Palatine has taken some shots this season, but the Pirates delivered a big one of their own Thursday at the Hoffman Estates triangular.
Junior Graham Brown and senior Argeni Bailon went 1-2 helping Palatine to a pair of Mid-Suburban West boys cross country victories at Barrington Pond.
Palatine defeated host Hoffman Estates 19-40 and also beat Schaumburg 15-50 in clinching its 12th consecutive MSL West title.
The two victories also gave the Pirates its 73rd and 74th straight dual meet victory, and they now hold the fourth longest streak in Illinois history.
"Everyone has been after us this year," said Palatine coach Chris Quick of the Pirates' reign atop the West. "We haven't been as good as we have been in the last five or six years, so everyone has been taking their shots."
But the Pirates have had the answer, and Brown (15:48) and Bailon (15:57) set the tone for the Pirates on Thursday.
"Every season has its challenges, and we have had ours earlier this year," said Brown. "But I think we are starting to put it together."
Senior Dean Kolar (16:27) and senior Emil Kozakiewicz (16:28) gave Palatine a lift by finishing fourth and fifth, with senior Adam Brauer (16:33) adding a seventh-place finish.
Brown took command of the race early on his way to the individual title. The Pirates junior finished 23rd at the Palatine Invite last weekend but looked more comfortable on Thursday.
"I just wanted to relax the first mile," said Brown. "I wanted to get the momentum and Argeni really helped me with that. Racing with the team is so much better, and we all worked together today."
Hoffman Estates was without its No. 1 runner, senior Billy Thomas, who missed his second consecutive dual meet. But sophomore Bryan Gamboa (16:22) stepped up in taking third leading the Hawks to a 15-50 victory over Schaumburg.
Thomas is scheduled to run this weekend in Peoria.
"It felt pretty good -- I went hard in the first mile," said Gamboa, who emerged as a solid No. 2 runner for the Hawks. "We are looking to narrow the gap and I thought we made some improvement today."
Sophomore Shiv Patel (16:33) took sixth place for the Hoffman, followed by sophomore Matt Petersen (16:41) and junior Thomas Simac (16:42) in ninth and 10th.
"The team ran really well today, especially the top four," said Hoffman Estates coach Brenden Mariano. "We plug Billy (Thomas) back in and there is no reason for us not to be excited about what we could do in the future."
Junior AJ Vitter (18:45) finished 22nd finishing as Schaumburg's top runner.