3 Illinois runners to NXN Final; Perez’s conservative plan nets her 2nd behind Erba.

Illinois had a strong showing in both the Boys and Girl races on Sunday. Quentin Shafer, Alex Riba, and Jack Keelan will all be making the trip to Portland in December. Photo by Bryan Riba

By Michael Newman

Last year, York was a surprise team to qualify for the NXN Championhips in Portland especially after they finished in fourth in the state meet the week before. This year the #10 Dukes came in as the state champs but where rated lower than meet favorite #6 St. Xavier OH.

There is an aura around this program. They always seem to perform well at Detweiller Park for the state meet in Illinois. The same can be said about the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute where the NXN Midwest Regional is held.

Somehow, someway, the 7 that step to the line find a way to make it to Portland.

The only cross country program in the nation to make it to every NXN national championship made it 9 in a row as they captured the Midwest Regional Boys Championship Sunday afternoon. York had to rely on a 44 second split and their first four runners in the first 22 team places.

Scott Milling, Jack Keelan, Alex Riba, and Billy Bund are among the lead runners Sunday in Terre Haute. Photo By Jim Bertoli.

Scott Milling finished 9th overall to lead York again as the lead runner. Alex Mimlitz (26th), Kyle Mattes (32nd), Alex Bashqawi (42nd), and Jack Libert (78th) were the other scoring runners for York.

“I am just so happy we could keep the tradition going and making it nine for nine,” Milling said afterwards. “After winning state, it’s hard to get back to work and to get ready for a meet like this. I am so proud of my teammates in that we were able to come together again and qualify.”

The race itself seemed to fall right in the laps of York and the rest of the Illinois runners in the race. With winds gusting up to 40 mph, the race looked to be strategic as close to 35 runners were close to the lead as the pace seemed to crawl at a 9:57 at 2 miles.

The first runner that made the first major move was Sam Wharton (Tippecanoe HS, Tipp City OH) who took of just before that point with fellow Ohio runner Samuel Prakel (Versailles HS, Versailles OH) close behind. With about 800 meters to go, a pack led by Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius Prep, Chicago IL) started to try to make up the 20 meter lead that Wharton had built up.

With 400 meters to go, the pack had caught up to Wharton. This race was going to come down to who had the most leg speed at the end. Out of the pack burst Alex Riba (O’Fallon HS, O’Fallon IL) as he charged for the lead that he would not relinquish. Riba finished with a winning time of 15:30.1, almost two seconds ahead of Wharton. T.J Carey (Lake Orion MI) was one second back. Two more Illinois runners took the final qualifying spots with Quentin Shafer (Prospect HS, Mt. Prospect IL) finishing 4th and 3A champion Keelan 5th.

Illinois had the most runners in the top 21 with 8. Patrick Perrier (O’Fallon HS, O’Fallon IL) was 10th, Garrett Lee (North HS, Belvidere IL) was 11th, Zack Smith (North HS, Downers Grove IL) was 13th, and Billy Bund (Lake Forest HS, Lake Forest IL) was the last Illinois runner in the top 21 in 20th.

O’Fallon’s Alex Riba unleashed a furious kick in the last 500 meters to capture the Boys championship race at the NXN Midwest Regional. Photo by Tony Jones.

“For the whole race, my goal was just to stay in contention and keep contact with the top 5 guys. Top 5 was my goal going into it with no thoughts of winning it,” Riba said. “At that last set of hay bales, I was in 6th and I just thought all I needed was one more guy. But I felt really good so I decided to push it.  I started that kick with the mentality of not winning it, but creating a better cushion for a top 5 finish in case there were other guys with the finishing speed that could break into that top 5. But as I kept on going, I felt really good and I was gaining and passing. Even after I overtook the lead I still wasn’t thinking about winning until about maybe 100m out. It wasn’t until 200m out that I was confident I had one of those top 5 spots, even though I was winning. It wasn’t until that last 80-100m out that I finally realized I could win it.”

Alex will run with his teammate Patrick Perrier at the Footlocker Regional in Kenosha in less than two weeks.

#24 Carmel IN ruined the form charts so to speak. They were they fourth rated squad heading into this meet. They ran a great team race led by the 33rd place finish of Bobby Browning and a tight 20 second split. The Indiana state champs punched a ticket to Portland by finishing a distant 2nd to York with 162 points.

Pre meet favorite St. Xavier OH did not run their best race of the year and finished 3rd (211 points). Columbus North OH finished 4th (252 points). Both teams are eligible to be picked as at large squads for the national meet by a “panel of experts”.

Lyons Township IL ran a great race but finished 5th, 9 points out of 4th with 261 points. The Lions had a 26 second split led by the 48th place finish of Ryan Speir.

Other Illinois schools to place in the top 10 include Palatine (8th, 297 pts), O’Fallon (9th, 303pts), and 2A state champs Jones College Prep (10th, 333 pts). Neuqua Valley finished just outside of the top ten in 11th (376 pts).

Naperville North Girls team qualified for the NXN National meet with a 2nd place finish at Terre Haute. Photo by Phil McDaniel.

The Girls Championship Race would be a tell tale of how strong running has been in Illinois this past season. Out of the top 5 in the 3A race, only Emma Fisher (York HS, Elmhurst IL) chose not to run in Terre Haute looking towards the Foot Locker Regional in two weeks. Neither did the teams from Glenbard West and Lake Park run, but their top runners Madeline Perez (Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn IL) and Kaylee Flanagan (Lake Park HS, Roselle IL) were on the line.

US #12 Naperville North was ready to challenge a powerful US #4 Carmel IN team. Carmel destroyed their competition easily winning their state meet. The question would be whether or not North could pull off the upset. New Trier finished 4th in the 3A state meet, but with their strong front 3 could provide a challenge as well.

The first mile went out much slower than it did a week before at the IL state meet. One of the things had to do with the rolling terrain on the Gibson course. The other was the wind that forced the race to be more tactical. A pack led by MO Class 3 Champ Taylor Werner (Ste. Genevieve MO), Kaylee Flanagan, and Courtney Ackerman (New Trier HS, Winnetka IL) went by in 5:27.

In a pack 5 meters back was Madeline Perez and Ashley Erba (Warsaw IN). Both of the pre race favorites were willing to let the trio break the wind for them waiting for the right moment to make their move.

Ackerman was the first runner to make a move. Just before the 3k point, the New Trier senior tried to break away from the pack. Perez quickly responded as did Erba. They passed the 2 mile point in 11:12. All 3 runners looked comfortable.

Madeline Perez takes the lead over Courtney Ackerman and Ashley Erba half way through the race Sunday at Terre Haute. Photo by Doug Ackerman

Right after that check point, Perez made a strong move that quickly opened a 5 meter lead. Ackerman started to drop off, but Erba remained in contact. One minute later, Erba decided to go and made a decisive move to open up the race.  Perez could not respond to that as Erba opened up a 25 meter lead with 1000 meter to go.

The move was all that the defending 5k champion on the track needed. Perez looked like she was getting closer to Erba at the end, but it seemed like an illusion. She finished in 17:38. The time was great on this course on this day and nearly 8 seconds ahead of the Illinois 3A champ.

“I was running against state champ that I had not run against before so my plan was a little conservative,” Erba said after her run. “My coach told me that I did not have to break the wind for all of these runners. All I had to do was tuck in and mooch off of that in the first part of the race. Actually we talked about making the move later but I felt when I went it was the natural time to move out when I did.”

Erba will not run in the NXN National race. Instead, she will be focusing on the Foot Locker National Meet. Her first step for that will be the qualifying race at Kenosha in two weeks.

“My race strategy went out the door as soon as I got to Terre Haute and felt how strong the winds were. Before the race, I decided I would try to stay a few runners back through the first mile but I felt at that point it would be time to go,” Perez said. “Unfortunately, I quickly realized that I would have been better off staying where I was a bit longer as I began to break the wind for the others. I ran into a little fatigue in the middle of the race, but my leg began to feel stronger again in the final kilometer. I just wish I had a little more in the middle today.”

Behind Erba and Perez, in came two freshmen Taylor Werner and Ohio D2 Champ Mary Kate Vaughn (Oakwood OH). Then Ackerman came in fifth sealing the final qualifying spot. With Erba deciding not to run in Portland, she gave her spot up to fellow Indiana runner Bobbie Burgess (West Lafayette, IN).

Illinois showed their incredible strength by placing 11 runners in the first 21. Those runners included Mimi Smith (New Trier HS, Winnetka) in 8th, 2A champ Victoria Clinton (Kaneland HS, Maple Park) in 10th, Elly DeTurris (North HS, Naperville) in 12th, Katie Adams (Marengo IL) in 13th, Brooke Wolfe (Prospect HS, Mt. Prospect ) in 14th, Kaylee Flanagan in 16th, Tess Wasowicz (Palatine HS IL) in 17th, Skyler Bollinger (Yorkville HS IL) in 20th, and Jessica Ackerman (New Trier HS, Winnetka) finished in 21st.

Carmel IN did win the team title, but it was closer than some experts had expected. The Indiana state champs did run a 23 second split with three runners in the first 26 (Kelcy Welch 22nd, Gina Genco 23rd, and Haley Harris 26th) that was enough to capture the NXN Midwest Regional championship with 91 points.

Naperville North ran a great race to capture the second qualifying spot with 107 points. Elly DeTurris was ahead of the front pack of Carmel with Maria McDaniel just behind Carmel’s Harris in 27th. Their split on 5 was 45 seconds. Other scoring runners for Naperville North included Judy Pendergast (35th), Kate Shannon (48th), and Kimber Meyer (56th).

New Trier finished 3rd with 125 point powered by the top 21 finishers Courtney Ackerman, Mimi Smith, and Jessica Ackerman. Other scoring runners for them was Oona Jung-Beeman (81st) and Kathleen Keene (84th). Ohio D1 Mason finished 4th with 151 points, just one point ahead of West Lafayette IN. Only the 3rd and 4th place finishers can be chosen by the “panel of experts” as an at large qualifier for the NXN National meet.

It will be a waiting game for New Trier. Hopefully there are no real upsets in the yet to be run regional races. With their history especially finishing 4th in the national race a year ago, this is a team with the credentials that should get in.

Three other Illinois schools finished in the top 10 including Palatine in 6th, 2A state champion Yorkville in 8th, and Prospect in 9th.

York celebrates their ninth straight trip to Portland with their NXN Midwest Championship

2012 IHSA Boys 3A State Cross Country Meet: York, Keelan win at Detweiller

Jack Keelan wins one for the team; York wins 28th state championship

York celebrates its 28th state championship Saturday at Detweiller Park. Photo by Steven Koch

By Michael Newman

Peoria, Ill — It may be an understatement that Jack Keelan (St. Ignatius Prep, Chicago) was on a mission heading into the Boys 3A State Meet. It could be said he was on a mission even before what happened at the Niles West Sectional.

A year ago, he was one of the individual favorites heading into his sectional race. He failed to qualify to the state meet. He cleared that one hurdle when he won his sectional race last week. What was jubilation turned into the despair after his team finished 6th at the sectional when they were originally told they placed 5th.

The fire that burned inside of him was a little larger as he waited for each of the races to be run at Detweiller Park.  He was ready to unleash at great race not only for him but also for his teammates.

There was a list of individual that thought they had a chance. Quentin Shafer (Prospect HS, Mt. Prospect), Alex Riba & Patrick Perrier (O’Fallon HS, O’Fallon), Scott Milling (York HS, Elmhurst), and Caleb Beck (Oswego HS, Oswego) were ready for the challenge.

The York Boys Cross Country team was also on a mission. Last year they left Detweiller Park without a trophy and with the tuxedos that they traditionally wore after placing in the top 3 were left in storage.

The Dukes were the team to beat from the first day of the 2012 season.  The pressure built during the season as they continued to maintain that rating. “The pressure on these guys was unbelievable. Everyone at the park said that York was going to win. That makes it pretty scary. Now they just had to go to the line and do it,” said York Coach Joe Newton.

Not only was there pressure on the runners, there was pressure on the York Coach staff before the race as Newton and Assistant Jim Hedman could attest to.

You could not see the pressure on the York runners as they stepped to the line. There was a cool confidence in their eyes. Even though they were the team to beat, there would be other schools that would be going after them. O’Fallon, Neuqua Valley, Lyons Township, Palatine, and Lake Zurich were all teams that wanted a chance for the championship trophy.

The leaders just past the mile at the 3A Boys State Meet. Photo by Michael Newman

It took the first mile to shake out the field. Scott Milling had the slight lead heading up the incline jut after the half mile. There were runners trying to leave the pack to get into the lead.  First it was Alex Riba to get alongside Milling. Then, Alex Milner (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich) was towards the front. Then Keelan appeared towards the front. But still, no clear cut leader.

Riba started to move towards the mile wanting the pace to quicken. He was second a year ago. It looked like he wanted a gap and to break this open early.

Riba went through the mile in 4:40, the fastest first mile out of all the three boys’ races at this meet. Milling was close on his side. Keelan was just behind in a restful stride. His face showed that he was not exerting a lot of energy.

The St. Ignatius senior decided to make the first move and it continued as the race headed into the triangle. What was a tight pack was now strung out. The only runners that were able to sustain the pickup were Riba, Milling, Patrick Perrier, Quentin Shafer, and Billy Bund (Lake Forest HS, Lake Forest). There was a drop off after that.

At the half way point of the race, the pre race favorite Dukes had built up a big lead on O’Fallon and Lyons Township. They had 5 runners ahead of both O’Fallon’s and Lyons 3rd runners heading out of the triangle. The question would be if York could maintain that.

Jack Keelan and Alex Riba start to move away from the pack out of the triangle. Photo by Michael Newman

Right before the race entered back into the main portion of the course, Keelan made another surge. It dropped more of the six off the pace. The only runner that would not budge was Riba. It was all or nothing for the O’Fallon senior. There were mini battles going on behind the two front runners. Milling was just trying to hold on to the front pack. Shaffer and Bund were trying to keep with the pace. Perrier was just behind the two waiting for the right move. His stride looked so effortless.

This was still a fast pace. Keelan and Riba went by the two mile in 9:22 – 9:23. Shaffer, Perrier, Bund, and Milling were between 9:26 – 9:28.  This was a two man race. The crowd around the course could sense that as the noise continued to grow and grow as the runners passed by.

With 1200 Meters to go: Keelan & Riba

At the 2 ¼ mile mark, Riba made a dramatic surge as he made the turn down the back straight away. For about 25 meters, he opened up a slight lead on Keelan. It took a few seconds for him to realize the move that Riba made on him. All of a sudden, Keelan was right next to his competitor. Bund was in sight in third, but out of striking distance of the two. Perrier and Shafer were working together to get closer to Bund with Milling just sticking to the two.

As they made the gradual left turn across the park and to the 2 ½ mile point, Keelan took off. The surge that Riba had made had not affected Keelan. First the lead was 5 meters. Then around the three pole turn, the lead was 15 meters and growing.

Nightmares were being erased for Keelan as he headed towards the finish line. Dreams were about to be realized. He finished as champion. His 14:05 was nine seconds faster than Quentin Shaffer who made a strong move in the last 50 meters to catch Riba. Perrier caught his teammate and finished 3rd. Both O’Fallon runners finished in 14:15. Billy Bund was another two seconds back.

Overall, Keelan’s winning time was the 10th fastest ever run at Detweiller Park for the state meet. He is the 9th fastest runner ever in the state. He is St. Ignatius’ 2nd individual state champion. Mike Patton was the first in 1980. This individual championship was just not a personal journey for him but one for his teammates.

Jack Keelan on his way to the state championship. He is the 2nd St. Ignatius runner to win (Mike Patton, 1980). Photo by Steven Koch

With all the surges that were in the race, Keelan ran a fairly even pace. He ran 4:41 / 4:42 / 4:43 for the three mile race.

“You’ve got to expect a fast mile at the state meet. I just went along for the ride and tried to stay as relaxed as possible,” Keelan said afterwards. “I kind of put my own move in at the 2 mile. The goal was to try to go to thin out the pack as much as I could. Riba and those guys were hanging by and they did a great job. He (Riba) made a move with 1200 meters to go and had me worried there. It just has not hit me yet.”

“I decided to stay relaxed the first 800 meters and see how everything went. I felt good and I decided to push the pace after that,” Riba said. “In the last mile, it was one of those moments where I decided to push it. I could not hold it but it was worth the shot.”

York maintained its lead throughout the race but it looked kind of shaky the last mile. The early pace was starting to hurt many of the runners including the seven from York. Scott Milling hung on off his early lead and was able to finish 6th overall, third for the team score.  Kyle Mattes moved the last 600 meters to finish 23rd overall.

Probably the most inspirational point for the Dukes occurred in the last 800 meters. Alex Mimlitz was hurting looking for every ounce of energy he could find.  O’Fallon’s Dorrian Gordon was just about ready to pass him. “I saw him coming right up next to me.  So many thoughts came through my head. This is my last race. This is my last 400,” Mimlitz said. “This guy is from O’Fallon. We have to win. Then I thought, why am I thinking? Just run!  I just started sprinting. It was the hardest I have run for 400 meters.”

He was the third man and finished 24th.

Quentin Shafer had a great kick to finish 2nd. Photo by Steven Koch

Chris May had usually been with Mattes and Mimlitz during the season. The fast pace hit him in the last 400. He still had enough strength to finish 49th overall and was the fifth man. “I cannot explain the feeling of being a state champ because I will never get that feeling again. It was something that I will always treasure,” May said.

York was able to hold on to the lead that they gained early in the race to capture their 28th state championship. One of the big reasons was the finish of Junior Alex Bashqawi. Not even mentioned on any of the form charts at the beginning of the year, he came on mid season to give a boost to the Dukes. He passed 15 runners in the last 400 to finish 27th.

“I assumed the race was going to go out fast. I didn’t expect to be leading,” Scott Milling said. “I just had confidence in myself and my teammates. This feels awesome. It felt great my sophomore year but this feels so much better.”

Even though he has experienced the state championship feelings 28 times, it still never gets old for Joe Newton. 2012 was the fiftieth anniversary of Newton’s first state championship in 1962.

“We had a race plan where the big four were to stay together and the 5-6-7 was to stay together. We emphasized that they did not have to do anything special today. They had been running good all year. On this day, they just had to be ourselves. Most of our guys ran good today. People do not realize how hard it is to get all seven runners running good on one day. It was brilliant,” the legendary York coach said. “I was so nervous before the meet. From day one, we were ranked number one.  I think our guys performed to the max. This is one of the best group of young men that I have ever coached. Not just as the way they are as runners, but they way that they acted during the year outside of the course. Not too many people see that. I am proud of them.”

O’Fallon’s 2nd place was powered by the 3-4 finish of Patrick Perrier & Alex Riba. Photo by Steven Koch

O’Fallon captured their second straight trophy in a row with their second place finish behind the two all-state finishes by Patrick Perrier & Alex Riba. The Panthers were eight points ahead of York’s WSC Silver rival Lyons Township. The Lions were paced by the two all-state performances of Michael Matusiak (11th) and Ryan Speir (17th).

Don’t forget about the team performance of St. Ignatius. Even though they were not running as a team, state champ Jack Keelan had them in their heart.

Steven Koch took pictures for the Illinois Prep Harrier and I appreciate the work that he did this past fall. He took pictures at the state meet. If there are copies that you would like, please contact him at: S.Koch.Photo@gmail.com

2012 IHSA Girls 3A State Cross Country Meet: Perez runs race for the ages

Glenbard West junior shatters state record in winning 3A race; Naperville North captures 5th state championship.

Glenbard West’s Madeline Perez – 2012 3A Girls State Champ and State Meet Record Holder. Photo by Steven Koch

By Michael Newman

Peoria, Ill — The words of New Trier Girls Coach John Burnside were ringing in my mind as I was walking near the starting line before the start of the Girls 3A race at Detweiller Park.

He told me at an early season meet at Hinsdale of how this would be a special year in Girls 3A. He told me that there are so many great teams and individuals; it would be hard to comprehend.

Every time I saw a great girl’s race, I referenced that quote. When Kaylee Flanagan (Lake Park HS, Roselle) ran 16:20.3 at the Richard Spring Invitational and break the course record, I would refer back to Burnside’s words. When his runner Courtney Ackerman defeated a deep field at the Wheaton North Falcon Classic including Flanagan, those words would come back to me.

The dynamics of this race were fascinating. It pitted the front running pack of Naperville North, the #1 team in the state, going against teams like Lake Park, New Trier, and Glenbard West who had great front runners, but had a gap between their first two runners and the pack.

The individual race would be a great one as well. Madeline Perez (Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn) had run some great races the previous two weeks defeating some title contenders such as Ackerman, Flanagan, and Emma Fisher (York HS, Elmhurst). She would enter the meet as the favorite with those three runners chasing her. You also had to consider Carly Krull (Sandburg HS, Orland Park) who easily won the Marist Sectional by 18 seconds over Jill Hardies (Central HS, Hinsdale). Krull had beaten Fisher and was only eight seconds behind Ackerman.

The conditions were great setting the table for a great race. No wind. Upper 40’s. Overcast. Nearly perfect.

Perez had the momentum. She just missed Flanagan’s course record at Lake Park by one second. When Flanagan set that record, she came to Peoria a week later and ran the 16:20.3 at Detweiller. Perez was peaking for state. Could she break the record? If so, would she get close to 16:10?

Kaylee Flanagan of Lake Park leads the pack through the half mile of the Girls 3A race. Photo By Michael Newman

In the first half mile, it was evident that Kaylee Flanagan had ditched the plan that she had the week before to sit and wait during the first mile. Instead, she went back to the strategy that she was most comfortable with in pushing the pace and daring runners to go with her. She passed the half mile in a blazing 2:31. In a line behind her were Madeline Perez, Emma Fisher, and Courtney Ackerman. As the quartet charged up the front straightaway, it was clear that these four runners would be the challengers for the state championship.

The gap between the four and the rest of the race continued to grow as they approached the mile.  Flanagan passed the mile in 5:13. Perez had the same time but just a step behind. Fisher was one second back; Ackerman came by in 5:16. After that,  there was a six second gap with a pack led by Carly Krull, Laura Van Vlierbergen (Jacobs HS, Algonquin), and Brooke Wolfe (Prospect HS, Mt. Prospect).

Lake Park had charged out to the lead like they had done during the season. They had a tight 2-3-4 pack (Rachel Garippo, Brianne Murphy, and Samantha Montalbano) that had a slight advantage over race favorites Naperville North. The Huskies had Maria McDaniel, Judy Pendergast, and Elly DeTurris close together and were waiting to make their move. O’Fallon was running good early and was in third just ahead of Prospect. All eyes, however, were on the lead truck and the 4 runners that were following.

Perez made her first move. In the last two races, she would start her push at this point. After each of the last two races, she said she was feeling better and better after a sinus / upper respiratory infection hampered her training for four weeks in the middle of the season. There were no effects from this now as her stride continued to push out the pace.

Courtney Ackerman was staying close to Perez as were Fisher and Flanagan. But somehow, the Glenbard West junior was starting to extend her lead as the race headed back into the main part of the course.

I was distracted by the lead that Perez was opening up as we headed to the two mile point.  In my mind, I was wondering how fast she was going. Her foot hit the blue mat and my finger hit the split button on my watch.

Madeline Perez at the 2 1/4 at the 2012 State Meet. Photo by Michael Newman

10:36.3 !

Holy smokes! (Not the words I used but you get the idea).

Perez was on pace to break 16:00 on this course!  Courtney Ackerman was 10:43! Emma Fisher was 10:44! Kaylee Flanagan was at 10:45!

Naperville North had re taken the team lead with Lake Park, Glenbard West, and New Trier close behind.  Here again, the focus was on the front.

The stride on the diminutive Perez looked effortless but she was storming away from the competitors. Every spectator that she passed that had a stop watch going watched her pass then looked at their watch. An excitement was engulfing the entire park as Perez was no longer racing her competitors but racing the clock and history.

Two weeks earlier, Sarah Baxter (Simi Valley HS, Simi Valley CA) had run 16:00 at the Mt. SAC Invitational in California. After that race she said that she did not realize that she was going that fast and was afraid that someone was going to catch her.  She never looked back.

This was the same case here. Perez’s focus was ahead on the lead truck and not the action behind her.  The noise kept getting louder as she made the turn down the final straightaway. Behind her, Emma Fisher had a solid lead in second place about 10 seconds ahead of Ackerman. Flanagan was another 10 seconds behind.

History was about to be made on this course. Forty years ago at this meet, Craig Virgin made history in setting the boys course record of 13:50.6. There he stood right by the finish line waiting for Perez to cross the line and join this exclusive club.

Eyes were all on her as she entered the last 200 meters of the race. As she approached the line, all eyes turned and watched the clock tick towards 16:00.

16:01.2!

On the official results, it states 16:02. But on that clock it said 16:01.2.

She shattered the record by 20 seconds. The same record that Kayla Beattie set just two years ago and people said that it would be tough to break.

Emma Fisher also crossed the line ahead of the record running 16:15. She broke the record but she was “only” second.

Emma Fisher of York finished 2nd in 16:15 also breaking the course record. Photo By Steven Koch.

“Emma Fisher ran such an amazing race,” said Glenbard West Coach Paul Haas. “Believe me, we know what it is like to break a record and get second!” In last spring’s state track meet, Glenbard West set the state record in the 4×8 relay, but so did Wheaton-Warrenville South who went under 9:00 to win the race.

“I am really happy,” Fisher said about being in the race. “I am very happy with my time. It was kind of cool. Madeline Perez is in our conference. I stayed with Courtney Ackerman most of the way. It was a great feeling.”

“The mile was 5:12-5:13. It was definitely a fast one. I was hoping it was going to go out a little harder. It was a perfect start,” Perez said after her record run. “I knew that when I got into the triangle, I wanted to put a surge in to see what other girls would go with me. The last mile felt like the fastest mile of my life. You had the fans cheering behind you. Your adrenaline is flowing. My first thought when I went by was woo, new PR. The second was that I have one more mile to go.”

“We knew it would go out fast and how the triangle was where she would attempt to get separation. She is such a tuned-in runner that I was not surprised that she was going to run well at state (she was ready to run on Wednesday) but I don’t think even she could have predicted just how well,” said Haas. “In my mind I thought she had a shot at the record, but I did not mention it since the forecast was calling for rain and the course conditions would play a huge factor on the times. I am just so proud of what she did because I know how great the competition is in this state and how hard she works at developing her running talent, not to mention overcoming such a serious illness this season. Madeline just does everything right and it was terrific to see her take control of the race the way she did.”

Third place finisher Courtney Ackerman of New Trier. Photo by Steven Koch

Courtney Ackerman finished third in 16:27. Kaylee Flanagan finished 4th in 16:39. Olivia Ryan (Fenwick HS, Oak Park) made a late race charge to take 5th. Lisa Luczak (Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn) was hampered by a hamstring injury at the beginning of the week. She went out slower than expected (she was 30th at the mile). Still, she managed to place 6th in 16:45. All together, the top 6 finishers in this race were all from the Niles West Sectional.

In all the attention that the individual race received, Naperville North moved up beautifully in the last portion of the race to capture the 4th championship for Coach Dan Iverson. They had taken the lead from Lake Park half way through the race and were able to maintain that to the end for a 20 point margin. Glenbard West was only 5 behind Lake Park to take third. New Trier finished 9 points back with 147 and fourth place.

On this championship day, Naperville North had 3 all state runners. Sophomore Elly DeTurris finished 14th to lead the Huskies. Junior Maria McDaniel was next in 21st. Freshman Judy Pendergast was the third all state runner for North in 23rd. Their 5 runner split was only 39 seconds.

“We had to continue to run the way we have been running.  By nature, they are very competitive. I did not have to say much to them before we came over to the park,” Iverson said. “They ran smart the first mile and built from there. It is a very simple race plan. They are trained pretty efficiently to run that well. This year has been a process of breaking down barriers. First breaking 18 minutes was a big deal. Now it is 17 minutes. Our team fed off of that real well.”

2012 was a season that will not be forgotten by many girls’ runners in Illinois. It was a year where records were erased and competition was unbelievable.

Just think…Naperville North will return the majority of their team. Madeline Perez is only a junior. 2013 should be just as fun…maybe better.

The Naperville North Girls XC Team celebrates their state championship. It was the fifth for the Girls Program; the fourth under Coach Dan Iverson. Photo by Michael Newman

Steven Koch took some of the pictures for Illinois Prep Harrier. I appreciate the work that he did this past fall. He did take pictures at the state meet. If there are any pictures that he took that you would like copies of, please e-mail him at S.Koch.Photo@gmail.com

2012 IHSA Boys 2A State Cross Country Meet: Jones College Prep fulfills destiny in winning team title; Wold’s individual win not a big surprise.

Jones College Prep’s team championship in the Boys 2A meet was the first state championship for a Chicago Public League school since Lane Tech won in 1963.

By Michael Newman

Peoria, Ill — It was a date with destiny. Belvidere North was going for their fourth straight team championship. Coach Andrew Adelmann had been only at Jones College Prep for only four years building a program that he had hoped one day that would challenge for a state championship.

Now here he was at the starting line twenty minutes before the start of the Boys 2A race watching his runners warm up with his nervousness hidden by the sunglasses that he typically wore. The Jones College Prep Boys team had been rated #1 for most of the season after defeating Belvidere North in the early season Sycamore Invitational. The Eagles were also going after the first cross country team title for a school from the Chicago Public League since Lane Tech won in 1963.

Belvidere North was also on the line and they were kind of beat up. Coach Troy Yunk disclosed the day before the race that his son, usual #2 runner Tyler Yunk, had developed a hip flexor injury right before their conference meet. He was rested and not run at their regional. The only time that he had run was at the sectional meet where he paced his younger brother Eryk. It was basically training on an elliptical machine and pool running. “We are just hoping to place in the top 3 tomorrow,” Coach Yunk said.

The start of the 2A race just before the first turn at Detweiller Park. Photo by Michael Newman

York Coach Joe Newton has said on various occasions that he loves the atmosphere that the Detweiller course has on state meet has. But he just can’t stand that first turn. There are disasters that have happened to rip the dreams away from the individuals that who get trapped on the inside and end up hugging the ground hoping they will not get injured or slowed to walk on that ninety degree turn. In 1978, Newton had his team take a second delay at the starting line so that his team positioned on the inside could navigate its way around the turn.

The front runners of the pack made around the first turn led by Garrett Lee (North HS, Belvidere) and John Wold (Glenbard South HS, Glen Ellyn). The turn, however, claimed some casualties. The first was sophomore Chris Martin (Mascoutah HS, Mascoutah). Two seconds later, Tyler Yunk trying to avoid the pile up went down and aggravated his hip injury.

The pace and the leaders went through a conservative 2:17 for the first 880. By the mile, Lee and Wold had company up front with Marc Maton (Glenwood HS, Chatham), Jamison Dale & Luke O’Connor (Jones College Prep, Chicago), Brendan Hoskins (University HS, Normal), Riley McInerney (Charleston HS, Charleston), Alex Baker (Central HS, Crystal Lake), Joe Cowlin (Prairie Ridge HS, Crystal Lake), and Simon Thorpe (Dixon HS, Dixon). The 4:45 that they went by in did not seem to shake anyone off the pace as close to 30 runners were within 5 seconds.

Jones College Prep was a third of their way to the goal of a team state championship at this point.  Their 5 runners were within 4 seconds of each other and were leading by 80 points over Yorkville. Belvidere North, Normal University, and Springfield were close behind. The race was heading into the triangle. The action was about to begin.

Alex Baker of Crystal Lake Central leads the pack out of the triangle in the Boys 2A race last Saturday. Photo By Michael Newman

Garrett Lee was the first runner to make the expected move in the triangle. All it did was to stretch the pack out. Baker, Wold, Cowlin, Dale, and O’Connor stayed within a few steps of the Belvidere North runner. As the truck led the pack out onto the main course, Alex Baker made a decisive surge to try to break this race open. It did. Only Wold and Lee were able to keep up with him as they navigated the three corner turn and back down the main straight.

Wold, Baker, and Lee were together at 2 miles at 9:40. The surge that Baker made opened up a four second lead over Riley McInerney and the Jones pair of Dale and O’Connor.  There were still 8 runners that were within the lead threesome, but the leaders’ momentum was too tough for the chase pack to catch.

Jones was getting closer to their state goal. But so was Yorkville. They were only 50 points behind the Eagles and were beginning their last mile surge. Belvidere North and Crystal Lake Central were another 40 points behind battling for third. It looked at this point that there was going to be a new team state champion.

Each of the three leaders over the next 400 meters were making small surges testing each other’s fitness…both physical and mental.  They went behind the starting line and made their turn along Route 29. Baker made a surge and Wold followed close behind.  There was a grimace of pain on Lee’s face. This last surge hit the Belvidere North hard as Wold and Baker opened up a fast 5 meter lead and it continued to grow. The race was down to two.

Both runners had great finishing speed. Baker had run a 4:18 mile last spring in track. Wold had split 1:54 on his team’s 3200 relay at the state meet. It was anyone’s guess on who would blink first and let the other get away.

With 800 meters to go, the lead that these two runners had was up to 9 seconds.    Neither was willing to give up that lead.

Glenbard South’s John Wold ran his last mile in 4:36 to capture the 2A Boys title. Photo By Michael Newman

Wold’s stride looked smooth as they approached the final home straight. Baker was beginning to struggle a little as his form was starting to waver.  They made their turn to make their drive to the finish in front of close to 10,000 fans.  Wold did not look back and charged up the incline. His lead grew to 5 seconds on Baker as he crossed the finish line. It looked improbable after his first meet when he had to drop out of a meet because the pain in his foot was too painful to continue.  Now here he was as the second individual state champ in the school’s history. Micah Vandenend was the first 11 years ago.

His winning time was 14:16. He ran his last mile in 4:36. It was the fastest closing mile out of all the three boys races run at Detweiller Park at this meet.

There was a clue that Wold would be towards the front after he ran a swift 14:32 on a curvy Reed Keppler Park course in winning his sectional. The course is a little bit longer than three miles.

“That helped so much. I wanted to see if I could handle that first fast mile and maintain. I thought that was a really good practice for this week. I boosted my confidence that I could run with any of them this weekend,” Wold said afterwards.  “I knew I people would be looking out for me. I would be looking for them. It was not like I was under the radar. I wanted to sit, wait and see how the race worked out.  Everything felt so perfect.”

Even though he finished second, Alex Baker was pleased with his effort. “I thought I ran a pretty smart race and it’s always fun to compete against the other guys. I felt smooth through almost all of the race, except the last like 800 meters or so, where I just hit a wall,” Baker stated. “Wold just pulled away from me for the rest of the race. All in all, I was pretty happy with race. It was a great end to the season and it was nice to see all the hard work pay off. It made me thankful for a lot of things.”

Andrew Adelmann stood by the team’s starting box just waiting. He had three runners that had placed in the top 25 (Jamison Dale 6th, Luke O’Connor 7th, and Kirby Lawson 18th). He knew he was the first team to have five runners in, but there is always that uncertainty while the officials are reviewing the final results.

“We told our guys to give up all personal goals and run for the team,” Adelmann said. “They executed our plan beautifully today. We held back a little bit but made a charge at the end.” When he was asked about how it was to win the state championship, he shook his head.  “I am not going to comment on that until I see the official results.”

Ten minutes past and he was told that it was official.

“I do not know where to begin. We have talked about this for four years and from day one this was our goal,” Adelmann said in total disbelief. “There was a lot of sacrifices the whole time and I couldn’t ask for a special group of guys. They have made me such a better coach and a better person. To see them work hard for four years and to bring a state championship home to Chicago. I wish I had the words. I am so proud of them. I’m speechless.”

Troy Yunk knew that the Belvidere North reign of three state championships was over. He was proud of what they went through in this season. They made a great move in the last ½ mile to surpass Yorkville for second place by three points.  “Our guys were beat up today. I am very proud of them,” he said.

The charge to the finish showed that those 7 runners for Belvidere North had the heart of champions regardless of their place. That is something that cannot be taken away from them.

2012 IHSA Girls 2A State Cross Country Meet: Yorkville repeats team title; Clinton wins individual title with late race surge.

2012 2A Girls State Champions Yorkville. Photo by Doris Baker, Yorkville Running.

By Michael Newman

Peoria, Ill — 2008 was the first year that Yorkville Coach Chris Muth brought a team down to Detweiller Park to run in the state meet. In that first meet, the Foxes finished 12th in that meet. Krysten Sebby was the first all-state runner for Muth in that meet with a 20th place finish.

The next two years, Yorkville finished 2nd twice. Last year, the Yorkville girls cross country team climbed to the top of the mountain by winning their first state championship. Muth did not set any expectations on the 2012 team after losing 4 core members from that state championship team.

Enter the freshmen.

Muth had an idea what kind of talent he had after the Detweiller at Dark race at the end of July. In that race, Skyler Bollinger led the Yorkville team by running 17:31. Heading to the line on Saturday morning he would have four freshmen that would toe the line. During the season in regular cross country meets, Yorkville went undefeated. The closest battle they would have was early in the year at the First to the Finish Invitational when they only defeated Normal University by 6 points. Both teams had improved so it looked like a close team battle.

The lead pack in the Girls 2A State Meet Race just past the mile. Photo by Doris Baker, Yorkville running.

During the first mile of the race, it looked like the individual race would be very close as well. There was no division of the pack like there was in the 1A races. 12 runners were in a tightly constructed pack with the leaders going by the half in 2:36.

Bollinger led the pack through the mile in 5:33 with fellow freshmen Maryjeanne Gilbert (Notre Dame HS, Peoria) & Diane Lipa (Glenbard South HS, Glen Ellyn) ,and  Emily Brelsfoard (West Community HS, Normal) leading the front line. Right behind them was Victoria Clinton (Kaneland HS, Maple Park), defending champ Sami Staples (Central HS, Crystal Lake), Stephanie Saey (Galesburg HS, Galesburg), Katie Adams (Marengo HS, Marengo), Sydney Billingsley (University HS, Normal), Hanna Winter (St. Viator HS, Arlington Heights), and Summer Peirson (Yorkville HS, Yorkville). This race was wide open. Any runner was capable of winning at this point.

Yorkville’s freshmen were not running like freshmen so to speak.  The Foxes had a slight lead over Marengo at that mile in the team race with Normal University closing in at third place.

The triangle is the portion of the course where runners are away from the majority of the fans on the course. It is also the time when the race is defined by the moves that the runners make.  Gilbert and Brelsfoard made some slight surges on the three sharp turns in the triangle with only Bollinger, Clinton, Staples, and Saey able to stay in contact. The third move that Gilbert made around the half way point dropped pre-race favorite Katie Adams off the pace by about 10 meters.

All six runners came up the incline side by side as they approached the two mile point. It was an amazing sight to see. All the runners came across at 11:21 (the officials had Gilbert at 11:22). The team race was not as close. Yorkville at that point had 5 runners in the first 23 team places to have a stranglehold on the lead with U-High, Marengo, Montini, and Kaneland in a close battle for the final 2 trophies.

The first real move of the race came just before the finish line. Victoria Clinton made a surge heading past LaCroix rock that only Sami Staples could stay with. The two had race against each other the last two weeks in state series action so no move would surprise either runner. It was just a battle of wills at this point in who would drop from the pace. Stephanie Saey was efforting to stay with the two but heading down the incline along Route 29 it was going to be either Staples or Clinton winning this race.

Staples made another move with 800 meters to go. It was the exact same spot that she surged at in 2011 when she broke away from Kelsey Schrader (DeKalb HS, DeKalb) to win that race. As soon as Staples made that move, Victoria Clinton replied with a move of her own as they headed towards the three pole turn. Quickly she opened up a 10 meter lead on Staples and that lead continued to grow.

Kaneland’s Victoria Clinton heads to the finish line as the 2A state Champ on Saturday in Detweiller Park.

Clinton powered up the incline continuing to lengthen her lead. The moves that Sami Staples made hit her half way up that incline. First Stephanie Saey caught her. Then Maryjeanne Gilbert passed Staples. This race belonged to the Kaneland sophomore. Her 16:55 was twelve seconds faster than Saey.

“I was trying to stay positive all the time knowing God was giving me strength. I just relied on Him to stay positive,” Clinton said back in her team area. “I just wanted to feel everyone else out in the first mile. In the second mile, I just wanted to keep a good pace. With a half mile to go, I just gave it everything I had.”

Yorkville’s freshmen did not run like freshmen in this state meet. A year of experience erased that freshman label from the four “novices” that ran in that race. Three of the first four runners in the Yorkville top 5 were freshmen led by Skyler Bollinger’s 5th place finish. Summer Peirson (FR- 8th), Casey Kramer (SR – 11th), Erin Reynolds (FR – 24th), and Kelsey Leedy (JR – 28th) were the other 4 runners that in the top 5 of the Yorkville team that captured their 2nd state championship in a row.

“We made it a point to do their race. It is a big race. State meet is the biggest race of the year and a lot of kids get very excited before it,” Yorkville Coach Chris Muth said. “We did not want to change anything. It worked out. Our #5 runner Kelsey Leedy ran a great race. She came out of nowhere to almost make all-state. There were some individual performances that really stood out. It was a great team win.”

Yorkville’s team time (88:13) was the fastest time ever for a 2A team. It was the 6th fastest team time for all girls’ teams at this state meet and 13th fastest all time.

“I’m relieved that the race is over,” Muth continued with a smile on his face. “I am so happy for them. The state championship is great but their best race was the most important to me and important to them.  At the beginning of the year, I was afraid of that freshman anxiety of that this is too big for me. They proved me wrong in every single big race.”

Normal University finished 2nd behind three all state performances (Sydney Billingsley 6th, Shannan Supan 14th, and Alexandra Walch 21st). The next four places were separated by only eight points. Lombard Montini and Glenbard South both scored 172 points.  With the IHSA new tiebreaker rules for the state meet, Montini was awarded 3rd place based on a faster sixth runner than Glenbard South. Marengo placed 5th only two points behind. Kaneland scored 180 points to place 6th.