Step 1, get healthy. Step 2, get in shape. Step 3, go compete.
Glenbard South sophomore Diane Lipa managed to complete all three steps for Saturday afternoon's Class 2A Wheaton Academy girls cross country regional at Kress Creek Farms in West Chicago. Lipa toured the course in 18:12.5 to lead the Raiders to the regional championship.
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Glenbard South scored 55 points, Yorkville took second with 63, Rosary was third at 107 and Wheaton Academy fourth with 116.
"I was trying to push it the whole way, but those hills were tough. It was just a matter of hanging in there the whole way," Lipa said.
Yorkville's Skyler Bollinger, fifth at state as a freshman last year, won the regional in 17:35.4.
"She was a ways in front of me, but I could just look at her and keep moving forward and try to keep my pace," Lipa said. "I think I did well. Skyler is amazing, so just that I was able to sort of look at her the whole time was good, and my team did really well."
Lipa is just one of the runners who's been battling illness this fall.
"She was sick a couple days this week, she got sick last week, so the goal is for her to be healthy," Raiders coach Brian Webb said of Lipa. "When she's healthy, she's tough. She ran well. It was nice to see her up there at the front again."
"I've been sick for some weeks," said Lipa, 10th at state last year. "I've had some good races and some bad ones, but hopefully I'll be OK for state and I'll do well there."
Webb said Lipa's fourth-place finish in the 3,200 run at state track last spring "kind of opened her eyes a little bit because she had a really, really solid summer. She looked like she was determined, and when she's healthy, it's pretty special. She's got a lot of talent. It's exciting."
Lipa wasn't the only Raider to finish in the top 10. Rebecca Sippel took sixth in 18:51.3, and Caroline Arlasky was seventh in 19:01.9.
"After Diane the goal is to close up our 2-5 runners," Webb said. "I think we did a pretty nice job of that today. We were keying off of Yorkville, to be honest with you. They're two-time defending state champs. The closer we can be to them, the closer we can be to being a top team."
Montini's Brittany Fisher also overcame illness, placing third in 18:28.7.
"We're all kind of coming off of colds, but we're all getting back in shape," said Fisher, who led the Broncos to sixth place. "Hoping to be good at sectional and stuff. ... Our whole school's been sick."
Still, Fisher felt good about her race.
"That's what I was going for was top five," Fisher said. "I knew Skyler was going to run a really good race. I just wanted to keep her in sight."
Gretchen Pearson was the top finisher for Wheaton Academy, taking ninth in 19:12.9.
Rosary surprised itself with its third-place team finish.
"We're ecstatic about coming back next week," Rosary coach Vic Mead said about the sectional, also to be hosted by Wheaton Academy at Kress Creek Farms. "We've never had a team go to state, so that's our goal. We've just got to run well next week. We actually benefit from a large race like sectionals because our top four are pretty strong. ... This will be history if we can get through next week."
Madison Ronzone earned the Royals' top finish, taking 10th in 19:13.6. Shea Vero was 12th, Emily Martin 13th and Abby Hammer 24th for the Royals.
"She's been running really well," Mead said. "She ran really well at conference. Emily didn't run quite as well today, but Shea Vero came right up and ran terrific, came up with Emily, and then Abby was doing her normal race."
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