Barrington's Ryan Burgoon is ready for a big finish, and Lake Zurich is also coming on strong.
Burgoon was slow to start the season while coming off an injury, but the senior put it in high gear on Saturday taking fourth place in 15:29 at Wheeling's boys cross country invitational on the Allstate Campus in Northbrook.
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Lake Zurich also showed it will be a force in the state series by taking third place with 92 points in the 19-team field.
Seniors Garrett Lee (15:20) and Tyler Yunk (15:21) went 1-2 in leading three-time defending Class 2A state champion Belvidere North to the title with 46 points.
Senior Paxson Menard (15:36) finished fifth for a Blue Thunder squad that is aiming for its fourth consecutive Class AA title this season.
So far, they seam to be on target finishing with fiv erunners in the top 23.
"Since my freshman year the three of us have been setting the pace," said Lee, who is on the short list to win the Class AA individual title. "We've always been tight. It's about the team right now -- individuals honors will come later."
Senior Jonah Hanig (15:21) took third place leading Highland Park (89 points), ranked 12th in the Illinois Cross Country Coaches Poll, to a second-place finish.
Lake Zurich, Deerfield (137 points) and Barrington (143 points) rounded out the top five.
Burgoon entered the season with high expectations, and he seems on schedule to meet them.
Lee has notched the top time (14:27) on the state course at Detweiller Park this season, and Yunk has finished second in Class 2A the past two seasons.
Burgoon matched the power duo from Belvidere North on the Allstate Campus course that ran a bit slow.
"I went with an aggressive race plan," said Burgoon, who finished 23rd in Class 3A last season. "It's right where I want to be, and I haven't even peaked yet."
Lake Zurich is also peaking at the right time. The Bears have won four consecutive North Suburban Lake Conference titles and have also qualified to the state meet for four consecutive seasons.
Lake Zurich placed four runners in the top 25 just missing second place by 3 points on Saturday.
"We're coming around," said Lake Zurich coach J.B. Hanson whose team took 12th in Class 3A last season. "I don't think we put our best foot forward yet, but we're getting closer to the race we want."
That includes senior Alex Milner (15:39) who led LZ by taking sixth place, senior Trevor Kuehr (15:55, 13th), senior Jared Ripoli (16:06, 20th) and senior Jon Ramirez (16:09, 25th).
Milner lost connection with the lead group after the first mile, but the senior hung tough in pacing the attack.
"I went out with more control, but by the time I went to make a move the lead pack was cooking," said Milner, who features a solid finish. "We're putting the pieces together as a team."
Sixth-ranked Barrington has made plenty of noise this season, but the Broncos ran with a little less volume on Saturday while missing three of their top seven runners, including seniors Mike Rappleye and Kerry Frank.
Junior Jake Herb (16:10) and sophomore Konrad Eiring (16:12) complimented Burgoon by taking 26th and 29th place to pace the Broncos.
"We were missing a big gap," said Barrington coach Ty Gorman of short-handed attack. "Our younger guys kind of missed the senior leadership, they key off them."
Libertyville senior Nick Korhumel (15:45) continued his momentum by taking seventh place and leading the Wildcats to a seventh-place finish.
Korhumel finished strong edging St. Ignatius junior Christopher Korabik (15:46) and Deerfield senior Alex Gold (15:28).
"I felt the best this race that I have felt all year," Korhumel said. "I was with the top group for awhile, and whole second half of the race I was passing guys."
Freshman Seth Conroy (16:09) and freshman Keagan Smith (16:11) took 24th and 27th place pacing Huntley to a ninth-place finish.
Junior Nick Brey (15:55) paced St. Viator to 10th place finish by securing 12th place. Senior Kevin Schreiber (16:12) added a 28th-place finish for the Lions.
"It was a fast start and I just tried to stay with the leaders," Brey said. "We've improved as team from last year and we're aiming for a state qualification again."
Freshman Justin Loquerio (16:13) took 30th to pace host Wheeling to 11th place.
Senior Ryan Prais (16:03) secured 18th place in aiding Lakes to a 12th-place finish.