Naperville North, Neuqua Valley enjoy DVC race
Neuqua Valley senior Dominic Dina had plenty of company as he ran the DuPage Valley Conference boys cross country race Friday afternoon.
Naperville North's Judy Pendergast made it look like she ran the girls race all by herself at Lake Park's East Campus.
Dina broke out of a pack of his Wildcats teammates and won in 14:54.3, then quickly was followed across the finish line by those teammates. Neuqua Valley swept the top seven spots, scoring a perfect 15 points to win the team championship.
"That was just spectacular," Dina said of the team finish.
The Wildcats stayed close throughout the race, pushing each other toward the finish line.
"We always focus on the team atmosphere and running together," he said of Neuqua Valley's first appearance in the DVC meet since joining the league. "Definitely we all push each other, and it's just a great feeling to be with your teammates throughout the race."
The course made a good impression on Dina as well.
"I absolutely love this course," he said. "The grass is all trimmed nicely and it's one of my personal favorites, for sure."
Pendergast seemed to enjoy the course also.
"I really wanted to focus on the first 2 miles and see how I could finish the third," Pendergast said after finishing in 16:05.5, almost a minute faster the next runner. "It required me going out a little faster than I'm used to, but I just figured I'd take the lead from the beginning and then see how I felt from there. I do a lot of races off of feel rather than pace."
It was something different for Pendergast.
"In high school I've never been someone to race up front until this year," she said. "It's definitely different, but I know that my teammates are there, pushing hard behind me, so that just requires me to push hard too."
She broke the course record of 16:27 set by Lake Park graduate Kaylee Flanagan.
"I'm really pleased," Pendergast said. "It's a PR, so that's nice. I'm more focused on the effort. I'm really proud that I gave a good effort, whether I PR'd or not, I would have been proud of this race and what my team did today."
Naperville North won the team championship with 29 points to second-place WW South's 80.
Wheaton North took second in the boys race with 92 points. Lake Park's Zachary Schwarz was the first non-Neuqua runner to cross the finish line, placing eighth in 15:16.8.
Sara Atkins of WW South took second behind Pendergast in 17:05.0.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz