About the only thing that fell as much as the temperatures from the 2011 Jeff Leavey Invitational to the 2012 version? That would be the times the 15-team field turned in Saturday morning at LeRoy Oaks.
"Everyone was flying, it was great to see," St. Charles North coach Kevin Harrington said. "Tons of PRs, every team. Everyone is smiling today which is a good thing."
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That's quite a contrast to a year ago when the heat got so bad the varsity boys race had to be canceled.
Race organizers changed the order Saturday, moving the varsity boys up to 9 a.m. and the varsity girls at 9:30.
Glenbard South junior Joe Singleton was one of those runners who didn't get a chance on the course last year. He turned in perhaps the biggest improvement, going from 25th when he last ran on this course in the JV race as a freshman all the way up to second overall in the varsity. His 14:41 time trailed only Oswego's Caleb Beck's 14:36 as four runners broke 15 minutes.
"I was extremely happy because we went 4:50 in the first mile and I felt great," said Singleton who was just as happy to see his friend and teammate Mark Cizek break 16 minutes for the first time in taking 38th. "But I think that kind of misled me because I tried to put in a real hard second mile and two guys wound up getting me. I was able to run away from one of them but the other guy from Oswego put a hard charge on the hill and I couldn't get back in front of him."
Singleton said there's a lot of lessons his team can take from Saturday as they begin their quest to win the Class 2A state title.
"It is a really good meet and such a beautiful course and such a good start to the season because you get to learn a lot of things because we haven't raced forever so we learn a lot of tactical things that we have to do," Singleton said. "It's really fun to start off the year this way."
Wheaton North won the team title with 88 points, 29 better than runner-up Jacobs. Paul Steeno took fourth, Wyatt Didier eighth, Joseph Emmanel 16th, Alex Ryan 25th and Zach Ewoldt 35th.
"We just came in today just seeing what we can do," Ryan said. "We didn't know what to expect. We just ran really well. We said 'Let's just go out there and run.' We ran really well and this is our first steppingstone of the year and we'll keep it as a highlight."
Ryan credited his team's training for their low times.
"It was hot all week and we've been training in it," Ryan said. "This is a tough course. I think the coach has trained us really well. We had a great summer. We all worked together and it's helped us a ton."
Jacobs finished four points ahead of St. Charles North to take second. Coach Kevin Christian was excited not only by the times his runners turned in but also the way they ran together.
"I was hoping the top group would run in the 15:40-15:50 range and all of them exceeded their expectations by 10 to 20 seconds," Christian said. "They are flying. For our seventh guy to be around 16:05 was just great."
The Jacobs one-through-seven lineup, which came in 12th, 18th, 20th, 24th, 43rd, 45th and 49th, were: Tyler Estell, Ryan Ross, Pat Nerja, Matt Johnson, Jon Godinez, Josh Yelton and Matt Goldby, respectively. Yelton and Goldby defeated the sixth and seventh runners on every other team.
"It's a great pack mentality," Christian said. "There's no true No. 1. It's a true pack team and they just want to run for each other and it's so much fun right now. To finish second out here, we've never done that. To finish second with all this type of quality is just unbelievable."
Harrington also was proud of his team which was led by Spencer Gray in sixth.
"We learned a lot about who we were," Harrington said. "Looks like Spencer Gray is going to be a front-runner."
Nicholas Borger, Nathan Klair and Ryan Joyce ran together for part of the race before finishing 15th, 22nd and 26th, respectively.
"We got a little strung out but it wasn't bad," Harrington said. "These guys have to figure out who to run together with. It's kind of a new crew that way. We have to learn to tighten up a couple things but that's what these meets are about."
Batavia's 126 points left the Bulldogs in fourth place just 9 points out of second in a performance that had veteran coach Mike DiDomenico looking for big things this fall.
"They are great kids," DiDomenico said. "They work hard and we just have to see what the season unfolds. We had a great summer. But it's early. The season goes by kind of quick so we have to make sure we stay injury free and keep working and improving. These kids are dedicated and hopefully after today they start to believe in what they can do and what their potential is."
Junior Mitch Zabka paced the Bulldogs taking fifth in 15:02. Chris Orlow was 10th and DiDomenico wouldn't be surprised if he's even higher in the future.
"Mitch did a great, great job," DiDomenico said. "He's one of our leaders as a junior. Chris had a difficult start. I know he'll be up there with him."
Ryan Wieties, Jordan Berendt and Ricky Downs rounded out Batavia's top five in 32nd, 39th and 40th.
"It's a great start for Batavia cross county," DiDomenico said. "The key is to keep it going. I think those kids will take care of business up front. Hopefully we have a back door and then everything else will fall into place. There's a little bit of luck involved too."
John Graft, coming off a runner-up finish at the Aurora City Meet last Saturday, led seventh-place Marmion by taking seventh himself in 15:17.
Max Rowland led St. Charles East (11th place) in 13th in 15:24. Geneva took 13th paced by Dan Herrera in 23rd.