Boys cross country: Pereira, Lake Zurich muster up a sectional victory
With the girls race finished on an already treacherous course, the running conditions on the 3-mile Busse Woods course were dismal at best Saturday morning at the powerful Class 3A Schaumburg boys cross country sectional.
But not even temperatures at 45 degrees, a driving rain storm and extremely muddy conditions were going to keep Lake Zurich and elite junior Matt Pereira from completing their mission.
The Bears captured the championship in an 18-team field by a close 82-85 score against Prospect, and Lake Zurich will be heading south for the historic 70th Annual IHSA state meet next weekend in Peoria.
Buffalo Grove placed third with 127 points while Hoffman Estates (167), and McHenry (198) won the final two team berths to the state meet. Sixth-place Stevenson (208) just missed out on state along with seventh-place Hersey (211) and eighth-place Warren (217).
Pereira (15:40.47) was able to pull away from Buffalo Grove senior Kevin Salvano for the individual crown while Warren senior Dustin Macuiba captured the first of seven individual at-large berths to state in fourth place.
Lake Zurich junior twins Kyle (fourth) and Brian Griffith (fifth) continued to shine for the Bears on this dreariest of Halloween days for running while teammate Patrick Burns (23rd) helped push the squad to the title.
"It went out pretty slow, and in the last mile was when the race for the finish really began," said Pereira, who placed third in the state as a sophomore. "It (first place) feels amazing because before last week's regional I had never won a postseason race. I'm looking forward to next week a lot and our goal is to trophy (top three) at state."
Lake Zurich coach J.B. Hanson was happy with the narrow win over Prospect and hopeful that the Bears can make a serious bid for a trophy.
"It's always a tough race (at sectionals), we have a really good group of kids, and they've been coming on strong in the end so I'm really proud of them," said Hanson, who has really enjoyed his top junior trio. "They are some of the most talented kids in the state, and they are terrific competitors so they deserve what is coming to them."
Macuiba will be making his third straight trip to state, including an all-state 17th-place performance in 2014.
"Dustin ran just like we expected -- he works hard, and he just ran his plan," said Warren coach Bill Dawson. "We ran well as a group. It would have been nice to run on a course that is perfect, but we all ran on the same conditions."
Besides Macuiba, Stevenson senior Jared Borowsky will also be heading to the state meet after earning an at-large bid with an outstanding eighth-place run. Brett Lucas was the Patriots' No. 2 runner in 35th place.
"He (Borowsky) is a kid who should have made it all year, and he deserves it," said Stevenson coach Scott Sommers. "He looked great, and he handled the conditions well."
Crystal Lake South junior Jonathon Prus came through with a 10th-place finish to earn a trip to Detweiller Park as did Cary-Grove junior Alex Ratkovich in 13th place.
Sophomore Alex Tam was a strong leader for Libertyville in 20th place while senior Uly Hagedorn led Mundelein in 37th place. Warren junior Julian Ruiz placed 39th.
After rolling to the Class 2A Woodstock North sectional title Saturday morning, the Grayslake Central boys cross country team is not a secret anymore.
With individual champion Jack Aho (15:30) leading the way to the crown, the Rams easily toppled runner-up Belvidere North 53-123.
Sixth-place Vernon Hills (166 points) just missed out on a berth to state behind fourth-place Rockford Christian (154), and fifth-place Crystal Lake Central (154).
But the Cougars did have an at-large qualifier reach state with elite junior Shane Williamson taking second place in 15:33.
Besides Jack Aho's first-place finish, the Rams had a strong pack of runners as Matt Aho, Jack Battaglia, John Girmscheid, and Eli Minsky led the state-title contenders push to Peoria.
Hampshire's Jacob Oury also reached state with a 14th-place run.