Neuqua Valley takes trophy from York
PEORIA -- Sandburg erased any drama for the final cross country race of the season early at Detweiller Park on Saturday afternoon.
The No. 1-ranked team in the nation had no peers in building an insurmountable lead en route to the 3A boys team championship over runner-up Lyons Twp.
There was, however, an epic struggle for third place between Neuqua Valley and York.
The Wildcats prevailed on a six-score tiebreaker after each team finished with 171 points.
Jackson Jett was well in front of the Dukes' sixth man to give Neuqua Valley its fifth trophy since 2007.
"Last year we missed third place by a point," Neuqua Valley coach Paul Vandersteen said. "I'm just thankful we're on the other side of it. It's like pins and needles every year."
Despite not having a single all-state performer in its lineup, Neuqua Valley showcased its trademark depth and balance to ease past the Dukes.
Scott Anderson was the Wildcats' leader, followed by Matt Milostan, Caleb Ferguson, Jake McEneaney and Aidan Livingston.
"I would say we were running as a pack (early)," Anderson said. "I was trying to catch Jake the whole time. After I did that, it was just get to the finish line as fast as I could."
"I went out pretty fast to stay toward the front," Milostan said.
"It wasn't the greatest day, but we're happy with how it worked out," Ferguson said. "We had to overcome a lot of injuries this year. It's a tough year for Illinois cross country (in terms of the competition)."
The Wildcats lost their top runner, cross country and track all-stater Connor Horn, late in the season.
Charlie Kern was bested only by Buffalo Grove state champion Kevin Salvano to lead York.
"We were all running for each other," the Dukes' sophomore said. "It's super disappointing that we didn't trophy."
Hinsdale Central, Downers South, Downers North, Naperville Central and Wheaton North were ninth through 24th to complete the local teams in the field.
In the Class 2A race Grayslake North fashioned a powerful performance to end the two-year Yorkville reign.
But Yorkville defeated Hinsdale South decisively for the last team trophy.
Wheaton Academy was ninth in the 25-team field; Glenbard South narrowly missed the top 20.
The Warriors' Jonah Jones was equally unfortunate among medal-winners as he missed by two spots, but Jacob Robleski placed 17th to earn all-state.