The Buffalo Grove boys cross country team got its postseason off to a great start Saturday afternoon at the Libertyville Class 3A regional.
The Bison rolled to first place in the nine-team meet at Adler Memorial Park with 47 points while the host Wildcats nipped Warren 93-95 for runner up honors on the 3-mile course.
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Highland Park outdistanced Stevenson 109-142 for fourth place with both of those squads earning berths to the Schaumburg sectional next Saturday at Busse Woods.
That left one final spot in the sectional meet, and it was Zion-Benton pulling out a 151-152 squeaker over Mundelein for sixth place and a trip to sectionals.
Buffalo Grove's push for the title was very impressive with seven runners in the top 16, including fourth-place finisher Steven Salvano, Tom Cleary (eighth), Jake Wenzel (ninth), Montana Nimerfroh (12th), Tripp Wallner (14th), Eli Hinkle (15th), and freshman Arturo Bautista (16th). Key sophomore Kevin Salvano was held out of the meet to prepare for next weekend.
"Our No. 2 runner (Kevin Salvano) would have probably been in the top five if he ran today," said Steven Salvano, who placed ninth in Class 3A last fall. "Coming off a race like this a positive in that I put myself in a position to win the race -- I just couldn't finish."
The Bison are on course to qualify for another trip downstate with a third-place finish in the Mid-Suburban League and now a regional crown under their belts.
"Our goal today was to tighten up our pack split and our 1-7 split was definitely better today," said Buffalo Grove coach Zack Crandall. "They ran really well, and Jake Wenzel had an especially strong race for us today."
The race to the finish proved to be a great one with Highland Park's Angel Estrada (15:39.80) edging Stevenson junior Sam Oh (15:40.2) for first place. North Suburban Conference champion Pat Humen of Libertyville placed third in 15:48.
"He (Estrada) beat me in the last stretch at the Lake County meet and down this last 100-yard stretch he passed me right at the end," said Oh, who placed fourth in the NSC. "My goal is to be all-state (top 25) this year and I'm going to try to hopefully finish ahead of him (Estrada) if not right behind him (at sectionals)."
After Humen's strong finish in third, Libertyville's pack was paced by Alex Zoellick in19th, Atticus Rush in 21st, Scott Post in 23rd, and Nick Seneczko in 27th.
"It was a really solid pack, and it was a nice race overall with three seniors getting p.r.'s on this course today," said Libertyville assistant coach Ben Zollo. "Next week we think if our top five guys run their best we can get to state. Pat (Humen) is running times that can get him to state and he's running really well."
Sophomore Dustin Macuiba continued to shine for Warren Saturday with temperatures in the low 50's as Macuiba led the Blue Devils' pack in seventh place.
Warren's depth showed through behind Adam Shurson (17th), Jakob Martinez (22nd), Marcus Shamberg (24th), and Will Kellerhals (25th).
"We did OK -- I wanted them a little bit more aggressive at the beginning and they were too tentative," said Warren coach Bill Dawson. "Dustin (Macuiba) was in like 20th place at the mile mark, and it would be interesting to see how he finishes if he went out with the people he finished with."
The Patriots have a great 1-2 punch with Oh and sophomore teammate Jared Borowsky (fifth) leading their pack.
"They just feed off of each other every single practice and meet and they're never too far apart," said Stevenson coach Scott Sommers. "As long as he (Oh) goes out there (at sectionals) and does what he's done all year I don't think he'll have any issues and he should be able to get downstate."
Mundelein did have two at-large individuals qualify for the sectional meet with juniors Bryce Richards in 11th, and Mickey Cardenas in 20th.
Senior Pat Kreis added a 29th-place finish for the Blue Devils while Mundelein's Liam Mellon just missed the cut-off for sectionals in 31st place.