After York's Emma Fisher crossed the finish line in 17 minutes, 9 seconds to win the girls varsity race Saturday at the Jeff Leavey Invitational at LeRoy Oaks in St. Charles, 11 more runners came in before the first St. Charles North runner finished.
But cross country, of course, is nothing else if not a team sport. And the depth of the North Stars' lineup was enough to make up that 12-gap difference against the Dukes and the rest of the 13-team field.
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St. Charles North scored 99 points to edge York's 101 and win the Leavey invite. The title capped a strong first week of the season that also saw the North Stars win the Elgin City Classic on Tuesday.
Freshman Nina Olshever led the North Stars Saturday in 13th place with a time of 17:59. Juniors Ashley England and Kaylee Wessel came in neck-and-neck with identical 18:05 times to take 16th and 17th.
Senior Elle Murata and freshman Shelby Artman rounded out the top five in 26th and 27th. Finishing right behind the two was York's fifth runner Kristen O'Malley; if O'Malley had beat the two North Stars into the chute the Dukes would have won the invite instead of St. Charles North.
Team sport, no doubt.
"We had a nice pack today that helped us win the meet," North Stars coach Shari Hayes said. "I am really proud of my team. It is a great start to the season."
Wessel, Murata and Nicole Lopez -- the North Stars' sixth runner -- all set PRs.
Geneva coach Bob Thomson also saw several of his runners post PRs. Sophomore Brooke Nusser just missed the top 10 taking 11th in 17:58.
"I think five of the seven ran PRs, so that's great," Thomson said. "Times were extremely fast here today. Sometimes people are in early season shape from the summer, first-race excitement, those type of things."
Freshman Dakota Roman made quite the debut for Batavia taking sixth overall in 17:46. Four of the five runners in front of her were seniors.
Sophomore Lexi Slome wasn't too far behind in 12th (17:59). Batavia finished sixth in the team standings one spot ahead of Geneva.
St. Charles East coach Denise Hefferin watched her Saints get off to a slow start and finish fifth as a team.
"Early season races are just training," Hefferin said. "It was a good workout. We definitely learned some good lessons about getting good position early in the race, getting out strong and being aggressive. Those will be some good things we can take into next week down in Peoria. We know we have two more races here."
Torree Scull was running even with the leaders about halfway through the race before finishing ninth. The rest of their top five came in between 20th and 44th led by senior Sarah Hill.
"It was a very very fast start for the whole race so we weren't quite as aggressive at the beginning," Hefferin said. "That's partly my fault, that's our typical race strategy and we might have to make some adjustment given how narrow the course is."
Jacob's Kevin Christian might have been as happy as any coach after his girls finished third. Sophomore Lauren Van Vlierbergen, 12th at this race as a freshman, came in second just 1.4 seconds off the winning time.
"Lauren, she's new to competitive running last year but she had a great race," Christian said. "She's learned so much this year. She has such a high ceiling. She's improving so dramatically and has no idea how good she can be. She's not one of these kids who has been running a ton of miles when she got into high school."
Second and third runners Alex Lorenz (eighth) and Sam Baran (14th) also finished high as Jacobs just looks to close the gap with its fourth and fifth runners who came in 45th and 59th.
"Our second and third runners ran unbelievably and if our fourth and fifth can move up we'll have a very good chance of running at the state meet," Christian said.
Seniors Audrey Blazek and Ashley Bruner led Benet and Waubonsie Valley in fifth and seventh, respectively.