Batavia doubles its fun at state
Another season of cross country has reached the finish line, and for the second straight year the Batavia programs have made history.
Last year the Batavia boys qualified for the state meet for the first time in school history, doing it in coach Mike DiDomenico's final year as coach.
By taking third place Saturday at the Class 3A St. Charles East sectional the Bulldogs earned a repeat trip to Detweiller Park in Peoria.
The Bulldogs' state-qualifying performance -- all of their runners set PRs -- came a half-hour after the Batavia girls finished fourth to also qualify for state.
It was the first time since 2003 the Batavia girls have made it to state and the first time ever both Batavia programs are going to state in the same year.
"For a team that has never won a conference title, for us to get the guys and the girls to go down, this is huge for the program," Batavia boys coach Bronco Meeks said. "Hopefully we can keep it going."
Batavia's PRs began with senior Ryan Wieties, seventh in 14:59. Meeks said Wieties has a chance to be all-state Saturday.
"I think he's got a shot," Meeks said. "Last year sub-15 to get medal and he was there today. If he can repeat that performance I think he's looking good."
Two more seniors, Patrick Redmond and David Morrison, placed 15th and 17th at the sectional, with juniors Shea Bastian in 28th and Zachary Choffin in 72nd rounding out the top five.
Meeks is impressed with Choffin's hard work to close the gap with Batavia's top four.
"He continues to close it and we're extremely proud of what Zach has done," Meeks said. "He was a guy in the 19 minutes last year. He's improved quite a bit, he's lost about 50 pounds, we're very proud of him."
It's been a memorable fall for Chad Hillman's Batavia girls team with a conference title and state berth. The Bulldogs have run well despite an illness that has affected most of their lineup at some point this fall.
"We've had some kind of bug for the team the last six weeks and each girl has seemed to have it. It's filtered through the whole team," Hillman said. "I don't want that to be an excuse. It's more we did a good job overcoming all that."
Freshman Emma Stephens led Batavia at the sectional as she has all fall.
The only senior in Batavia's lineup, Miranda Rea, continued her recent trend of stepping up in key moments at the sectional.
Rea, the team's sixth runner at the conference meet two weeks ago, moved up to Batavia's No. 2 runner last week at the regional, and she was there again in second Saturday at the sectional taking 19th overall in 17:56.
"She runs very smart," Hillman said. "She's just a really smart racer. Now she's really believing and confident in what she is capable of."
The future looks bright for Batavia, not only at state Saturday but next year when the entire team minus Rea will return.
"As long as everyone understands that just because you have your whole group back you have to still do the work and keep going at it," Hillman said.
Other area Class 3A teams at state Saturday are the Geneva girls and St. Charles East boys -- the Saints making it for the first time since splitting with St. Charles North.
Thomson's teams are no strangers to state, now with six trips in the last seven years. The 2008 and 2009 state champions finished second to Naperville North at Saturday's sectional.
McKenzie Altmayer led Geneva in second place at the sectional. Thomson's team is deep which gives him some choices with the seven runners he will put in the state lineup.
"We'll go through practices and see how it goes," Thomson said. "It's a nice problem to have. We have a solid 12.
"It's hard to use practice (to pick the state team) sometimes because some kids do practice better and some kids are competitors. It's frustrating sometimes when you know somebody can do well and they don't have a good practice. Or they have a great practice and you are thinking they are ready for a meet and that doesn't work out. Sometimes as a coach it's a gut feeling."
Thomson also has a runner in the boys race, Mitchael Deamantopulos who ran a 15:01 to place 11th at the sectional. A soccer player for Geneva in the past who is his first year out for cross country, he's the only senior in the Vikings' lineup.
"'DeMo' is running a lot better," Thomson said. "He's just learning compared to other kids who have run for four years. He's adapting really well."
Mark Sciurba, Jack Rzpecki, Mike Skora, Will Muckian and Mike Gerkin made up the top five for the Saints team that "got the monkey off our back," as coach Chris Bosworth described reaching state.
Marmion missed a trip by 1 spot but will send Brady Bobbitt and Andrew Burroughs as individuals.
West Aurora junior Connor McCue also qualified as an individual while St. Charles North freshman Audrey Ernst and St. Charles East senior Torree Scull qualified for the Class 3A girls state meet.
Class 2A: Already a state champion in track in the 800, Aurora Central Catholic's Karina Liz enters the state meet on the heels of a second-place finish just 5 seconds out of first at the Class 2A Wheaton Academy sectional.
Teammate Abby Fioresi finished fifth at the sectional to help the entire Charger team qualify for state.
Rosary senior Emily Martin and junior Madison Ronzone finished third and seventh, respectively, at the sectional to qualify as individuals, as did Kaneland's Brianna Bower who advanced from the Kaneland's sectional.