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updated: 11/4/2012 12:10 AM

Van Vlierbergen, Duzey measure up downstate

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  • Laura Stoecker/lstoecker@dailyherald.comWarren's Michelle Klimt in the state cross country 3A final in Peoria on Saturday, November 3.

    Laura Stoecker/lstoecker@dailyherald.comWarren's Michelle Klimt in the state cross country 3A final in Peoria on Saturday, November 3.

By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent

PEORIA -- Jacobs sophomore Lauren Van Vlierbergen and Cary-Grove sophomore Talia Duzey both missed qualifying for last year's cross country state meet.

This year both made up for it, as Van Vlierbergen and Duzey were on target at the Class 3A state cross country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria

Van Vlierbergen came back from a foot injury that sidelined her from the regional to take seventh in Class 3A in 16:47.

"I couldn't believe it went out that fast, I'm not used to that," said Van Vlierbergen, the Fox Valley Conference champion. "But in the end I just wanted to give everything I had."

Duzey made a final surge to secure 25th place in 17:10 in one of the fastest fields in state meet history.

"It started really fast, but I felt really strong," said Duzey who finished fifth at the FVC meet. "Last year I had no kick at the end, this year I had one."

Duzey became the first Cary-Grove girl to secure a state medal in cross country.

"She had a good start, not too fast," said C-G coach Mark Anderson. "I thought she really started to move after the first mile, and I was glad she could hang on."

Naperville North won the Class 3A title with 113 points. The Huskies won their fifth state championship and were followed by a Lake Park (133 points). Glenbard West junior Madeline Perez shattered the state record by taking first in 16:02, eclipsing the mark by Woodstock's Kayla Beattie (16:22) set in 2010 Class 2A final.

Perez's performance spurred the Hilltoppers to a third-place team finish.

Libertyville sophomore Kristi Del Prato capped a strong season by taking 43rd place in 17:31. She beat her previous best mark at Detweiller by 38 seconds, and a strong start helped.

"She got out a little faster than we wanted her too," said Libertyville coach Bill Etnyre of Del Prato who led after the first 400 meters. "She's just improved so much, and she has spent a lot of time in the weight room getting stronger."

Del Prato struggled at state last season with a pulled hamstring, but the sophomore was feeling healthy on Saturday and it showed.

"I just wanted to come out and run a really strong race," she said. "Everything just felt a lot more comfortable this year, and I was really relaxed."

Mundelein senior Ellie Palacios (17:39) finished 54th for the Mustangs.

Warren qualified for its first state meet and senior Meg Tully led the Blue Devils to a 21st-place finish.

Class 2A

Crystal Lake Central sophomore Sami Staples was gunning for her second consecutive state title, and she hung tough, challenging Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton for much of the race.

But Clinton pulled away in the last mile to secure the Class 2A title in 16:56.

Staples, who has been battling bronchitis the past two weeks, finished strong in taking fourth place in 17:09.

"She had more than I did today, and she ran amazing," said Staples, who battled Clinton neck-and-neck the first 2 miles. "I just wanted to come out here and give it my all today, and I think I did."

Yorkville won the Class 2A team title with 66 points, followed by Normal University (112 points), with Montini (172 points) taking third on a tiebreaker.

Vernon Hills senior Kristin Whitney (18:13) finished 36th leading the Cougars to a 12th-place finish.

Grayslake Central took 15th place.

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