Prospect senior Quentin Shaffer stuck to the plan on Saturday at the Class 3A Schaumburg boys cross country sectional.
The Knights senior took control after the first mile and then answered every challenge Lake Forest senior Billy Bund threw at him in the final 2 miles in running to the title in 14:59 at Busse Woods on Saturday.
Things are also going according to plan for Lake Zurich. The Bears took it out conservatively, then came charging from behind to nail down the sectional title with 104 points, outdistancing Barrington (136 points) and Palatine (137 points).
Hersey (178 points) and Highland Park (200 points) secured the final two team spots for downstate berths, as the top five squads advanced to the Class 3A state race next Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Shaffer led the individual qualifiers followed by Bund, Buffalo Grove junior Steven Salvano (third place), McHenry sophomore Jessie Reisor (fifth place), Hoffman Estates junior Billy Thomas (7th place), Warren senior Martin Martinez (ninth place), and Libertyville senior Nick Korhumal (11th place).
Shaffer had company in the first mile, but the Knights senior jumped to the lead at the mile and a quarter. Bund joined Shaffer for the final 2 miles, but the Lake Forest senior could not quite catch Shaffer.
Then Shaffer sealed the victory with a strong finish.
"We kept battling until the last 300 meters," said Shaffer. "I stuck with the strategy and didn't really worry too much about time. I wanted to work the last mile."
Lake Zurich has been coming on strong, having won the North Suburban Conference and Grant regional titles the past two weekends. The Bears continued their surge on Saturday.
Senior Trevor Kuehr (15:26) set the tone with an eight-place finish; followed by senior Alex Milner (15:34), who took 14th. The Bears received a big lift from seniors Jon Ramirez (15:42) and senior Jared Ripoli (15:45) in 19th and 22nd place, and senior Rubin Riano (16:03) returned after missing regional's to take 41st place in powering LZ to the title.
"It's nice when it works out and goes according to plan," said Lake Zurich coach J.B. Hanson. "That is how the season has felt the last month or so."
Senior Ryan Burgoon (15:12) took fourth place in helping Barrington recover from a conservative first mile. The Broncos were a bit boxed in at the start but worked their way back into contention by the mile marker and finished with a flourish.
"I thought we might have got boxed in, but it didn't seem to matter," said Burgoon. "I felt great and I thought pace was perfect."
Senior Mike Rappleye (15:36) and junior Jake Herb (15:36) did a nice job in closing, picking up 16th and 17th place. Sophomore Konrad Eiring (15:57) help clinch second place by passing a Palatine runner in the home stretch.
The Broncos also got a lift from senior Kerry Frank (16:23) who came back from a stress fracture to take 66th place.
"I'm happy with the way we're running and I think we can only get better," said Barrington coach Ty Gorman.
Palatine, the Mid-Suburban League champions, took a risk early by going out hard and the Pirates paid for it late in a struggle to the finish.
Senior Christian Zambrano (15:22) led Palatine with a sixth-place finish, but there was a big hole between Zambrano and senior Brian Smith (15:49), who was the second Pirates runner in 27th.
"We fell a part a little bit in the back half of the race," said Zambrano whose team still has high hopes for the state race. "We're just looking to run our best race next week, and we obviously haven't done that the past two weeks."
Sophomore David Rodriguez (15:34) and junior Andy Philipose (15:35) took 13th and 15th place in leading Hersey to fourth place. The Huskies had a drop after their fourth runner and will be looking to correct that next week.
"If we get that fifth up with our fourth runner, we're in business," said Hersey coach Jay Renaud whose team got off to fast start. "But we made it out and the guys are really happy."
Salvano (15:11) once again showed he will be a force with a third-place finish for Buffalo Grove. As an emerging team, with two freshmen and two sophomores in their top five, the Bison just missed qualifying for their second consecutive state meet, finishing 12 points behind fifth-place Highland Park.
"We got everyone coming back next year, and it will make us work hard this winter," said Salvano who didn't fade after a strong start. "I just wanted to get position from the start and pushed the final mile."