There was no stopping Lake Park senior Kaylee Flanagan at the Palatine Invitational on Saturday.
The Lancers senior shook off a loaded field with an explosive first mile and never looked back in cruising to the title in a course record 16:49 at Deer Grove East.
It was Flanagan's fourth consecutive major invite win, all of them in course-record times, including her victory last weekend at the Richard Springs Invitational on the state meet course.
Flanagan seems destined for state glory, and the Lancer senior is wasting no opportunities along the way.
"She's been unstoppable," said Lake Park coach Lauren May. "She's going out fast and she's continuing to work on her second and third mile. She's comfortable running her own race and she has that confidence."
Louisville's Assumption, the two-time defending Kentucky Class 3A champion, placed five runners in the top 24 in securing its second consecutive Palatine Invite title with an impressive 50 points.
Lake Park took second with 112 points, followed by host Palatine (133 points), Wheaton Warrenville South (151 points), and Barrington (216 points).
Assumption juniors Bailey Davis (17:24) and Katherine Receveur (17:27) took second and third, followed by defending Class 2A champion Sami Staples (17:29) of Crystal Lake Central and Palatine senior Tess Wasowicz (17:30).
Buffalo Grove freshman Kaitlyn Ko (17:33) took sixth in front of Barrington freshman Lauren Conroy (17:41).
Flanagan set the tone with a blistering first mile (5:15) and didn't back off in cruising to her second consecutive Palatine Invite title.
Last year Flanagan took third in Class 3A for cross country and then won the Class 3A 3,200 title in track. One change in her routine is the lethal opening pace that has left the competition in her wake.
"I'm not fearless -- I respect the competition and I have pre-race jitters," said Flanagan, "but I always like to go out fast, and today I wanted to use the wind."
Lake Park senior Brianne Murphy (17:76) and senior Samantha Montalbano (18:05) provided support with 17th and 21st place in leading a veteran team to a solid second-place finish.
"That experience is going to help them," said May, who has five seniors in her top seven. "They know what to expect."
Palatine also has some pretty high expectations this season, and senior Tess Wasowicz continues to lead the way.
Wasowicz (17:30) was followed by junior Liz Cox (17:57) and junior Jessica Lincoln (18:06), who took 18th and 23rd place, in pacing the Pirates.
"We can do better, but it was a good finish for us," said Wasowicz who has elevated her performance this season. "It was one of my better races; I was able to stay focused the whole time. The second mile was key and I was able to carry it to the end."
Wheaton Warrenville South seems to awakening from some early season doldrums. Senior Hope Schmelzle (17:53) and senior McKenna Kiple (18:07) took 15th and 25th place, and senior Erin Herrmann (18:12) finished 28th.
Wheaton South has earned three straight state trophies, including consecutive second-place finishes. The Tigers showed on Saturday they will once again be in the trophy hunt.
"State meets aren't won in September, they are won in November," said Schmelze. "That's what we're focusing on. We're using every meet as a stepping stone and we're focusing on the end."
Barrington also took a step forward on Saturday, with junior Cary Reynolds (18:04) taking 20th place and combining with Conroy to lead the Fillies to fifth place. With top runner Rebecca Batliner, the 2009 Palatine Invite champion, rounding into form after battling mono; Conroy has sparked the Fillies.
"I think we're going to keep getting better," said Conroy who has had an impressive debut for the Fillies. "I'm just trying to do my own thing and not worry about the competition."
Staples got a boost after winning the Class 2A title last season, and the sophomore seemed to be in her comfort zone in leading Crystal Lake Central to a seventh-place finish.
"I feel like I'm getting better," added Staples, "and the competition has really pushed me."
Buffalo Grove freshman Kaitlyn Ko has been running like a veteran, and the Bison freshman continued to impress on Saturday with her sixth-place finish. Ko won the Warren Invitational last weekend and kept the successful run going at Palatine.
"I wanted to see where I stood with some of the top runners," said Ko. "It feels good to be able to stick with them."
Cary-Grove sophomore Talia Duzey (17:44) made quite an impression in finishing 10th for the Trojans. Last year she just missed qualifying for the Class 3A state meet, but this year the sophomore seems to be on the fast track for qualifying.
"I just started fast and tried to keep my pace up," said Duzey who led the Trojans to a 12th-place team finish. "It definitely has given me a boost in confidence."
St. Viator senior Hanna Winter doesn't really need a boost in confidence, the Lion senior made Class 3A all-state last season with a 19th-place effort. Winter (17:48) kept it rolling on Saturday, taking 12th place and pacing St. Viator's 16th-place finish.
"I'll be trying to shoot for a higher finish at state," said Winter who will be competing in Class 2A this season. "I'm motivated to do better, and I'm excited my times keep dropping."
Junior Meaghan Gelinas (18:29) helped pace Lake Zurich to a ninth-place finish, securing 38th place for the Bears.
Libertyville sophomore Kristi Del Prato (17:55) finished strong with a 16th place finish leading the Wildcats to 18th place.
Prospect was missing senior star Brooke Wolfe, but senior Lauren Poplawksi (18:09) paced the Knights attack with a 27th place finish as Prospect took tenth.
Senior Gabby Hesslau (18:15) grabbed 29th place in leading Downers Grove North (11th).
Senior Ellie Palacios (18:18) secured 32nd place for Mundelein (13th).