Boys cross country: Dominant effort from North Suburban champ Lake Zurich
It was another banner day for the Lake Zurich boys cross country team in the North Suburban Conference meet.
The No. 4-ranked Bears dominated their competition by winning their eighth NSC championship in the past nine years, as they posted a stellar score of only 21 points.
The battle for second place on the 3-mile Adler Memorial Park course was a good one with Mundelein's young squad holding off the host Wildcats 75-90. Stevenson (105 points) was close behind in fourth place.
In the newly aligned NSC featuring eight teams, the top 22 individuals earned all-conference status.
Lake Zurich was well-represented on that list. The trio of individual champion Brian Griffith (15:17.9), runner-up Matt Pereira (15:22) and third-place finisher Kyle Griffith (15:31) set the tone for the Bears on the hilly course.
"The grass was a little soggy, but all in all the course conditions were pretty good," said Brian Griffith, who finished second to Pereira in last year's meet. "The team goal is to win the state championship, and I think to do that we will need to get our 1-5 split lower than what it is."
Lake Zurich junior Patrick Burns also had a fantastic finish. He took fifth place, while junior teammate Eric Metzger added a 10th-place run for the Bears. Junior Jacob Bieniek (17th) also earned an all-conference medal for Lake Zurich.
"We looked good. The top guys up front were really smooth, and Burns ran tough," said Lake Zurich coach J.B. Hanson, whose team placed second to Vernon Hills in the 2013 NSC meet. "We've got some improvement to make still. It's just about being right on the right day."
Mundelein continues to emerge as a potential state-meet qualifier. The Mustangs were led by senior Ben Krauss in eighth-place. Their pack also featured the sophomore trio of Robert St. Clair (11th), Alan Salgado (12th) and Michael Parduhn (18th).
"That's the highest we've finished in a long time, and I don't know any Mundelein guy who has run faster on this course than Ben Krauss did today," said Mundelein coach Kurt Rutz. "(St. Clair and Salgado) both ran very solid races, and our No. 4 guy (Parduhn) also ran well. He just wasn't able to close."
Libertyville got an outstanding 1-2 punch from teammates Alex Tam (sixth) and Stephen Richardson (seventh). Wildcats senior Joe Gasick (21st) also made the all-conference team.
"It was a goal of ours to take second or third, and I think if we were healthy we could have taken second," Libertyville coach Stuart Mendelsohn said. "Alex is always very competitive. His goal is to make state, and Steve (Richardson) is not holding anything back. He showed that today."
Stevenson had three all-conference finishers in Nikita Smyrnov (13th), Caleb Oh (20th) and Brett Lucas (22nd).
"Lake Zurich and Mundelein are going to be tough to beat," Stevenson coach Scott Sommers said. "I thought a lot of our guys had a decent race, and they closed well. "Nikita had a good race. It may not have been his best performance, but he has the ability to pick off some more guys."
Warren was led by senior teammates Andrew Miller (14th) and Julian Ruiz (19th). Stevenson senior Paul Udoni just missed the all-conference cutoff in 23rd place.
Lake Zurich's Drake Heisterkamp was 24th, and Libertyville's Nate Sweitzer rounded out the top 25. Sean Ginn of Lake Zurich nipped Mundelein's Dario Carrillo for 26th place.