Grand effort from Glenbard West's Graham
Sophomore Lindsay Graham has gone from East to West, and changed from red-and-black to green-and-white, but the results are still the same.
Last year Graham made all-state, finishing 20th in Class 3A for Glenbard East. She transferred to Glenbard West this year and has picked up right where she left off.
On Saturday, Graham pulled away in the final mile to secure the title in (17:08) leading Glenbard West to the team title with 45 points at the 39th annual Lake Park Harvey Braus Invitational in Roselle.
"I miss East," said Graham of her former school, "but I'm feeling like I belong at West."
And she made her presence felt on a pleasant Saturday morning combining with junior Lisa Luczak (17:33), who finished third, to push the Hilltoppers' attack.
"She has fit in so well with the team," said Glenbard West coach Paul Haas of Graham's transition. "She is not only a quality athlete, but she is a quality person."
St. Charles East junior Torree Scull (17:27) hung tight with Graham the first 2 miles but had no answer to Graham in the final mile in finishing second.
Metea Valley senior Kendall Cast (17:33) was nipped at the finish by Luczak in taking fourth, and St. Charles North senior Ashley England (17:41) took fifth.
Glenbard West was once again without defending Class 3A state champion senior Madeline Perez, but it didn't matter as the Hilltoppers placed five runners in the top 21 spots in dominating the 22-team field.
St. Charles North (114 points) edged Hoffman Estates (115) and Schaumburg (118) for second place, with Downers Grove North (146 points) securing fifth place.
Graham finished third at the Hinsdale Central Invite, and battled Scull neck-and-neck for the first 2 miles on Saturday. But the sophomore shifted gears in the third mile and didn't look back in winning the race with a comfortable 19-second cushion.
"Last week I waited too late to make a move and I just got killed at the end," said Graham. "I knew Torree (Scull) had some speed, so I wanted make some separation earlier this time."
Luczak came on strong at the end to take third, with sophomore Grace Rogers (17:52) following with a seventh-place finish. Junior Megan Ozog (18:10) and freshman Janie Nabholz (18:25) completed the Hilltoppers' scoring by taking 13th and 21st place.
Glenbard West is currently tied for first place with defending Class 3A state champion Naperville North in the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches poll. When Perez returns it will only strengthen the Hilltoppers' attack.
"I thought the kids responded well," said Haas, whose team was also without its No. 5 runner, Christina Sedall. "I was confident we would run well, and we did."
St. Charles North prevailed in a three-way battle for second place. England paced the North Stars' attack by taking fifth place; she was supported by senior Kaylee Wessel (18:24) and sophomore Nina Olshever (18:25), who finished 19th and 20th.
"After the race I knew it was close," said England of the North Stars' team finish. "We wanted to do our best and see what would happen."
St. Charles North built off its title it won last week at the St. Charles East Invite, and the North Stars have put themselves in solid position for the remainder of the season.
"It makes us really confident," said England. "We have a lot of new girls, so right now we're trying to find out what works for us and what doesn't. Obviously what we did this week works for us."
Hoffman Estates was nipping at St. Charles North's heels, finishing in third place. Senior Solome Haile (17:58) edged Downers Grove North sophomore Grace Maletich (17:58) for ninth place.
Sophomore Meagan Biddle (18:19), junior Alondra Aguirre (18:29), and junior Yazmin Nunez (18:35) aided the Hawks' attack by taking 16th, 23rd, and 27th place.
"We've been working together all summer and our team has really bonded well," said Haile. "We battled the whole race. We're focused on not only getting to state but proving ourselves too."
Schaumburg was hanging tight with St. Charles North and Hoffman Estates, thanks to some firepower up front.
Junior Caroline Kurdej (18:02) and junior Ali Gutt (18:09) finished 11th and 12th, followed by freshman Elie O'Connell (18:23) and junior Erin Falsey (18:25), who took 18th and 22nd place.
"As a team we did very well," said Kurdej. "We're looking to use this race as a stepping stone for future races. We are all pushing and pulling each other."
A pair of sophomores powered Downers Grove North to a fifth-place finish, as Maletich and Kaitlyn Bonfield (18:16) finished 10th and 15th.
Cast was big once again for Metea Valley. The Mustangs senior battled the leaders early before leading her team to an eighth-place finish.
"I just tried to use the same strategy and stay with the top group," said Cast who finished fifth at the Hinsdale Central Invite last week. "I am really excited about the start of the season."
Freshman Brooke Wilson (17:54) finished eighth individually in leading Prospect to a ninth-place team finish. Wilson hung near the top early and was able to hold her position.
"I went out a little faster," said Wilson. "I think that helped. I was able to stay connected up front a bit longer."
Scull is off to a fast start with St. Charles East. The Saints junior took second at the St. Charles East Invite last weekend and followed it up with another second-place finish at Lake Park.
Scull hung tight with Graham for the first 2 miles before losing contact in the final mile.
Scull is a two-time state track medalist and is seeking her first state medal in cross country this year. She has been knocking at the door, finishing 29th in Class 3A as a freshman and 31st as a sophomore.
"I want to make it happen," said Scull of her state medal aspirations. "I am happy with the start of this season. Now I just have to keep working hard."
Senior Nicole Alfano (18:15) finished 14th in leading host Lake Park.