Palatine's O'Brien 6th as Pirates take 4th at Detweiller
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PEORIA — Palatine came into the Class 3A girls cross country state meet with dreams of securing a state trophy, but the pursuit turned out be elusive for the Pirates.
Despite the efforts of sophomore Kelly O'Brien, who finished sixth, Palatine came up one place short of its goal. The Pirates placed with 214 points on an ideal Saturday afternoon at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Glenbard West placed four runners in the top 21 in securing the Class 3A state title with 75 points. Defending Class 3A state champion Naperville North took second with 112 points, with New Trier taking third with 173.
Lockport took fifth with 237 points to round out the top five.
New Trier junior Mimi Smith made a surge in the final mile, passing both Hinsdale Central freshman Alexa Haff (16:45) and defending Class 3A champion Madeline Perez (17:03) of Glenbard West to claim the 3A title in 16:43. Jacobs junior Lauren Van Vlierbergen (17:07) and Oak Park-River Forest freshman Mary Blankemeier (17:07) went 4-5.
Buffalo Grove sophomore Kaitlyn Ko was strong from start to finish this season, capping it with a seventh-place finish in 17:14.
Schaumburg freshman Ellie O'Connell didn't blink at her first state meet, securing 13th place in 17:23 and securing a state medal for the Saxons.
Palatine's push for a trophy dissolved when its usual steady pack fell a bit back. O'Brien led the Pirates' charge, followed by junior Amy Kieliszewski (17:55), senior Jessica Lincoln (18:05) and senior Cassidy McPherson (18:13) finishing in 39th, 52nd, and 67th place.
"Very good season, but we just missed from it being a great one," said Palatine coach Joe Parks. "We just didn't execute the middle part of the race."
O'Brien, however, did. The Pirates sophomore came out of nowhere this season to secure a state medal and pace her team.
"Her race was awesome," Parks said. "She was the one girl that ran like we thought she could. To become our top runner and handle all the pressure, she did a tremendous job."
O'Brien positioned herself early and smoothly kept moving.
"I started to believe and I didn't freak out," said O'Brien of her end-of-season run. "That confidence that I gained helped me to keep moving today."
Ko was a force for Buffalo Grove all season. The sophomore used a solid start and then came on strong at the end, holding off Lockport freshman Morgan Bollinger (17:14) to capture eighth place.
"She is just a more confident runner this season," said Buffalo Grove coach Sarah Farrell. "I think she gained confidence as the season went on and finished strong."
"Seventh place is pretty amazing," said Ko, who finished 22nd in Class 3A last season. "I felt really tired in the final mile, but that last 400 meters I was able to push it to the finish."
Schaumburg had its share of setbacks at the last two state meets, but the Saxons came up big with a seventh-place finish on Saturday with 256 points. O'Connell led the charge in securing her first state medal.
"She made a decision to put herself in the race," said Schaumburg coach Jason Beer. "You watch her run and she is such a natural. She just kept moving up during the entire race."
Junior Ali Gutt (17:48) and junior Caroline Kurdej (17:55) kept the line moving for the Saxons by taking 31st and 40th place.
"It was absolutely awesome," said Beers of his team's performance. "That is what we were shooting for and we had a lot of girls step up."
Hoffman Estates senior Solome Haile (18:06) took 55th place to pace the 20th-place Hawks.
Barrington senior Caroline Reynolds (17:45) was in 18th position with just over 30 meters remaining, but the Fillies senior had difficulty finishing, falling twice before the finish line in taking 27th place.
Reynolds was attended to medically after the race, but the senior showed a lot of guts in crossing the line.
"I gave everything I had and I didn't have anything left," said Reynolds of her inspiring finish. "I couldn't ask for a better experience than running for the Barrington team."
Barrington finished 22nd with 501 points.
Rolling Meadow senior Vanessa Sanchez (17:52) capped a strong season by taking 37th place.
Prospect junior Hannah Getschman (18:22) came on strong at the end of the season and took 84th on Saturday.
• St. Viator senior Meghan Carroll (17:55) used a powerful start before falling back a bit the final 2 miles. But she recovered in taking 19th place in Class 2A and earned her second consecutive state medal for the Lions.
Carroll grinded out the middle of the season with a stiff knee, but responded to the challenge of the state meet.
"I wanted to stay with the leaders," said Carroll who was in ninth place at the mile but battled cramps the final 2 miles. "I couldn't stay with them, but I was able to push it at the end. I could feel the pressure at the end, but I was determined to get the medal."
• Freshman Isabella Wolke became Christian Liberty Academy's first state qualifier, and Wolke came up big by taking 43rd place in 18:48.
"I wanted to get out to a good start and maintain my pace at the end," said Wolke who is hoping to lay the foundation for future CLA teams. "It feels great to represent the school."
"It's really good for the program," said CLA coach Brad Wells. "With a school our size any type of accomplishment is a big deal. She ran a great race and peaked at the right time."
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