A sub-20 team score in a seven-flight cross country meet is mighty impressive, and the Naperville North girls squad tallied an 18 at the 30th annual Wheaton North Invitational Saturday at St. James Farm in Warrenville.
But instead of claiming top honors at the "mini-state meet" the Huskies had to settle for second place after New Trier's Mimi Smith won the championship flight in 17:18.5, allowing the Trevians to leapfrog the Huskies and claim a second straight Wheaton North crown with a score of 15.
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Glenbard West finished third at 31 points, while Wisconsin schools Arrowhead and Neenah rounded out the top five at the 33-team event, and Wheaton Warrenville South was a solid sixth (57).
"We ran extremely well. It is what it is," said Naperville North coach Dan Iverson, whose Huskies won two flights and also had two seconds and two thirds. "When you break 20 points here you can't complain. We really didn't have a bad flight."
The Huskies' two titles came from sophomore Ella Guppy in Flight 4 and sophomore Emory Griffin in Flight 6, while sisters Emily Hamilton (Flight 7) and Claire Hamilton (Flight 3) each turned in runner-up finishes. In a loaded top flight, Naperville North's Kate Shannon finished sixth.
"I went out relaxed and then I definitely tried to speed it up in the second half," Huskies freshman Claire Hamilton said after taking second in Flight 3 to New Trier's Molly Schmidt. "This is my first year here, but I love all the girls and we're like a great family."
Guppy, who ran an 18.19 to top the Flight 4 field, said Naperville North entered the meet thinking more about its team's efforts than it's rivalry with Glenbard West.
"We just talked about our team placing well and hopefully having everyone run as close to their best as they can," she said.
The Hilltoppers ran without all-stater Madeline Perez, who was on a college visit, but they still showed off plenty of talent and depth. In the championship flight sophomore Lindsay Graham was fourth in 17:41.5, while teammate Lisa Luczak won Flight 2 with a time of 17:54 and Grace Rogers wasthird in the third flight.
"Everyone went out real fast. I was probably in last place the first 200 meters," said Graham, who was 10th in the state last year as a freshman at Glenbard East before transferring to Glenbard West. "In the forest I moved up to about 15th and by three-quarters of a mile I was in my spot. My legs were a little bit tired and my main deal was to stay in fourth place."
Glenbard West coach Paul Hass said his team ran hard in a dual meet Thursday night and he was happy to see them come out strong again on another warm, humid day Saturday.
"No question I'm really proud of how the girls competed," he said. "It is a tough meet and if you finish in the top 10 in any flight you're doing well and we had all seven (runners) in the top 10 today."
Wheaton Warrenville South was paced by a pair of fourth-place showings, while Tigers freshman Sara Atkins was eighth in the championship flight with a time of 18.12.7. Also in that championship race, Jacobs standout Lauren VanVlierbergen took third and looks ready for another strong postseason.
"The competition was really good and we were able to push each other a lot," said the Jacobs junior, seventh at state last fall. "I felt pretty good and was happy to be up there with everybody. They're all the top runners in the state."
Golden Eagles coach Kevin Christian was satisfied with his team's effort at the big meet.
"Team-wise we were OK," he said. "This meet is high quality and you know, these are a little bit bigger schools than we are used to."
Freshman Kathryn VanVlierbergen had a great start in her Flight 3 race before dropping off some late and placing 19th. Jacobs took 20th in the team standings at 132, and Alexandra Lorenz added a 16th-place finish in Flight 4.
For St. Charles East, junior Torree Scull took eighth in the top flight at 18:25.8, while freshman Hannah Ewald was eighth in Flight 5.
"Today wasn't really one of my best races. I felt really good the first 2 miles but the final mile, I'm not sure, my body just shut down," said Scull, who is recovering from being under the weather recently. "I'm still tired from being sick and I'm just trying to come back."
Scull does like the way the Saints have run together of late.
"We're definitely getting a lot stronger and we're hoping to make it to state as a team," she said.
St. Charles East coach Mike Backer agrees.
"This meet is kind of a who's who of the best teams in the area," he said. "We kind of held our own and now we use this as a springboard to the best part of the season."
The Saints took 18th overall with a score of 122.