Lauryn Simons has seen quite a bit during her four-year run for the Palatine girls cross country team.
As a freshman, Simons was the seventh runner on a Pirates team that ran to a second-place finish in the Class 3A state meet.
Injuries have slowed down Simons' progress the past two years. This year, though, Simons is healthy -- and the Pirates have some fine complements to her, including a pair of freshman that could aid a deep run this postseason.
On Tuesday, Palatine and Simon offered a glimpse of their potential by holding off a stiff challenge from rival Fremd to earn a 26-31 Mid-Suburban League West victory at the Vikings' home course on the Harper College campus.
"We are really excited," said Simon, who was part of the Pirates' most recent MSL championship team in 2014. "We want to keep growing throughout the season."
Fremd sophomore Marissa Ban has the Vikings pretty excited, too. She ran to the individual victory, crossing the line in 18:50.
Next came up-and-coming Palatine freshman Anne Marie Jordan (18:56), who took second.
Fremd senior Nupur Pokharkar (18:59) answered for the Vikings by taking third, ahead of Palatine junior Liz Lechowicz (19:06) and Simons (19:09).
Another rising Vikings sophomore, Rebecca Markham (19:16), helped keep thing close by taking sixth place.
The Pirates then closed the door on the victory with junior Kate Lechowicz (19:22), freshman Ellie Roy (19:34), and sophomore Christina Buckstaff (19:37) securing 7-8-9.
"It was a big battle today, that is for sure," said Palatine coach Joe Parks. "It was the first time running all our pieces together, and the first time to see them all together. But we definitely have work to do."
The freshmen runners have given the Pirates a nice jolt, and Jordan definitely showed on Tuesday she will be a factor.
"We have a good chance of doing well," said Jordan, "and we all run for each other."
Marissa Ban has had the same affect on the Vikings' group that ran to an impressive 10th-place finish at the First to the Finish Invitational last Saturday in Peoria.
On Tuesday, Ban was part of a lineup that matched the Pirates' top four runners in the first 2 miles.
"It's exciting to see the improvement, not only for me, but everybody on the team," said Ban, who was the Vikings' top runner in Peoria. "We seem to be getting better every week."
Pokharkar and Markham are playing key roles in the Vikings' climb.
"We've had some injuries and illnesses," said Fremd coach Joe Marcin. "But the girls competed very well today."