Schaumburg Girls Sectional : Wolfe back to win individual title; #6 Palatine packs it up for team win
Elk Grove Village, Ill — There was white line 100 meters into the course to signify where the race could be called back in case a runner was knocked down. It was the point of no return so to speak for the runners in this sectional. Get past the line and then you had 17+ minutes to navigate the three loops of the Busse Woods course.
The starter fired once to start the Girls Sectional race and then again as a runner from McHenry HS was knocked down. It was back to the line for the anxious runners. The gun fired again and this time the runners passed the line. It was the point of no return as the runners set out to navigate the course. But for Prospect’s Brooke Wolfe, it was the point of return a she captured the Schaumburg Sectional title with a furious kick in the last 400 meters to out distance Buffalo Grove freshman Kaitlyn Ko by 4 seconds.
It has been a season of struggle and revival for the Prospect senior. She missed a month of the season due to a leg injury. She tried to come back at the Mid Suburban League Meet and was unable to finish. Last week on the same course, Wolfe was able to finish 6th at the Hoffman Estates Regional.
She looked comfortable in this race as she bided her time and let Palatine’s Tess Wasowicz take the pace. The mile went by in 5:50. The 2 mile in 11:54 as Wolfe set behind the pack led by Wasowicz, Ko, Caroline Kurdej of Schaumburg and Lauren Conroy, the MSL champ, from Barrington.
With 800 meters to go, Kurdej started to push what was a pack now into a line of runners. Wolfe was right behind just waiting. Her confidence was showing as she shifted her gears to move away from the race.
“I just wanted to go out relaxed and not keep moving up during the race,” Wolfe said afterwards. “The last 400 felt really good and especially was happy how our team did.”
“I’ve been coaching a long time and I’ve had kids that have gotten injuries in the past. In our sport, when you train in a high level, you also have a chance to get injured,” said Prospect Girls Coach Dave Wurster. “We had to have an alternate plan and the kids have confidence with that. It is something that we, unfortunately, have had to get used to.” Wolfe did have that confidence and it showed in her race on Saturday.
The team race looked like it was #7 Barrington’s at the mile mark. But it was a three mile race. Palatine had the plan of having Tess Wasowicz and Jessica Lincoln up front early and let the pack move up during the race. It worked as Coach Joe Parks’ squad had 5 runners in the first 21 to defeat Barrington 70 to 103. #14 Prospect was third with 116 points.
“The last couple of weeks we have figured out a better plan for each of our packs. They are kind of feeding off each other,” Parks said. “The race lagged a little. We were out a little bit slow too. We did work the middle mile. I think we did a really good job of staying poised.”
“This was definitely not the best I have felt during a race this year but I battled it longer than I thought I would have,” added Tess Wasowicz. “I usually feel better when I am by myself. I knew that was going to be the case today and I just had to deal with it. I am very excited about next week. The plan was to prep us all for state. Obviously, if I do not have my best race next week but the team does great, then that is all that matters.”
Schaumburg was the fourth place team with 162 points. The surprise of the meet was the fifth place finish by unrated Warren who finished 6 points ahead of #20 Fremd. It is the first trip down to the state meet for this Gurnee school. It was not even a goal, not even a thought for Coach Brett Heimstead at the beginning of the year. It became more of a reality after their 2nd place finish at the North Suburban Conference Meet. When he found out that his team had made it, he was in total disbelief.
“This is unbelievable. Totally unbelievable,” an emotional Heimstead said. “There has been hard work all year from all of my girls. We came here and we thought we had an outside shot. We just ran our race. We were patient and it paid off today.
It was an emotionally different atmosphere from the Fremd camp and coach Mark Anderson. This was the last year of coaching cross country for Anderson. He still did have a runner qualifying individually in the ninth place finish of Kelly Breen.