Edge to Libertyville in regional victory
After a close battle at the North Suburban Conference meet last weekend, the stage was set for another close encounter between the host Wildcats and Warren on Saturday afternoon at the Class 3A Libertyville girls cross country regional.
True to form, the Wildcats were able to pull out a 42-50 victory over the Blue Devils to win the regional championship for the second straight year on their 3-mile Adler Park course.
Libertyville advances to a strong field in the Schaumburg sectional next Saturday at Busse Woods along with Warren, third-place finisher Stevenson (77 points), fourth-place Highland Park (79), fifth-place Buffalo Grove (131), and sixth-place Mundelein (179).
Saturday's regional had only eight teams. Due to a teacher's strike Waukegan's squad was not permitted to run.
The individual race for first-place on the hilly course was won by Buffalo Grove junior Kaitlyn Ko in 18:49 while Libertyville freshman Melissa Manetsch placed second in 19:02.
The Wildcats' pack was very strong behind Avryl Johnson in seventh, Kristi Del Prato in eighth, Audrey Paglia in 10th, Hannah Manetsch in 15th, and Sarah Pirih in 16th.
"Our top runner (Melissa) went off course in the first half-mile or so and she went from first to probably 40th so she had to battle back big time," said Libertyville coach Bill Etnyre. "All in all we had probably our best team race to this point. But we're going to have to have everybody's best performance to get out of sectionals, which is the ultimate goal."
Warren's push for second place was led by senior Becky Haight (third), Emily Jahn (fifth), Brooke Wilt (12th), Sammi Jo Nixon (13th), and Michelle Klimt (17th).
"We looked strong like we usually do, we have a couple of gaps we have to tighten up a little bit for the sectional meet," said Warren coach Brett Heimstead, whose team edged Libertyville 89-93 for second place in the NSC. "We race as a team, we pack-run, and that is the strength of what we're doing."
Stevenson got another great effort from junior Jessica Philipp in fourth, and freshman Isabelle Sparreo in ninth.
The Patriots also had a strong group of finishers behind Julide Ozmeral (19th), Sydney Pacernick (22nd), Shea Kirby (23rd), and Jessica Woodard (24th).
Coming off an injury from last track season, Ko was running at 100 percent Saturday and ready to peak soon after placing seventh in the state as a sophomore.
"Next week will be a big race because the sectional is so competitive," said Ko, who placed second at sectionals last year. "It will be a good benchmark heading into state."
Besides Ko's strong finish Saturday, teammate Leksi Opperman added a 25th-place finish for the Bison.
"The goal today was to win and she (Ko) has been working so hard so I'm happy she took first today," said Buffalo Grove coach Sara Farrell. "It would be great to see her win sectionals. I just want to see her stay healthy through the state meet."
Senior Abby Grein led Mundelein in 18th place while senior Lluvia Chavarria was Round Lake's top runner in 20th.
In Class 2A, Lake Forest pulled away from Lakes by a 31-59 margin to capture the championship of the Antioch regional at southern Wisconsin's Fox River Park.
Lakes junior Kortney Schardt was the individual champion with a winning time of 19:17 while senior teammate Danielle Grisbaum captured fifth place.
Third-place Grayslake Central (74), fifth-place Carmel (116), and the host Sequoits (162) all advanced to the Kaneland sectional next Saturday.
Grayslake Central was led by teammates Megan Girmscheid in sixth, and Lura Quandt in seventh.
At the Woodstock regional, Yorkville easily ran to the title with 28 points while Crystal Lake Central (68 points) was able to hold off Vernon Hills (88) for runner-up honors.
Vernon Hills junior Vivian Overbeck (18:51) placed second to Yorkville junior Skyler Bollinger by nine seconds on the 3-mile Emricson Park course.
The Cougars will be heading for the Kaneland sectional next Saturday as they continue to prepare for another trip downstate, where they finished third in state in 2013.