Geneva dominates at Eddington Invitational
Sure there were 16 other teams racing at Kaneland's 45th annual Larry Eddington Invitational Saturday, but the way Geneva sent runners into the chute it almost seemed the Vikings were running by themselves.
Geneva placed three of the first seven runners and six of the top 15 to win the invitational going away with 40 points. This year's races were moved to Kaneland High School from the traditional site at Elburn Woods because the Knights also are hosting a Class 2A sectional later this fall.
Belvidere North followed with 83 points, and Crystal Lake Central (115), Benet (116) and Marengo (125) rounded out the top five.
"We're trying to come around," Geneva coach Bob Thomson said. "We're seeing who can do what for us at this time of year."
One of those is freshman Brittany Caskey who placed third last week at the Royal-Cadet invite. With most of Geneva's runners competing in Peoria last week, Saturday marked Caskey's first chance to run as part of the Vikings' top lineup, and she placed 12th in 19:18.
That group included junior McKenzie Altmayer (third, 18:16), sophomore Emma Ehrhardt (fourth, 18:26), senior Brooke Nusser (seventh, 18:57), junior Emma McSpadden (14th, 19:22) and sophomore Mary Grace Neville (15th, 19:26).
"All the kids ran well," Thomson said. "They were disappointed in their times but it is windy out here. It's not a tough course but it's one of those courses that mentally you have to stay focused because you have these long straightaways. You can get lulled a little bit out there."
Nusser missed last week taking the ACT, and with her and Caskey joining the lineup Saturday -- along with some other newcomers still racing in the sophomore meet -- a dangerous Geneva postseason team is starting to take shape.
"They ran really well today," Thomson said. "Really proud of them. McKenzie went out there hard, Emma had a nice race. Emma has been really improved this year. They did a nice job today."
Ehrhardt earned her fourth-place finish by passing five runners in the second half of the race.
"I could tell some of the girls in the front where dying out," Ehrhardt said. "I could see them falling back. I just knew I could surge and catch them. I just knew they went out too fast. I went out relatively slow. I think I ran a smart race."
Rosary placed two runners in the top 10 to take seventh as a team. Junior Madison Ronzone took ninth in 19:02, three seconds ahead of senior teammate Emily Martin.
"I thought she (Ronzone) wasn't quite as crisp as she has been," Rosary coach Vic Meade said. "Emily ran well today. She ran up quite a bit."
Meade said he could see Martin's improvement coming at practice.
"We do a PR mile and she ran a nice flat-out mile the other day which showed me her speed and endurance are coming along," Meade said. "It's good to see that."
Host Kaneland finished eighth with 206 points. The Knights were led by senior Victoria Clinton (18th, 19:29), senior Aislinn Lodwig (30th, 19:55) and junior Brianna Bower (35th, 20:01).
Glenbard East senior Allison Hansen continued her impressive transition to cross country by running an 18:47 to take sixth for the Rams, who also placed sixth as a team.
Hansen played middle hitter on the Glenbard East volleyball her freshman and sophomore years. After having surgery to remove a tumor from her toe last year, Hansen decided to come out for the cross country team.
"It's definitely a surprise," Hansen said of her quick success. "I never thought of myself as a runner but coach came and talked to me and talked me into coming out for it."
Hansen certainly is producing impressive results including a sixth-place finish to start the year at the Fenton Early Bird Invitational and the championship last week at the Royal-Cadet Invite.
"I really enjoy it (cross country)," Hansen said. "It's really rewarding. You can definitely see the impact of your hard work. I think it's a great team sport. Everyone is really supportive of each other."
Two of those are juniors, Olivia Romas who was the Rams' No. 2 on Saturday in 20th place (19:40) and Yoselin Toledo in 34th (20:01).
"Definitely seeing a lot of progress," Hansen said. "We're hoping to keep making strides and pull up some really strong freshmen."
Hansen's 6-foot height paid off at the net all those years playing volleyball. It is not always a help on a cross country course -- especially one as windy as Kaneland's on Saturday.
"I don't think it was my best run today," Hansen said. "Definitely a strong front wind and I'm not the most wind-resistant. There's always room for improvement. I'm definitely not the runner appearance. I think it just comes down to guts and hard work. You just have to be willing to put yourself out there."
Jacobs didn't run its full lineup Saturday. Lauren Van Vlierbergen, fourth in the state Class 3A race last year, rested, and coach Kevin Christian kept his younger runners in the sophomore race.
Christian said he will have his full lineup back next week at Bartlett.
"We kept her (Van Vlierbergen) out," Christian said. "We've been racing a lot, she's been racing a lot. She's got a lot of postseason (goals) this year. We're just taking a week off for her. This was kind of an abridged team today."