Barrington freshman Lauren Conroy prepared for the worst and ended up the best.
Conroy knew she'd be dealing with some nasty weather at the Mid-Suburban League girls cross country meet at Busse Woods Forest Preserve, and a persistent rain didn't disappoint her.
But Conroy made the best of a not-so-ideal situation, taking command of the race in the final 400 meters to win the MSL title in 17:28.
Conroy stuck with Palatine senior Tess Wasowicz early, then jockeyed with Schaumburg sophomore Caroline Kurdej the final 2 miles before making her title surge in the home straightaway.
"Coach (Revolta) told us to prepare for the worse," said Conroy regarding the weather conditions. "I just kind of went out and had fun with it."
Wasowizc (17:46) and junior Jessica Lincoln (18:00) took fourth and fifth place leading Palatine to the team title with 52 points. The Pirates were followed closely by Barrington (58 points).
Palatine's No. 3 runner Cassidy McPherson had been battling the flu the past two days, and Barrington could taste an upset. But the Pirates showed some poise by placing six runners in the top 25.
"I knew we would have to have some people step up," said Palatine coach Joe Parks, who won his first MSL title as coach. "We came to win the title and that is what we did. We'll take it."
Conroy certainly stepped forward, too. The Fillies frosh was locked in an intense battle with Kurdej in the final 2 miles, but was able to match every move the Saxons sophomore threw at her.
"There was a lot of bumping as I tried to get into first," said Kurdej, who tried shaking Conroy. "But every time she stuck with me."
"She would get a little ahead and I would go with her," said Conroy who finally was able to break free with the finish line in site. "I thought right then it was time to go."
Both Conroy and Kurdej keyed off of Wasowicz in the early stages, before locking into the two-runner duel at the end.
"I tried but I couldn't push myself at the end," said Kurdej. "But it's still a huge accomplishment to get second place in this conference."
Buffalo Grove freshman Kaitlyn Ko (17:43) kept the youth movement going by taking third place for the Bison. Ko ran a controlled race holding off Wasowicz in the final mile.
"I was trying to stay with the front pack, but at some point it became a little too far," said Ko. "I'm happy with the way I finished."
Palatine is also happy with the way it collectively finished. Wasowicz and Lincoln set the tone, with junior Liz Cox (18:19) and sophomore Amy Kieliszewski (18:25) taking 11th and 12th.
"It was definitely a team effort," said Wasowicz of the Pirates' first title since 2008. "Even though I didn't have the best race, the girls in the back definitely made up for it."
Freshman Sabina Yosif (18:42) and McPherson (18:57) secured 20th and 25th place to nail down the title for the Pirates.
"The main thing was going out and running for the team," Lincoln said. "We had nothing to lose so we just went for it."
Junior Caroline Reynolds (18:04) gave Barrington a huge lift by finishing seventh ahead of senior teammates Rachel Simon (18:28) and Rebecca Batliner (18:29) in 13th and 14th. Junior Camille Blaisdell (18:48) placed 23rd.
"The kids really stepped up," said Barrington coach Debbie Revolta. "It was a great battle between two good teams. We took another step forward this week, and they are starting to realize they are a good team."
Schaumburg also showed some potential. Kurdej led the charge and was supported by sophomore Ali Gut (18:03) and sophomore Erin Falsey (18:14) in sixth and ninth for the third-place Saxons.
"It's really no surprise when you see how they have been training," said Schaumburg coach Jason Beer of his team's climb. "It's fun to see them have success."
Fremd senior Kelly Breen (18:09) has been slowed by some iron deficiency issues, but she picked it up on Saturday with an eighth-place finish to lead the Vikings to fourth place with 105 points. Senior Megan Moroney (18:31) and sophomore Ayako Higuchi (18:39) added to the Vikings' charge by taking 15th and 18th place.
"Every race I'm feeling stronger," said Breen, who is putting her experience to good use, saying, "You just know what to expect."
Senior Lauren Poplawski (18:15) and sophomore Hannah Getschman (18:39) finished 10th and 19th to help Prospect finish fifth. Two-time defending MSL champion Brooke Wolfe has been dealing with a hip injury. The Knight senior started the race but didn't finish.
"We knew that Brooke wouldn't be running at her full strength," said Poplawski, "but we were hoping the pack would be able to move up, we're still hoping to pull it together before state."
Solome Haile (18:33) and Alondra Aguirre (18:45) finished 16th and 21st leading Hoffman Estates to a sixth-place finish.
Freshman Zoe Shore (18:37) and sophomore Abby Tripp (18:47) took 17th and 22nd in leading host Conant to seventh place.