It was a fight to the finish for the individual title of the Wauconda Invitational Saturday morning on the new 3-mile Lakewood Forest Preserve course.
Warren senior Martin Martinez (15:39.12) led for a good part of the race, but he had to settle for second place behind individual champion Jesse Reiser (15:35.96) of McHenry.
Crystal Lake Central (98 points) rolled to the team championship in the 22-team meet, while Oak Park-River Forest nipped Stevenson 136-137 for second place. Vernon Hills (185 points) placed sixth behind a strong tandem of runners, while Warren (189 points) was not too far behind in eighth place.
"He (Reiser) outkicked me basically in the end, but it's early in the season and it was a fast first mile," said Martinez, who placed 24th in Class 3A last year.
"I was leading a little bit during the second mile and then he pulled away in the last 300 meters of the race."
Lakes senior Ryan Prais had a great fourth-place finish, while Stevenson's push for third place was led by senior Brendan Wood in fifth place.
Sam Oh added a 12th-place finish for the Patriots followed by teammate Thomas Russell in 35th.
"The kids are really coming together and we have an awesome pack that is really tight," said Stevenson coach Scott Sommers, who is in his fifth season.
"We only ran six today because we had some kids out for the ACT. But the times were good and everyone dropped anywhere from 15 seconds to 50 seconds in the top group there."
Vernon Hills' pack was led by Kyle Whitney in eighth and Ben Mohrdieck in ninth, while teammate Nicholas Webber placed 26th for the Cougars.
Dustin Throw was Cary-Grove's top finisher in seventh place followed by Mundelein's Liam Mellon in 13th.
"That's probably the best race I've seen Liam run, and he really charged after the first mile and a half," said Mundelein coach John Osmanski. "We're young with a lack of varsity experience right now, and we put a lot of our varsity runners on the fresh-soph level to get them some medals today."
Grayslake North junior Ryan Bruder had an excellent 15th-place showing to lead the Knights' pack, while Cary-Grove's Daniel Sikora placed 31st. Warren's Reese Brady came in 34th place to outdistance top Round Lake runner Roberth Paz in 36th.
David Cerney was Barrington's No. 1 runner in 39th place, as he edged top Grant runner Peter Audrain in 40th. Barrington also got a 43rd-place run from Jake Herb, while Jorge Costilla placed 45th for Grant.
Stevenson teammates Jon Rice (46th) and Alex Mazursky (47th) were very steady, while Warren's Marcus Shamberg placed 48th. Daniel Gardiner added a 51st-place finish for Stevenson to outdistance Warren's Adam Shurson in 53rd.