The Hersey boys cross country team finished in eighth place at the Mid-Suburban League meet last year and missed out on all the postseason fun.
This year the young Huskies are looking to join the party, and they made quite a statement on Thursday.
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Hersey attacked the first mile and then held its ground for the final 2 miles in defeating Prospect 23-32 in a high stakes MSL East dual meet at Melas Park in Arlington Heights.
Prospect senior Quentin Shaffer took the lead in the second mile and never looked back in securing first place in 15:15.
But it was all Hersey after that.
Sophomore David Rodriguez (15:30) and junior Andy Philipose (15:30) came in side-by-side in securing the 2-3 spots to put the the Huskies firmly in control of the MSL East race.
"We're so excited," said Philipose of the Huskies' improvement since last season. "Last year we had no expectations and no goals, and it didn't really work out. This year we have some big expectations."
Senior Ryan Kearns (15:44), senior Jack O'Neil (15:48), and senior Robert Somery (15:49) locked down the victory for the Huskies by taking places 5 through 7.
"That was key," said Rodriguez. "The seniors have really improved and we have grown as a team."
Rodriguez has also grown stronger this season, combining with Philipose to give the Huskies a solid 1-2 punch.
"That's one of our goals," said Hersey coach Jay Renaud, who is a 2005 Prospect graduate and ran for Knights coach Mike Stokes. "We just want to keep improving."
Shaffer made a break in the second mile and comfortably took the victory with a 15-second margin for Prospect.
Junior Max Daleiden (15:35) battled the whole race in securing fourth place, with junior Blake Hallman (15:54), senior Michael Leet (16:00), and sophomore Mike Anderson (16:02) taking places 8 through 10 for the Knights.
"Hersey came out on their home course and made a statement in the middle mile," said Stokes, who was denied his 150th victory. "It was a fast race, and I'm proud of how my guys ran."
Palatine 24, Barrington 32: Senior Christian Zambrano (15:36) and sophomore Graham Brown (15:46) finished 1-2 in the rain, leading Palatine to a 24-32 MSL West victory over host Barrington at Beese Park.
It was Palatine's 64th consecutive dual meet victory, tying Fremd for the most dual meet victories in MSL history. Fremd won 64 consecutive victories from 1974-1977. Palatine streak started in 2001. The Pirates will have an opportunity to break the MSL record next Wednesday at Conant.
"We've always said if you can be the best in the MSL, you can be the best in state," said Palatine coach Chris Quick, whose team has finish nine consecutive years in the top ten at the state meet. "We put a focus on these duals, and the seniors really stepped up today.
Senior Mike Rappleye (15:52), senior Kerry Frank (15:53), and senior Ryan Burgoon (15:53) finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th for the Broncos.
• David Cox contributed to this report.