With its many steep hills and upgrades, the 3-mile Fox River Park course has always provided a very difficult terrain for boys cross country runners to navigate in the Pat Harland Invitational.
That was once again the case Saturday morning as Crystal Lake Central managed to hold off Jacobs 45-68 for the championship of the 15-team meet in Silver Lake, Wis.
Warren put together a great overall effort under the rather warm running conditions to take home third place with 114 points followed by Barrington (134 points) in fourth, Richmond-Burton (169) in fifth and Grayslake Central (170) in sixth.
CLC senior Alex Baker was very impressive running to first place in 15:32 with Lake Forest's Billy Bund (15:44) a distant second.
The battle for third place was extremely close, but Warren senior Martin Martinez (15:58.87) managed to edge Lakes senior Ryan Prais (15:59.65) going into the chute.
"It was right around the mile he (Baker) got a pretty good lead and then there was a small group of runners in a pack," said Martinez, who took 24th in Class 3A last fall. "All in all it was a decent race for me and it's a race I can build off of."
Lakes coach Andy Schroeder was also very happy with his top runner's performance Saturday as Prais will attempt to reach the state meet in Peoria for a third time in four seasons November 3 at Detweiller Park.
"Just getting through here healthy was our goal and Ryan (Prais) was one place up from where he finished here last year," said Schroeder, whose team will run on the same course for their conference and regional meets. "This course always seems to not be our favorite so we've got to make it our favorite because we have to come back here two more times."
Barrington's JV was led by senior Mike Rappleye in fifth and senior Jack Rogers in 24th.
"His job (Rappleye) was to try to stay with the leaders and he got in the group with the two Jacobs kids and moved up," said Barrington coach Ty Gorman, whose varsity is poised for a great end to the 2012 season. "Our varsity had their best race of the year last week at the Palatine Invite and we're hoping for big things by the end of the year."
The Golden Eagles' pack was led by the duo of senior Ryan Ross in sixth and junior Matt Johnson in seventh while teammates Zach Johnson (18th), Pat Nerja (19th), and Tyler Estell (21st) did a great job of pack running on the rugged course.
Grayslake Central really missed the presence of No. 1-runner Kevin Boyle in the meet, but sophomore Tommy Zygmunt stepped up with his best race of the season by placing 10th for the Rams. Grayslake Central's second runner was Kevin Orozco in 23rd.
"Our top runner did not run today so our other runners had to step it up," said Grayslake Central coach Jim Centella. "Alec Squillo (44th) just stepped it up huge today and he actually ending up finishing as our fourth runner today when he was expected to be seventh."
Besides Martin Martinez, Warren's push for third was also led by his younger sophomore brother Jakob Martinez in 17th, junior Marcus Shamberg in 26th, and sophomore Wil Kellerhals in 33rd.
"We were hoping to be a little more competitive, we've just got to get healthy for conference," said Warren coach Bill Dawson. "Martin always wants to do better because he's a competitor, but he got beat by two quality kids and he ran 35 seconds faster today than he did at the same meet last year."
Grayslake North junior Ryan Bruder had another great meet by leading the Knights' pack with a 15th-place finish. The host Sequoits were led by senior Anthony Formella in 27th followed by Jacobs' Josh Yelton in 30th, and Lakes' Jimmy Burchard in 31st.