The heat was on Wednesday afternoon for area boys cross country runners as 14 teams lined up for the Lake County/Art Campbell Invitational at Lakewood Forest Preserve.
When all was said and done, Stevenson senior Sam Oh rolled to first place in 15:29.2, helping the Patriots finish fifth as a team.
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Barrington held off Grayslake Central 64-76 for top team honors under some pretty balmy running conditions on the 3-mile course while Highland Park outdistanced Mundelein by a narrow 106-109 margin for third place.
Some outstanding pack running proved to be the difference for the Broncos as the group of Kyle Monahan (seventh), Alex Maher (eighth), Konrad Eiring (11th) and Andy Gensburg (14th) helped get the job done for first-year Barrington coach Tom Root.
"Our goal was to run as a pack today and we were a bit more strung out than we wanted to be, but we were happy with the effort," said Root, whose team also got a 24th-place finish from Tate Fisher. "It was who we expected to be up there and Andy Gensburg did a good job, so I was happy to see that because he's been hurting."
Grayslake Central saw a great effort from its top trio of sophomore Jack Aho in third, senior Max Brunk in ninth, and senior Suneed Ahmed in 13th. The Rams' top-five pack was rounded out by John Girmscheid (22nd), and Danny Vincent (29th).
"I thought we ran really well, especially for an early-season race -- it was good to get that invitational feel," said Grayslake Central coach Jimmy Centella, whose team placed 17th in Class 2A last year. "He (Aho) came out for track last year and he made state in the 2-mile (3,200 meters), so we knew he had the talent and he decided to do cross country (as opposed to soccer last fall)."
Mundelein's pack was led by Ulysses Hagedorn in 12th, Bryce Richards in 18th, and Mitchell Alberts in 19th.
"Our top trio was exactly where I wanted them to be at the mile," said Mundelein coach Kurt Rutz. "But they kind of split up a little at the 1½-mile mark and they lost focus."
After running a 14:46 in his first meet of the season last Thursday, Oh could not come anywhere near that time Wednesday due to the warm weather. But he was never challenged as the next closest runner finished 15 seconds behind him.
The Patriots also got a 15th-place finish from sophomore Paul Udoni and a 20th from junior Jared Borowsky, who placed third in the North Suburban Conference last year.
"The first mile was very slow and the strategy was to go slow the first mile and close the second and third miles fast," said Oh, who placed fourth in the NSC last year. "We're like a family this year, it's great and we just need to close our gap with our fourth and fifth runners and we can do well as a team."
Stevenson coach Scott Sommers is very optimistic about his squad heading into the new season.
"Sam (Oh) looks great, he had a really good summer, and he knows where his priorities are," Sommers said. "I think we're still learning a lot and we only brought three seniors today out of the 10. Paul (Udoni) is a kid who has totally bought into everything and he's really coming along fast."
Eighth-place team Grant was led by senior Frank Cardy's 10th-place run followed by teammate Jeffrey Brundidge in 28th. Grayslake North's pack was led by Dylan Ponomar in 25th, and Brannan Morris in 31st. Mundelein's Ben Krauss placed 26th while Andrew Maskevich led Round Lake in 36th.
"He (Cardy) ran well and he got out pretty much where he wanted to be and he just kept moving his way up from there," said Grant coach Jeff Durlak. "It was tough conditions for the first time out and our team effort was there today."