Barrington's boys cross country team has brushed off some early injuries and is now looking to make a move.
The Broncos offered a glimpse of their potential on a pleasant fall morning at the Allstate Campus in Northbrook.
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Placing five runners in the top 25 for 66 points, Barrington cruised to the Wheeling Invitational title in the 20-team field.
"We're coming together at the right time," said Barrington coach Ty Gorman. "Now that we're healthy, it is time to get fit enough so we can be a pack team like we thought we'd be."
Fremd was able to match Barrington with its first four runners, as the Vikings took second with 103 points, followed by Lake Zurich (136 points). Hersey did not run its top varsity group, but the Huskies (158 points) still secured fourth place, followed by Huntley (168 points).
Highland Park senior Angel Estrada took control in the final mile to secure the individual title in 15:33, holding off a strong challenge by St. Viator senior Nick Brey (15:42).
Brey has had a strong season and will be one of the favorites at the East Suburban Catholic Conference meet next weekend. The Lions senior matched Estrada deep into the final mile.
"The key is to keep pushing the second and third mile," said Brey, who has built off a strong junior track season. "It's my senior year and it's been a lot better than I expected so far."
Barrington was slowed by nagging injuries early this season, but the Broncos are making their move.
On Saturday, it was senior Jake Herb (15:53) who pushed the attack for the Broncos and finished third overall. Herb hung tight with lead group and was able to hold off Huntley sophomore Keagan Smith (15:57), Belvidere North sophomore Eryk Yunk (15:58), and Fremd senior Harry Winter (15:58) in the final mile.
"We hope to scare some people the next couple weeks," said Herb of the hard-charging Broncos. "It has been a road we didn't expect, but it's about being a team before racing.
"We've made an effort to be there for each other and it has made a difference."
Barrington was able to keep the line moving with junior Kyle Monahan (16:02) and junior Konrad Eiring (16:10) taking eighth and 12th place. Senior Pitcher Seagrist (16:28) and senior John Foley (16:35) completed the scoring for the Broncos, finishing in 19th and 24th place.
"Our focus is on the pack and to keep moving up together," said Eiring.
Fremd wasn't too far off, pace placing four runners in the top 23. Winter led the charge for the Vikings with senior Nick Vucovich (16:08) and Nick Macius (16:21) in hot pursuit in 11th and 16th place. Senior Dan Johnson (16:35) helped out by finishing 23rd.
"We were able to put quite a few surges in throughout the race," said Fremd coach Darius Sanchez. "Our guys are starting to respond to the training and feel confident. They're starting to believe there is something out there."
Winter has ignited Fremd's attack recently and especially Saturday, as hung tight with the front pack in pacing the Vikings.
Lake Zurich also seems to be hitting its stride. Freshman Matt Pereira (16:07) and senior Will Llanos (16:12) paced the Bears on Saturday, taking 10th and 13th place. Senior Austin Kuehr (16:38) added a 25th-place finish.
Lake Zurich has won six consecutive North Suburban Conference titles and also finished fourth in Class 3A last season. The Bears are hoping to build off Saturday's performance.
"We have high expectations, just like every other year," said Llanos. "We're waiting for that breakout race. We took a good step in the right direction today, but we still have work to do."
Senior Kevin Kovach (16:31) and senior Matt Dini (16:34) finished 21st and 22nd in leading Hersey squad that was without its top runners.
Senior Pat Humen (15:59) secured 7th place in sparking Libertyville (192 points) to a sixth-place finish.
"I paced off the leaders early, and then worked with the second group," Humen said. "The key was getting into a good position early."
Junior Alex Liston (16:18) took 14th place in pacing Maine West, and Lakes senior Jimmy Burchard (16:30) secured 20th place.