Cross country: Narayanan, WW South race past field at St. Charles North

The cross country course at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, the site of Saturday's St. Charles North Invitational, is known for its uneven terrain. Wheaton Warrenville South practiced running hills this week to get ready for the meet.

That training paid off. Running together as pack, Tigers' Josiah Narayanan and Aiden Noel and Elgin's Cole Tupper led the boys race at the one-mile mark. The two Wheaton Warrenville South runners pulled away from Tupper on the course's slopes in the second mile.

Narayanan won with a time of 15:18.9 Noel came in second (15:27.6), less than three seconds ahead of Tupper (15:30.5).

"I personally think it was the hills," Narayanan said. "We train on hills a lot and I think that helped us in the race today."

"We work on hills because we see hills at the state meet at Detweiller," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Chris Kuntz said. "We try and do some hill work because it gives the kids confidence when they run on hills."

In addition to the two top spots, Wheaton Warrenville South placed two other runners in the top 10 to win the meet with 40 points. Angelo Ruggio came in seventh (15:53.7) and Jayden Bauer took ninth (16:11.8).

Several Tiger runners are hitting their stride according to Kuntz.

"We were a little bit weak today. Our fourth guy didn't run today, but Angelo Ruggiero, our third kid, is really coming along. He's a senior and he's really starting to click," said the Wheaton Warrenville South coach. "Sam Perdue really stepped up (22nd, 16:34.8). He's been our seventh runner. and Jack Roswick (27th, 16:39.1) ran well. Jayden Bauer our fourth runner today is more a half-miler but he's really starting to come along."

Prairie Ridge's Will Gelon (15:39.3) and Cary-Grove's Jameson Tenopir (15:48.9) rounded out the top five runners.

Led by Austin Brown's sixth-place finish (15:51.0), Metea Valley (82) took home the second-place trophy.

Marmion Academy (95) came in third. John Daffenberg (eighth, 15:59.7) was the top Cadet runner.

Paced by Gelon, Prairie Ridge finished fourth (105).

Host St. Charles North came in fifth (151). Will Stone led the North Stars with his 15th-place finish (16:242).

Girls race:

Lincoln-Way Central freshman Brea Counihan won the girls race with a time of 18:27.7. Coupled with fellow freshman Mia Forystek's fifth place finish (19:37.2), the New Lenox school took top team honors, with 55 points.

"Brea is an incredible freshman. I mean, she was a great junior high runner, and she's carried that over into high school and works incredibly hard," Lincoln Way Central coach Ryan Stapinski said. "She's won I think her third or fourth race this year."

Using her powers of concentration, St. Charles North's Norah Dorrance stayed in second place throughout the race, crossing the finish line in 19.08.0. The North Stars finished fifth as a team (147).

"Well, before the race, my coach (Shari Hayes) and I visualized which parts of the race I enjoyed and which ones I had trouble with mentally. On the parts that I had trouble with, I just really focused. There were cones set out, so I would look at a cone and take a couple quick steps and just stay at a constant speed to get me through those points," Dorrance said. "I really pushed it on parts I enjoyed by because they were fun."

With three runners in the top 11, Metea Valley came in second (60).

"The key to our team is the pack running. Having our one through five runners placing seven through 17 is huge," said Metea Valley coach Eric Andrino. "And (the time) spread (between runners) one through five being under on a minute is even better. "

A strong senior contingent is also important.

"Maya Hall runs with the rest of our seniors, which is the strength of our team and kind of the core of our team.," Andrino said. "Our one through four are all seniors, running together and pushing each other, but she's been obviously a great leader for our program."

Batavia finished third (111). Claire Deppe (19.38.7) was the top Bulldogs runner, coming in seventh.

Paced by Mia Bertolini's third-place finish (19:16.3), Waubonsie Valley took fourth place (140).

Streamwood's Sophia Baumert (19:29.7) took home a fourth-place medal.

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