Cross country: Naperville North girls, Neuqua Valley boys repeat in DVC
St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville was the wrong place to look for surprises Friday afternoon.
Naperville North won its fifth consecutive DuPage Valley Conference girls cross conference race, and Neuqua Valley also added to its streak.
Huskies junior Sarah Schmitt won the girls race in 17:20.7. She was followed 13 seconds back by Wheaton Warrenville South seniors Sara Atkins and Allison McGrath, who finished second and third, respectively. The Huskies added to their first-place team finish when sophomore Alexis Morris and junior Hannah Ricci finished fourth and fifth.
"They're a great team," Schmitt said of the Tigers, who placed second with 46 points to the Huskies' 31. "I know both from my past races and they're super-sweet and really great competitors. They were pushing me the entire way.
"And the girl right behind me, her name is Sara too, so just hearing all the cheers for Sarah (or Sara) was really fun."
The Huskies won despite being short-handed.
"We pulled one of the girls out in the middle of the race, then we held another one out shortly before we went to the line, so we really were running only with five," Huskies coach Dan Iverson said. "It's normally not what we do. We wanted to be preventive with a couple of kids, make sure we had them going forward.
"It's not an easy thing to do to think you're going to the line with seven people and then show up with only six and then eventually go down to five. But they really hit the curveball really well. It was a really nice way to wrap up a championship."
Metea Valley took third in the girls race with 78 points, and Neuqua Valley was fourth at 88.
Neuqua Valley senior Jake McEneaney placed first in the boys race in 14:51.0, then turned around and was delighted to see friendly faces following right behind him across the finish line.
Wildcats sophomore Zachary Kinne placed second, senior Jackson Jett was third and senior Matthew Milostan fourth. Metea Valley junior Ralph Papa interrupted the Neuqua Valley parade with his fifth-place finish, but Neuqua's Scott Anderson, Joshua Molloway and Jeremy Hayhurst followed across the line in order, giving the Wildcats seven of the top eight spots.
"It was fantastic to turn around and see three more guys right there, and then three more guys right after that," said McEneaney, who won by eight seconds. "It's always great to see the team just throw down like that. It's a huge confidence boost going into regionals, sectionals and state and hopefully the national series."
The Wildcats boys finished with 16 points, with WW South again second, scoring 70. Naperville North took third with 117 points, and Wheaton North was fourth at 125.
Like the Naperville North girls, the Neuqua Valley boys have big expectations for the coming weeks.
"Obviously, whenever we race we show up to race, we show up to race hard, but there are bigger goals," McEneaney said. "State and nationals, mainly. ... Today more than anything was justkeep testing different racing strategies, keep staying fresh with the legs for racing. We have a big four or five weeks ahead of us."
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