With a new champion just about every fall, the North Suburban Conference girls cross country meet has become a very unpredictable event.
That was the case again Saturday afternoon on the soggy 3-mile Fox River State Park course as Lake Forest took home the championship of the 13-team meet by a narrow 49-57 margin over runner-up Warren.
The light rain did not seem to bother the runners too much as Lake Forest's Elle Chody (19:12) held off second-place finisher Meg Tully of Warren by three seconds to capture the individual title just over the state line in Silver Lake, Wis.
Defending NSC champion Lake Zurich (87 points) had to settle for a solid third-place finish this time around while Mundelein (101 points) was not too far behind the Bears in fourth place. Libertyville (133 points) had a good fifth-place finish led by Kristi Del Prato's third-place run while Vernon Hills (139 points) was a close sixth in the final team standings.
Warren coach Brett Heimstead was elated by his team's strong performance heading into Class 3A regional competition next Saturday at Adler Park.
"She (Tully) 100 percent deserved to be there after four years of hard work and this is a big payoff for her," said Heimstead, whose team placed fifth in the NSC last year. "Meg (Tully) and Rachel (Shoemaker) have had great senior leadership all year and no matter the outcome today I'm very proud of our race."
After Tully in second, junior Greta Doden placed 11th for the Blue Devils to nip Shoemaker in 13th. Warren's pack was outstanding with Becky Haight (14th), and freshman Emily Jahn (17th) also earning all-conference (top 30) medals.
"It started off so fast and I didn't get into second place until right before the second mile," said Tully. "The course wasn't as muddy as I expected and our top five all got top 30 finishes."
Led by Meaghan Gelinas in fourth, Lake Zurich displayed some steady pack running behind Katie Fabbrini in 12th, Nicole Syverson in 19th, and Kristie Houghton in 20th.
"We've been stronger, but considering where we are at in this point of the season and how we've been training they did well," said Lake Zurich coach Ian Silverman. "It's nice to see the conference race have multiple strong teams and it helps us to get focused and prepare for the sectionals."
Mundelein also had four all-conference runners Saturday behind Ellie Palacios (ninth), Steph Johnson (16th), Emily Schlebecker (22nd), and Claire Naughton (23rd).
"We were in a position to win it with a mile to go and we just got beat in the last mile," said Mundelein coach John Osmanski. "We're disappointed with the last mile because we were definitely in contention to win so we have to regroup and get ready for next week."
Senior Kristen Whitney was very impressive for Vernon Hills in sith place as was Lakes sophomore Danielle Griesbaum in eighth.
Grant's squad was led by junior Lindsey Lewis in 10th while Lakes' young team also featured a strong 18th-place run by freshman Kortney Schardt.
Wauconda was led by Lexi Brunn in 24th while host Antioch was paced by Alyssa Aschenbrener in 25th. Other all-conference runners were Vernon Hills' Samantha Hershman (26th), Libertyville's Abigail Toohey (27th), Grant's Madison Romig (28th), Libertyville's Hannah Manetsch (29th), and Vernon Hills' Lexi Reich (30th) Mundelein's Kelsey Loar placed 31st.