Both Hersey's boys cross country team and Conant junior Zach Dale kept rolling at the Class 3A Hoffman Estates regional Saturday at Busse Woods.
Hersey, ranked No. 3 in the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Poll, secured its first Mid-Suburban League since 1972 last week, and the Huskies did not slow down on Saturday snaring the regional title with 41 points easily outdistancing second-place Fremd (81).
"We think we have the deepest team in state," said Hersey coach Jay Renaud, whose team placed seven runners in the top 17 on Saturday. "The key to our success this year has been our three through seven runners. We were just trying to get in and win."
Dale, who was coming off an MSL individual title, continued to impress on Saturday. The Cougars junior broke away midway through the race in securing the title in 15:06.
Hoffman Estates senior Billy Thomas (15:29) kept it close through the first mile and a half on his way to taking second place.
"I got a little bit nervous," said Dale of the early pace. "I thought we were slowing down and I didn't want to have something left at the end. I was just trying to push it."
Conant (87 points), Prospect (92) and Hoffman Estates (99) went third through fifth in qualifying for Saturday's Schaumburg sectional.
Wheeling and Elk Grove tied for the sixth and final qualifying spot, with both teams advancing.
Senior Andy Philipose (15:36) and junior David Rodriguez (15:40) were third and fifth in setting the tone for Hersey.
They were followed by junior Grant Von Der Lippe (15:51), junior Kevin Ziegenhorn (15:53) and senior Eric DeLoera (15:56) in completing the Huskies' scoring with a solid 20-second split.
Senior Matt Stadnicki (15:59) and senior Jack O'Neil (16:04) secured 15th and 17th place for Hersey.
"It was fun," said Philipose of the Huskies' victory. "We wanted to pack up and keep the groups together. All the hard work is starting to show now."
Senior Harry Winter (15:38) and senior Nick Vucovich (15:41) were fourth and sixth to lead Fremd to second place.
Senior Nick Macius (15:59) added 14th place and senior Danny Johnson (16:17) chipped in with a 24th-place finish, as the Vikings held off Conant and Prospect.
"It definitely gave us some confidence today," said Winter whose team will be battling for the fifth and final qualifying spot for state at next week's sectional. "We know to get there we have to narrow the gap between our first five runners, and we're getting there."
Conant, Prospect and Hoffman Estates are closing hard and have put themselves in position for a state qualifying spot.
Dale paced Conant while juniors Shujaat Sultan (15:52) and James Janczy (16:08) also gave the Cougars a lift finishing in the 10th and 20th place spots.
Prospect senior Blake Hallman (15:44) led the Knights' attack by taking seventh. He was followed by junior Mike Anderson (15:54), senior Max Daleiden (16:05) and senior Ben Pederson (16:13), who were 12th, 19th and 22nd, respectively.
"Our main goal today was to get to sectionals," said Hallman. "We're taking it one step at a time. If we run our race I feel we have good shot at getting to state."
Thomas powered Hoffman Estates as the senior continues to climb back after a midseason injury scare. The Hawks senior took another step forward on Saturday. Sophomore Bryan Gamboa (15:49) and sophomore Shiv Patel (16:13) aided the Hawks' attack with an eighth and 21st-place finish.
"I feel like I'm improving every race," said Thomas. "I wanted to get out hard and see how long I could take it."
Rolling Meadows junior Tim Howley (16:02) finished 16th and was the top individual qualifier.