Conroy, Barrington take the lead at Wheeling

The Barrington girls cross country team is far from a finished product, but the Fillies are continuing to put the pieces together. The puzzle definitely started to get a little bit more clear on Saturday.

Freshman Lauren Conroy led from start to finish, winning in 18:10 leading Barrington to the team title with 39 points at the Wheeling Invitational on the Allstate Campus in Northbrook.

Barrington dominated the 21-team field with five runners in the top 15, and Conroy cruised to the title with a 16-second cushion over St. Viator junior Meghan Carroll (18:26).

“We’re heading in the right direction and closing the gap,” said Barrington coach Deb Revolta. “I like where we are at, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

St. Ignatius (114 points) took second, followed by New Trier (126), Belvidere North (135), and Libertyville (139).

Libertyville sophomore Kristi Del Prato (18:36) took third individually, followed by Highland Park’s Maddie Dolins (18:42).

Conroy used a strong start to secure the lead, and the Fillies’ frosh never looked back, controlling the race wire-to-wire.

“It’s easier for me to start out fast and get in front of the pack,” said Conroy who has made quite an impression in her first season. “I felt very comfortable.”

She had plenty of help, with senior Rachel Simon (18:46) and junior Caroline Reynolds (18:47) taking fifth and sixth for the Fillies. Senior Rebecca Batliner (19:18) added a 12th-place finish, and junior Camille Blaisdell (19:30) took 15th.

A big key for Barrington’s end of season push will be Batliner. The Fillies senior was an all-state runner as a sophomore and helped Barrington secure seventh place in Class 3A last season.

Batliner is coming back from mono, and the senior is hoping to aid the Fillies’ drive to state this season.

“I’m coming back, but you never know how long it takes,” said Batliner, who also missed her junior track season with a foot injury. “Every obstacle makes you stronger.”

And a healthy Batliner will make the Fillies dangerous.

“She keeps improving,” said Revolta. “The stronger she gets, the stronger we’ll be as a team.”

St. Viator got a lift from Carroll. The junior gave chase to Conroy for the individual title before finishing with an impressive second-place finish. And the Lions needed it, especially with No. 1 runner Hanna Winter (19:58) fighting through an injury and finishing in 25th place.

“I tried to go out hard the first mile and keep up the pace,” said Carroll who led St. Viator to a sixth-place finish. “With Hanna being kind of injured today, I had to lead.”

Libertyville has leaned on Del Prato all season, and the sophomore came through for the Wildcats on Saturday with a third-place finish.

Senior Abigail Toohey (19:46) and freshman Hannah Manetsch (19:59) also gave the Wildcats a lift, finishing in 19th and 25th place.

“I wanted to hang on to the top pack for as long as I could,” said Del Prato. “I know how I need to run now, and I’m comfortable with my pace this year.”

Grant junior Lindsay Lewis (19:01) lifted the Bulldogs with a seventh-place finish.

“I wanted to start off fast and stick with the top group as long as I could,” said Lewis, who is pursuing her first state appearance. “I feel stronger and my times have been dropping.”

Lake Zurich was missing a few key runners, but sophomore Nicole Syverson (19:09) gave the Bears a lift by taking 11th place and helping LZ to an eighth-place finish.

“I found a couple girls to run my pace and went with them,” said Syverson.

Sophomore Danielle Griesbaum (19:38) and freshman Kortney Schardt (19:40) secured 16th and 18th place in pushing Lakes to seventh place.

Freshman Kate Mitchell (19:29) finished 14th pace Huntley to ninth place.

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