For a girls cross country team still not at 100 percent, Geneva sure is making it look like big things are coming this fall.
The Vikings placed the seventh, eighth and ninth runners into the chute Saturday at Elburn Woods, leading the way to the team championship at the annual Eddington Invitational.
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Geneva scored 64 points to beat the 17-team field. Crystal Lake Central (79), Kaneland (122), Rosary (128) and Belvidere North (131) rounded out the top five.
The Vikings ran without Kathryn Adelman and Sydney Geils, both taking the ACT.
That gave coach Bob Thomson a chance to put some new faces in his lineup. Freshman Emma Ehrhardt responded by finishing as the fourth Geneva runner in 19th overall (20:19.7) and another freshman Mary Grace Neville was 36th in 21:06.
"Nineteenth was a very good day for her," Thomson said of Ehrhardt
Junior Brooke Nusser, sophomore McKenzie Altmayer and sophomore Emma McSpadden led the Vikings with just a 2-second gap between Nusser's 19:31.8 for seventh and McSpadden's 19:33.8 for ninth.
"We didn't tell them to run as a pack, their talent is such we have quite a few who are somewhat together," Thomson said. "It was nice to see Brooke have a good race."
Junior Marin Leone ran a 20:41 for 27th and senior Ana Samples a 21:01 (35th) for Geneva, who was coming off a ninth-place finish last Saturday in Peoria.
Next week's trip to Sterling could prove interesting for the Vikings. They aren't limited to just seven runners, so Thomson might have a chance to get all of his runners out and start to see who will emerge as his best lineup.
"We haven't run our top seven yet together," Thomson said. "We can give you a chance (at Sterling), you are in the same race, you get to compete together."
Sophomore Brianna Bower led host Kaneland in fifth place in 19:16 -- also the top time of any local runner. DeKalb's Kelsey Schrader covered the course in 18:30 to win the race, 36 seconds ahead of Marengo's Kitty Allen.
While Elburn Woods is Bower's home course, she said Saturday was the first time they have run it as a 3-mile course instead of the 2.4 mile layout when they previously ran it for a Tuesday meet.
"It felt good today," said Bower who beat her finish of ninth-place last week at Wauconda. "I think it's because it's nice weather and there was good competition. It was just an easy run."
Bower was part of a pack up front of about 15 runners through the first mile-plus of the race. About the mile and a half to two-mile mark Bower stayed toward the lead runners while the pack of front-runners thinned out.
Last year's Class 2A state champion Victoria Clinton was next for Kaneland in 12th place (19:49) as she works her way back from a hip injury. Jessica Kucera (28th), Erika Carlson (37th) and Noelle Espino (48th) made up the Knights' top five.
"We just need everyone to be healthy," Bower said.
Perhaps no team was happier with their finish than Rosary coming in fourth, a sizable jump from past years.
"That's awesome," Rosary coach Vic Meade said. "We were calling this our breaking out party because no one is recognizing us. We have a strong core of kids. We wanted to get recognized today. We said 'Let's get out and lay it on the line.'"
Sophomore Madison Ronzone (15th, 20:01), junior Emily Martin (17th) and sophomore Shea Vero (18th) all finished in the top 20 for the Royals.
"They were looking really good first mile," Meade said. "They were able to handle the hill. We're pretty happy."