Chad Clarey has seen enough Eddington Invitationals to know how good the competition will be.
It was no different Saturday at Elburn Woods where Crystal Lake Central's Alex Baker shattered the course record with a 15:27 to win by 26 seconds over DeKalb's Marc Dubrick.
The Tigers were just as impressive as a team, taking the team title over Jacobs by 30 points, 61-91. West Aurora, Benet and DeKalb rounded out the top five, with Clarey's Knights in sixth.
"It's always a tough field," Clarey said. "We had a couple things against us today as far as personnel and illness but I thought our boys did very, very well. All of them who competed were either hitting their PR on their home course or their career PR"
Junior Kyle Carter led the way. He ran with West Aurora's Omar Gomez nearly the entire race and finished five seconds back of Gomez in fourth place (16:08).
"He was very amped up about getting started," Clarey said. "He wanted to have a strong time today. He might have gave a little too much at the first 800 of the race which is the peak of the hill. Instead of being the hunted becoming the hunter, we have to make sure he understands that at the beginning of the race as well as he understands it clearly at the end of the race being the hunter and picking people off. He was just a little too strong on the first half and our first half is about as brutal as it gets."
Senior Conor Johnson set his PR by 24 seconds to take second for the Knights and 18th overall.
"Huge race for him," Clarey said. "As a senior he really led our charge."
The rest of the Knights -- John Meisenger, Ryan Bower and Brandon Huber -- packed up pretty well finishing from 34th to 44th.
"John, 8-second career PR, Ryan is new to varsity but filling role we need of someone coming up and being a 4-5 guy. Fifth Brandon, little sore this morning in foot and wasn't sure if he would race but jumped in and raced very well having that foot pain," said Clarey who also said sixth and seventh runners Nathan Kucera and Ryan Paulson set their PR.
"We're happy to get through the day healthy and hopefully keep the train rolling from here," Clarey said.
Despite a runner-up finish Jacobs coach Kevin Christian wasn't too pleased. He said his normal front-runner didn't have his best race dropping the Golden Eagles from what would have been a tighter race with Crystal Lake Central.
"Our top guy had an off day," Christian said. "We ran with Central 1-4 but without him it changes our team completely. When we get him back where we're supposed to be, they are going to be OK."
Matt Johnson (seventh, 16:24) and Ryan Ross (ninth, 16:32) both finished in the top 10 for Jacobs.
West Aurora coach Matt Sinnott had plenty to like about the Blackhawks' third-place finish.
"I'm happy with all of them," Sinnott said. "We've been battling some injuries and other issues on the team. It was nice to put everybody out there and see what we had."
As he has all year, Gomez got the Blackhawks going with his third-place run.
"He's a consistent front-runner for us," Sinnott said. "He does a great job in practice. He gives everything he has in a race. We can depend on him to be up in the front."
Both West Aurora's second and third runners, Robert Herrera and Deonta Motley, continued their move up to 13th and 27th.
"Robert is closing the door a little, and seeing Deonta is getting closer to Robert, that's even more encouraging," Sinnott said.
Geneva and Burlington Central Central placed eighth and ninth, respectively. Seniors Nathan Wendt, Dan Herrera and Ryan Rasmussen ran together to take 20th, 23rd and 24th for Geneva while the Rockets' Clay Musial and Josh Schwarting weren't far behind in 26th and 28th.
Senior Brandon Bonifer took 10th in 16:33 to pace seventh-place Glenbard West. Wal Khat took sixth to lead Mooseheart.
Benet's Anton Vershay ran a 16:21 to take fifth.
"I felt I ran very well with the competition," Vershay said. "The key is the hill and I feel I tackled the objective very well. With the caliber of runners here I feel fifth place is a very good spot."
The Redwings finished fourth overall with Bobby Svoboda following Vershay in 12th.
"We did really well, ran with good paces," Vershay said. "Overall it's been a good day."