It's a different year, and there are different challenges, but Belvidere North and senior Tyler Yunk are aiming for the same results.
Belvidere North has won three consecutive Class 2A titles in boys cross country and Yunk has two consecutive second place finishes.
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The Blue Thunder displayed its power on Saturday at the 38th annual Harvey Braus Lancer Invitational rolling to the title with 61 points Lake Park East Campus.
Senior Garrett Lee led the charge for Belvidere North taking first in 14:41, he was followed by Yunk (14:49) and senior Paxson Menard (14:59) who took second and third giving the Blue Thunder an impressive sweep of the top three spots.
"It's tough every year," said Yunk of the Blue Thunder streak. "We still have a solid core and we know what to do."
Deerfield (74 points) nipped host Lake Park (76 points) for second place, Plainfield East (108 points) took fourth place, followed by Downers Grove North (113 points).
Schaumburg senior Evan Prizy (15:01) took fourth place, followed by Plainfield East's Joseph Suarez (15:07).
Alex Gold (15:21) and Jordan Abosch (15:26) took 8th and 10th place to help pace Deerfield. Shai Farhi (15:34), Maor Kramer (15:55), and Charles Nashes (15:56) also gave the Warriors a lift by taking 15th, 20th, and 21st place.
Deerfield moved down to Class 2A this season, and will definitely be in the state mix based on its early results.
"We know we have a lot of work to do if we want to be up there with the best in 2A," said Gold.
Lake Park is another team that is clearly moving up. Last week the Lancers edged Oak Park-River Forest for the Benton Invitational title, they kept the pressure on this week.
Junior Jeremy Lozano (15:17) and senior Dakota Morales (15:18) fueled the Lancers charge by finishing 6th and 7th.
"We had a lot of young guys last year and now we're year older," said Lozano of the Lancers experience. "I think we're making the transition."
The Lancers came through the first mile in a tight pack and that set the tone for the race.
Junior Eric Dade (15:32) took 14th place, with senior Connor Peck (16:01) and junior Andy Tomaka (16:01) adding a 24th and 25th place finish for Lake Park.
"We knew after the mile mark it was time to go," said Morales of the Lancers charge. "Our pack is going to be dangerous, and we're making a name for ourselves."
Jake Runnion (15:24) took 9th place combining with Suarez 5th place finish to help Plainfield East secure fourth place.
Downers Grove North missed qualifying for state last season, but the Trojans may have something brewing this year.
Senior Ben Eaton (15:30) and junior Jared Spilky (15:48) took 12th and 18th place for Downers North helping the Trojans secure a solid fifth place finish.
Junior Jeremy Craven (15:57) and sophomore Ryan Clevenger (16:02) finished 22nd and 26th aiding a Trojan attack that was missing its No. 2 runner junior Zach Smith.
"We're really motivated this year," said Spilky of an improved Trojan attack. "Key has been a close pack for us."
Bartlett is also inspired this season, the Hawks are transitioning from a strong track season and are building momentum.
Senior Connor Rachford (15:43), junior Anthony Peters (15:49), and junior Dan Cotton 15:58 finished 16th, 19th, and 23rd spurring the Hawks to a 6th place finish.
Bartlett finished 10th last week at the St. Charles East Invite, but the Hawks did a nice job of rebounding on Saturday.
"We definitely came out different today, compared to the last couple of weeks," said Rachford of the Hawks performance. "We're starting to build and we're becoming the team we expected to be."
Senior Juan Barajas (15:27) took 11th place for Schaumburg combining with Prizy's fourth place finish to give the Saxons quite a lift up front.
Prizy fast start may have caught up with him in the final two miles, but the senior grinded out an impressive fourth place finish for the Saxons.
"I wanted to get out strong so I wouldn't lose the pack," said Prizy, "I wanted to push it and see what I could do."
Barajas kept close with Prizy, but unfortunately the Saxons had a huge drop after their third runner.
Hoffman Estates junior Billy Thomas (15:31) took 13th place; the Hawk junior has made quite a leap this season and is looking to be factor in the postseason.
"I just wanted to race," said Thomas who is hitting times that are comparable to what he was hitting at the end last season. "It's a good indication of my growth, definitely looking to reach my potential."