Palatine won the Class 3A girls cross country state title in 2009 and finished second in 2010, but the Pirates slipped a bit in 2011, finishing 10th.
Even by its own lofty standards, Palatine seems to be back on track this season.
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Senior Tess Wasowicz (19:32) and junior Jessica Lincoln (19:32) finished 2-3 leading Palatine to a 24-33 Mid-Suburban League West dual meet victory over host Conant at Busse Woods on Wednesday.
Sophomore Abby Tripp (19:14) took first overall to lead Conant.
Wasowicz finished 15th in Class 3A in 2010, but last year she just missed making all-state by one position, finishing 26th.
This year, Wasowic is off to a quick start. She finished seventh in a loaded field at Richard Spring Invitational last weekend at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Palatine tied Lake Park for second, but the Lancers were awarded second place with a sixth runner tie-breaking finish.
"I think expectations were really high for us last year and we may have peaked to early," said Wasowicz, "But I think we're in a really good spot this year. We're deeper this year. I can have a bad race and someone is ready to step up."
Liz Cox (20:34) finished fifth for the Pirates on Wednesday, and she has been key member of the Pirates' attack. Cox missed most of last season due to an injury but the junior is healthy this season.
Sophomore Kara Burton (20:38) added a sixth-place finish for Palatine.
The Pirates also have been supported by some young runners. On Wednesday Ana Maria Quiroga (20:42), junior Madi Berg (20:44), and Morgan Balog (20:46) stepped up to secure eighth through 10th place.
Wasowicz had a strong track season last spring and has had no letdown this fall.
"I think she is motivated as a runner this season," said Palatine coach Joe Parks. "She's figured things out and she's ready for a big finish."
Conant finished 10th in the MSL last season, but an infusion of youth has energized the program.
The Cougars were missing senior Mollie Dalton, but Tripp set the pace on Wednesday. Also aiding the Cougars were sophomore Zoe Shoro (19:45) and sophomore Michelle Marasigan (20:40), who took fourth and seventh place.
"Every time someone gets better the whole team improves," Tripp said. "I try to get better for myself and the team."
Palatine also defeated Larkin 15-50, and Conant defeated Larkin 15-50.