Prospect's Quentin Schaffer is definitely a star on the rise.
The Knights senior, a virtual unknown last year, has exploded on to the scene this year and seems to be shining more brightly each week.
Schaffer battled Highland Park senior Jonah Hanig and Fremd junior Harry Winter for the first 2 miles of the Bill Dortch/Harry Carlson Invitational at Adler Park in Libertyville on Saturday before it became a two-man race between Schaffer and Hanig in the final mile.
Schaffer used a surge with just under a half-mile left to pull away and secure the title in 15:25. His effort led Prospect to the team title with 53 points.
"It has boosted my confidence," said Schaffer of his successes this fall. "Coming from last year and not being as good, to starting this year with a couple victories and realizing I can run with the top guys."
Hanig (15:29) and Winter (15:37) took second and third, followed by Hoffman Estates junior Billy Thomas (15:17) and Highland Park's Angel Estrada (15:52).
Prospect rebounded from a tough dual meet loss to Hersey on Thursday by having five runners in the top 20 spots.
Junior Max Daleiden (15:58) and senior Michael Leet (16:02) finished 9th and 10th, with senior Blake Hallman (16:15) and Thomas Paczko (16:40) adding 13th and 20th place.
"They took it from Hersey and tried to make something out of it today," said Prospect coach Mike Stokes of the Knights' recovery. "We're making progress, and our back group is definitely getting better. It's coming along."
Leet had a so-so race on Thursday, but the senior was back in form on Saturday.
"I regrouped mentally and got ready for today, and raced hard," said Leet of his performance. "I'm feeling comfortable, but I definitely have some room for improvement."
Highland Park (60 points) was able to hold off Fremd (68 points) for second, followed by Vernon Hills (121 points), Libertyville (128 points), and St. Viator (137 points).
Winter also has had a fast start for Fremd this season. Last week, the Vikings junior took fourth at the First to the Finish Invitational in Peoria.
Winter kept rolling on Saturday, hanging with Schaffer and Hanig for the first 2 miles before falling off the lead pace.
"I'm off to a really good start, but I need to start taking charge of the races," said Winter who was disappointed he could not answer the leaders' third-mile surge. "If I'm with the leaders the first 2 miles, I just have to have the confidence to finish it."
Junior Nick Vucovich (15:54) also had an impressive race for the Vikings with a sixth-place finish.
Junior Kyle Whitney (16:08) and senior Ben Mohrdieck (16:20) finished 11th and 14th to pace Vernon Hills' fourth-place finish.
The Cougars missed qualifying for the Class 2A state meet last season, but Whitney and his team have shown improvement and like their chances at a downstate berth this season.
"I think we're on the right track to do that," said Whitney. "It helps running against some of the Class 3A schools. It builds confidence."
Libertyville's Nick Korhumel missed qualifying for the Class 3A state meet by one spot last season, and then had his junior track season wiped out due to an injury.
That has motivated the Wildcat senior this year.
Korhumel (15:56) paced host Libertyville on Saturday with an eighth-place finish.
"I was so close to making it to state last season, and having it taken away . . . This year I'm definitely hungrier than anyone else out there," Korhumel said. "There's no doubt I'll be in the same position I was in last year, but I'm hoping to get there this time."
Junior Nick Brey (16:14) and senior Kevin Schreiber (16:21) finished 12th and 15th in leading St. Viator to a sixth-place finish.
Brey has turned it up a notch this season. He's teaming with Schreiber to have the Lions on target for earning a second consecutive Class 2A state trip.
"We lost a few of our seniors from last year, so I knew I had to step it up," said Brey. "We're looking to not only go downstate, but also shoot for a top 10 finish."
Thomas, a junior, finished in 15:52 for Hoffman Estates. He cruised through the first mile with the lead pack, but fell off a bit in the final 2 miles.
"I'm looking to stay up with the leaders and keep gaining ground each race," said Thomas.
Richard Spring Memorial Invitational: York was the heavy preseason favorite to secure its 28th state title this season, and the Dukes showed why on Saturday.
York stormed to the title with 93 points at the Richard Spring Memorial Invitational at Detweiller Park in the loaded 60-team field in Peoria.
Junior Kyle Mattes (14:44), senior Alex Mimlitz (14:44), and senior Chris May (14:45) secured places 6 through 8 in pushing the Dukes' 79-point advantage over second place O'Fallon (172 points).
Senior Garrett Lee (14:27) and senior Tyler Yunk (14:36) took first and third place to lead three-time defending Class 2A state champion Belvidere North to third place with 184 points.
Senior Christian Zambrano (15:03) and sophomore Graham Brown (15:03) took 23rd and 24th place to pace defending state champion Palatine to fourth place with 215 points.
Junior Andy Philipose (15:00) was 21st in helping up-and-coming Hersey (293 points) nip Barrington (299 points) for sixth place.
Barrington senior Ryan Burgoon (14:58) returned from an early season injury to take 19th place.
Schaumburg senior Evan Prizy (14:56) was the top Mid-Suburban League runner; he placed 17th.