Palatine, Prospect run to divisional titles

The Palatine girls cross country team has had several near-misses this season. The Pirates have finished third at the Hinsdale Central Invite, Richard Springs Invite and Palatine Invite.

On Thursday, the Pirates were out in front.

Palatine won the Mid-Suburban League West Division title with a pair of victories at Deer Grove East.

Palatine defeated Schaumburg 17-40 and added a 19-42 victory over Hoffman Estates. Schaumburg defeated Hoffman Estates 25-30.

Senior Tess Wasowicz (17:38) and junior Jessica Lincoln (17:55) went 1-2 in leading the Pirates.

“Winning the division in our conference is a pretty tough achievement,” said Palatine coach Joe Parks. “If you can win your division, you know you have a pretty good group of kids.”

Wasowicz jumped to the lead and never looked back. The senior wasn’t quite feeling 100 percent but still grinded out the victory.

“We all showed up today,” said Wasowicz, whose team placed six runners in the top 10. “It definitely raises our confidence, especially since we have not won a lot of races. Schaumburg and Hoffman came out ready to fight, and it was a tough battle.”

After Lincoln for the Pirates came junior Cassidy McPherson (18:11) and junior Liz Cox (18:28) in fourth and seventh place.

Sophomore Kara Burton (18:35) and senior Jacqui Paneral (18:47) added to the attack by taking ninth and 10th place.

“We’ve been putting in the work, and we’re just trying to stay strong,” said Lincoln. “This was one of our goals, and it was good to get it done.”

Schaumburg was missing top runner Caroline Kurdej, but sophomore Erin Falsey (18:00) and sophomore Ali Gutt (18:30) took third and eighth place.

“We just wanted to go out and get good position and stay strong,” said Falsey, whose team won Saturday at the Bartlett Invitational. “We’ve been working well together.”

Hoffman is also putting together the pieces and is coming off an impressive victory at the Oak Park-River Forest Invitational last weekend. Junior Solome Haile (18:14) and sophomore Alondra Aquirre (18:26) took fifth and sixth place to power the Hawks.

“I think we’re definitely getting stronger, and I thought we ran tough,” added Haile of the Hawks attack. “As long as we stay competitive we know we are successful.”

Prospect win East: Prospect was missing two of its top runners, including two-time defending Mid-Suburban League champion Brooke Wolfe. But the Knights were still able to nail down the MSL East division title with a pair of victories at the Rolling Meadows triangular.

Prospect defeated Rolling Meadows 19-40, and also defeated Wheeling 21-40 in securing the East title. Host Rolling Meadows defeated Wheeling 21-36.

Senior Lauren Poplawski (18:49) and junior Katrina Leeney (19:37) went 1-2 to power the Knights.

“We looked really good and comfortable today,” said Prospect coach Dave Wurster of the Knights title run. “I think we have the pieces to put it all together.”

Junior Rachel Henk and sophomore Hannah Getschman gave key support for Prospect by taking sixth and seventh place.

Junior Vanessa Sanchez (19:39) took third place in pacing Meadows.

Prospect is coming off a disappointing 10th-place finish at the Palatine Invitational, but Wurster is confident the defending MSL champions can turn things around.

“Every year it’s like, ‘Should we panic or should we be confident?’ ” said Wurster, whose team has had it share of injuries this season. “But I’ve seen the complete picture, and I think we have what it takes to get it done.”

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