The Grayslake Central girls cross country team knew it was going to be tough to catch state-ranked Marengo on Saturday morning at the 14th Annual James "J.T." Taylor Invitational hosted by Grant.
And that proved to be the case as the runner-up Rams put up a valiant effort against individual champion Katie Adams (18:17) on the new 3-mile Camp Henry Horner course only to see the Indians take the team championship of the 14-team meet by a final score of 39-71. Adams placed seventh in Class 2A last fall.
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Chilly running conditions in the high 40's and a lot of wind were not typical for this late September meet, but Grant's Lindsey Lewis still finished strong with a second-place clocking of 19:18 for the Bulldogs.
Grayslake Central also had some runners in the lead pack Saturday with juniors Jamie Brew and Korina Gomez placing fourth and fifth, respectively, for the Rams. Senior Jordan Larson added a 14th-place finish for Central while teammate Maggie Wehde placed 21st.
"We ran a strong race and it was a good learning experience because it was a different course this year and there were some rough weather conditions," said Grayslake Central coach Jim Centella. "Elsie Rehberg was not here because she was sick all week, but we still ran awesome."
Led by Caitlin Murphy in eighth and Theresa Gray in 17th, Carmel took home sixth place with 155 points to easily outdistance Fenton (197 points) in seventh, and Wauconda (249 points) in eighth.
"She (Murphy) had what for her was an off day today, but she had flu-like symptoms and she was really sore," said Carmel coach Jim Halford. "But she has been running really well lately and she took sixth in the first (ESCC) conference championship on Wednesday."
Wauconda senior Lexie Brunn put together another strong race as the Bulldogs' No. 1-runner in 10th place and Wauconda coach Al Willhoit is hoping for even better things for Brunn before the 2012 campaign ends. Wauconda's Maren DeWyze ran at the frosh-soph level Saturday.
"Lexie is looking good and she's been training with the boys now for the last couple of weeks in practice," Willhoit said. "She has qualified for sectionals the last couple of years and she wants to try to get to state this year."
Grayslake North senior Brooklynn Histle was the Knights' top runner in 19th place while senior teammate Emily Lyon placed 36th.
"Brooklynn was our fastest girl today and we are keeping Erin Llanes-Smith out for a week to make sure her shin injury doesn't get any worse," said Grayslake North coach Brandon Boyd. "That was a p.r. for (Histle), she's seeing a lot of good progress this year, and she's responding to the training."
Senior Bianca Ortega led Round Lake's pack in 29th place while Katie Housner was Carmel's No. 3-runner in 35th. Miranda Gomez placed 37th for Grayslake Central while junior Rachel Thompson added a 40th-place run for Wauconda.
"I challenged her (Lewis) to try to stay up with Adams early, but she (Adams) is a phenomenal runner," said Grant coach Jeff Durlak. "Lindsey (Lewis) has been progressing steadily throughout the year and now we're going to start getting ready for the stretch run and the end of the year."