The Glenbard South boys cross country team has been under the microscope ever since receiving national recognition before the season began.
"It's a blessing and a curse," Glenbard South junior Joe Singleton said after he and the Raiders finished runner-up at the Class 2A Wheaton Academy regional Saturday morning at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago.
John Wold also continues to make the most of a shortened season for Glenbard South.
In only his third week back after suffering a broken right foot, Wold, fourth in state for the Raiders last year, toured the 3-mile course in 14 minutes and 52 seconds to take the overall title.
"I'm just glad to be back running," Wold said after turning back classmate Singleton by 18 seconds. "I missed (competing) so much. (My foot) is feeling great now. I have only run two meets (before today)."
John O'Rourke, Ricardo Hilliard and Collin Meade were the other contributing scorers for Glenbard South, which was second to Yorkville 67-85.
With all seven teams in the field guaranteed sectional berths at the same location on Saturday, the Raiders will look to fine tune for another state berth.
"I have high hopes for the team," Wold said ."We will be contending for another trophy at state."
St. Francis' Nick Vilimek and Andrew Hollet were five seconds apart to guide the Spartans' fourth-place team result.
Noah Van Dyke and Widi Moestopo were a similar distance apart to lead host Wheaton Academy to fifth.
The girls regional was as tight as a jar of homemade molasses.
Yorkville, the defending state champion, held off furious challenges from Montini, third last year in Peoria, and Glenbard South.
State veterans Theresa Connelly and Catherine Kitz piloted the Broncos, who fell 58-61 to the Foxes.
Glenbard South, led by Jayme Schlenker and Diane Lipa, was a point behind Montini for third.
"I ran hard," said Connelly, who was second to Yorkville senior Skylar Bollinger. "It's a slower course."
"For a regional meet that was a fantastic meet," Montini coach Pete Connelly said.
"I tried to run even splits," Schlenker said of her results. "It's not a PR, but it's still pretty good."
St. Francis also made the sectional cut as Kate Roback and Jenna DiValerio headlined the Spartans' fourth-place result.
"We try to feed off of each other," Roback said of her senior classmate.
Jackie Smith had the lowest time in leading three at-large qualifiers for host Wheaton Academy.
"I did a fast first mile," the returning state qualifier said. "I had a lot of strength in the first mile."
Class 3A West Chicago regional:
West Chicago hosted a Class 3A regional in the afternoon at the same location.
Elly DeTurris' splendid clocking of 17:19.9 anchored another wondrous performance by Naperville North.
Maria McDaniel and Judy Pendergast were second and third for the Huskies, who easily dispatched conference rivals Wheaton Warrenville South and Naperville Central.
The Huskies had six runners in the top nine alone.
"(Naperville North) may be the best team in the history of the state," WW South coach Rob Harvey said.
"One of the biggest strategies we carry out is teamwork," DeTurris said. "It gives us confidence to go out there."
Four-year WW South standouts Hope Schmelzle and McKenna Kiple, the anchors on the Tigers' state-record 3,200-meter relay in track and field, led the reigning state runners-up.
"I'm excited to see what I can do the next couple of weeks," said Schmelzle, fourth overall. "I definitely want to keep pushing."
West Chicago denied Waubonsie Valley to earn its first team bid in program history to the St. Charles East sectional.
In the large-school boys race, WW South senior Nolan McKenna secured his first major individual title of the season.
'I have been right there in the past," McKenna said. "I knew I had to push through the third mile."
Naperville North won the team title, with WW South, Naperville Central, Benet and Waubonsie Valley also advancing to St. Charles East.
Class 3A Lake Park girls regional:
Glenbard West's Madeleine Perez led the way in 16:28.1 over the 3-mile course at Lake Park's East Campus.
York senior Emma Fisher took second in 16:48.6, with Glenbard West's Lisa Luczak third in 16:52.3 and Lake Park senior Kaylee Flanagan fourth in 17:11.1.
Lake Park won the team championship with 43 points, edging Glenbard West, second with 47.
Class 3A Lockport girls regional:
Neuqua Valley took second place with 48 points, 10 behind Lockport. The Wildcats' Claire Costelloe finished third in 19:38, and teammate Julia Pena, a freshman, was fourth in 19:42 over the 3.1-mile course at Dellwood Park.
Class 3A Wheaton North boys regional:
The host Falcons won the meet with 34 points, easily defeating second-place St. Charles North, which scored 74.
Junior Joseph Emmanuel placed second individually in 15:31.3 for the Falcons, with senior Zach Ewoldt fifth in 15:39.0 over the 2.95-mile course at St. James Farm.
Class 3A Lockport boys regional:
Neuqua Valley won the team title with 45 points, 5 better than second-place Plainfield South. Junior Nick Bushelle led the Wildcats, finishing the 3.1-mile course at Dellwood Park in 16:07 to place fourth overall. Teammate Alekh Meka was fifth in 16:11.
Class 1A Aurora Christian boys regional:
Lisle junior Jefferson Chan finished the 2.95-mile course at Oakhurst Forest Preserve in 16:55.1 to qualify for next week's sectional. Teammate Joe Chernov also qualified in 18:16.5.