Cross country: Morris, Shilgalis finish in front

Alex Morris of Naperville North and Thomas Shilgalis of Naperville Central concluded their regional-championship cross country runs in a fitting environment Saturday morning: the finish line of the Oswego East track.

But before the two seniors turn their attention to another all-state track and field campaign in the spring, there is much unfinished business after a triumphant first leg of the Class 3A cross country state series.

Morris, the top returnee of two-time defending girls state champion Naperville North, led six teammates in the top 10 of the Oswego East regional with a winning time of 17 minutes, 12.9 seconds.

Campbell Petersen, the Naperville North junior transfer from reigning Class 2A state champion Dunlap, was runner-up in 17.52.7.

The Huskies' Maggie Gamboa was third, with freshman Lucy Westlake placing sixth.

Audrey Mendrys' eighth-place result culminated the Huskies' 20-84 triumph over Oswego for an eighth straight regional title for the storied program.

"There was a really big pack of Huskies," Morris said. "It was an opportunity to get better as a team. Everybody was working very well as a team."

Petersen had three top-two Class 2A finishes in cross country and the two longest track distances for Dunlap before relocating to Naperville last summer.

"I am really happy that our team did so well," Petersen said. "I tried to stride down the hills and push off the turns."

Benet (111 points), behind sophomore Emily Spellman, Waubonsie Valley (126), Naperville Central (132) and Neuqua Valley (132) also advanced to the Waubonsie Valley sectional on Saturday.

"I think it was easier this year now that we have more experience," said No. 12 runner Spellman, one of seven returning state qualifiers for Benet.

"I started working my way up to the finish," said Waubonsie Valley junior leader Ashley Heidenrich.

Shilgalis' championship boys time of 15:14.5 propelled Naperville Central to a third-place finish with 95 points.

Neuqua Valley captured its fifth major team title this fall behind runner-up Chris Keeley and third place Michael Madiol.

With its 36-50 margin over Oswego East, the reigning state runner-up Wildcats extended their regional-championship streak to 10.

"It wasn't crazy important (to win)," said Shilgalis, who recently committed to Michigan. "I just wanted to come out and have a fun race. Winning definitely applies to that. I was comfortable fighting the wind."

"I felt like I had a lot left in me," said Keeley, second for Neuqua Valley in 15:23.2. "Shilgalis kind of hung back. (Madiol and I) both led the race at one point."

"We wanted to make sure we were smart about our race," Madiol said.

Michael O'Connor was fifth for Neuqua Valley.

Naperville North edged Waubonsie Valley 115-120 for the fourth and fifth slots to the Warriors' sectional on Saturday.

Tigers seeing clearly at regional

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