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updated: 10/16/2017 10:43 PM

Cross country: Glenbard West makes it seven straight in Silver

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By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent

When it comes to West Suburban Conference Silver Division girls cross country, there's actually something more consistent than Glenbard West sophomore Katelynne Hart and senior Lindsey Payne.

It's the Hilltoppers as a team.

With Hart and Payne finishing 1-2 for the second year in a row, the Hilltoppers came away champions for the seventh straight year Monday at Lyons Township. The meet was rescheduled and moved from Katherine Legge Memorial Park because of Saturday's heavy rains.

"It's such a special thing, our team being able to come together on this one day, (for me) four years in a row, to do it," Payne said. "State, regionals, sectionals and invitationals, they're all cool to win, but conference is just special because we're running for everybody on our team."

Glenbard West edged Hinsdale Central 43-48 with Hart's 16:49.3 and Payne's 17:23.5 controlling the race from the outset. Fifth-place Glenbard West junior Katie Hohe in 17:54.4 also earned all-conference honors with a top-16 finish, and junior Chloe Connolly and senior Claire Kenwood were 17th and 18th.

In 2016 Hart and Payne finished 1-2 at Class 3A state after last year's Silver meet also at Lyons Twp.

Hart is the ninth girls runner to capture multiple conference titles. No one has won it four times.

"The conference is so competitive. It means a lot when your competition is so amazing," Hart said. "(This year's victory was) kind of weird because it's the same course. It was kind of crazy going to school today and to mentally prepare yourself to run conference."

Payne is the fourth four-time Glenbard West all-conference runner but the first with four top-five finishes -- the 2015 title and three second places.

"It shows that my hard work paid off," Payne said. "I'm really thankful, more than anything, that I've been able to stay healthy these four years."

Since the start of WSC girls cross country in 1977, the only longer streak of won or shared titles is Downers Grove North's eight from 1977-1984. Monday's racing format went from being top-seven varsity only to 15 entries per team but with a declared varsity seven.

"It was kind of like coaching through texting (this weekend)," said Glenbard West coach Paul Hass about the numerous schedule changes.

"Every team dealt with this situation and (our athletes) really handled it well, came in really focused. It was truly a team effort. Claire really stepped up big to finish right behind Chloe. Up front what Katelynne and Lindsey do for us (is important) and I thought Katie ran a really smart race. Three in the top five in this conference is very impressive."

York was fourth with three all-conference runners -- junior Sarah May ninth, sophomore Emma Kern 11th and senior Katherine Tomaska 16th.

May, fifth in 2016, earned her third top-10 Silver finish.  

"I had a good first half and I felt really strong, but then I fell back and I don't really know why. I know I can stay with the front group," May said.

By 0.4 seconds Tomaska pulled out the last all-conference spot and her first varsity all-conference honors.

"I had a feeling I was somewhere in the top 20 but I really had no idea," said Tomaska, 19th in 2016. "It's senior year so it's my last conference. I definitely wanted to make that count."

Hinsdale Central's top-five finishers were 3-4-7-12-22 with sophomore McKenna Revord, seniors Reilly Revord and Grace McCabe and sophomore Lucy Fischer all-conference. Reilly Revord and McCabe are the first four-time all-conference runners in program history.

Downers Grove North sophomore Ellie Gross was an all-conference 14th, improving from 32nd as a freshman.

In the boys Silver meet, Glenbard West senior Rory Cavan and York senior Tim Stevenson enjoyed much better fortunes for the final Silver meets.

Both were varsity all-conference for the first time by joining repeat senior teammates in Glenbard West's Stephen Moody and York's Sean MacGregor.

MacGregor, Moody and Cavan were sixth, seventh and eighth and Stevenson 15th.

Last year the Silver meet were breakthroughs for MacGregor and Moody as they finished sixth and ninth, respectively. Cavan ended up 23rd.

"(Last year) I fell down in the beginning and kind of had to work myself back into it. I ran the best race I could despite the circumstances so it was nice to stay on my feet this year," Cavan said. "I definitely felt like I was right in the front. The pack kind of got up to me and I started hanging onto the back a little bit at the end."

York edged Glenbard West for fourth 88-90. Top-ranked Downers Grove North won its second straight conference title and fourth in program history with 34 points and Lyons Township edged Hinsdale Central 74-75 for second.

Stevenson was injured most of last season but returned for the 2016 conference meet taking 28th in the junior varsity race after all-conference finishes on the freshman and sophomore levels.

"It's for sure nice to be back and getting all-conference again. It felt a little uncomfortable (running) after the school day and everything as opposed to a Saturday morning, but I'm just happy to be out here running."

Downers North had six all-conference runners with senior Jacob Ridderhoff second in 15:04.0, junior Jack Roberts fourth in 16:09.4, senior Nick Chudzik sixth in 15:16.5 and seniors Ryan Birkmeier, Sam McCool and Miles Christensen 10th, 12th and 14th.

Hinsdale Central senior Colin Yandel improved to third in 15:08.2 from 16th in the 2016 JV race. Senior Sean O'Connell achieved all-conference again by taking 11th.

Lyons Township senior and state title contender Danny Kilrea won for the second year in a row in 14:41.7.

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