Wheaton Warrenville South delivered quite a 1-2 punch Saturday at the St. Charles North Invitational.
Nolan McKenna covered the Leroy Oakes course in 15:01 for his first individual title of the year. Fellow senior Luke Schroer was right behind in second place in 15:13 leading the Tigers to a 56-60 victory over New Trier to best the 23-team field.
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"Nolan came off an illness and is back on track. He feels good. It's a big day for him, he's got a big smile," Tigers coach Greta Havey said. "Schroer is back in the fold. Last year he had a lot of injury issues. He's healthy and he's confident."
Tigers junior Kyle Cepeda moved up from 12th to fifth in the last three-quarter mile.
"Kyle is patient," Havey said. "He knows when to make the move and go. Kyle really made up quite a bit of ground."
David Dillon finished ninth to give the Tigers four of the top nine runners. Now Havey is looking for the rest of her lineup to move up after WW South counted a 39th-place finish for its fifth score.
"We're good through our four," said Havey, whose team took eighth two weeks ago in Peoria.
"We just need to work on our five through seven. All those guys should be there. We're getting there. They are all doing what they are asked to do, now it's having them to have the confidence to transfer out of the training situation. Today was a good confidence-builder. Really proud of them. It's a good win for us today."
Marmion is starting to get healthy and it showed Saturday. The Cadets scored 149 points to take fourth, ahead of fifth-place Naperville Central (163), Batavia (178) in sixth place and St. Charles East (261) in seventh.
"We're definitely proud of it (fourth) considering we haven't had a lot of attention early in the season," said Cadets senior John Graft, who led his team in 15:42 for 15th overall.
"We had a few obstacles we had to overcome. We never ran a race with a full lineup until today. We're proud of it, but there's still a lot of work to do."
Graft is one the runners who has been sidelined along with Ethan Young and Tim Riordan. In his first race back Graft took 13th last week at the Charger Classic.
"The course was really sloppy today especially the second mile through the woods," Graft said. "It was just a big mud pit. We were kind of slipping all over the place. You have to adjust. I think it's more of a mental thing though. You have to prepare yourself to run a little bit slower and focus more on position than time."
Junior Brady Bobbitt followed Graft for Marmion by running a 15:51 for 22nd. Young took 31st in 16:03, Eric Lifka was 34th in 16:05, Riordan 47th in 16:20 and freshman Andrew Lifka 55th in 16:27.
"The pack through the fist mile was really strong," Graft said. "It maybe fell apart at the end of the race. That's something we need to work on because we haven't had a lot of experience (running together). We hope to accomplish bigger things this season."
Mitch Zabka (seventh, 15:28) and Max Rowland (eighth, 15:33) both placed in the top 10 for Batavia and St. Charles East, respectively, while Clay Musial just missed for Burlington Central in 11th, 15:38.
Senior Kevin Davis finished first for host St. Charles North in 19th (15:50).
"We didn't run, we spread out," North Stars Kevin Harrington said. "That's not how we run. All the kids came up to me with their heads down saying sorry coach, that's not how we run. We'll fix it."
Bartlett senior Dan Cotton was pretty pleased with his race after running a 15:26 to place sixth on a course that had standing water in two spots and had become even more slick for the boys after the varsity girls finished.
"The back on every single turn you felt your feet sliding," Cotton said. "Whoever can get around those turns first because there were a few times I hit the people behind me and they hit me and I started swerving like crazy. We went down a hill and there was a little lip and I didn't see it and I almost ate it."
Cotton managed to stay on his feet and finish with one of his best times of the season especially considering the course and conditions.
"All these teams here is exactly what I'm going to see at sectionals and placing No. 6 just gives me a perfect image of where I'm going to be at sectional and now I definitely think I can qualify for state," Cotton said.