Boys cross country: Neuqua Valley stands alone among state's best
PEORIA -- Downers Grove North was searching for its first boys cross country state championship in program history Saturday.
But the Trojans simply did not have the firepower to contend with Neuqua Valley.
The Wildcats made it a clean sweep of the postseason at Detweiller Park with an 83-116 triumph over Downers North.
It was the first state championship in a male sport at the south Naperville school since the Wildcats captured their second cross country title seven years ago.
"We didn't focus on any one team," Neuqua Valley coach Paul Vandersteen said. "I know (the Trojans) are talented. We knew Lyons (Twp.) was very good. We just went out there and ran our own race."
Lake Zurich snared the final team trophy with 186 points.
Jackson Jett, Zach Kinne, Jake McEneaney and Matt Milostan all finished in the top-18 to nullify the brilliance at the top, headlined by individual champion Soren Knudsen of Minooka.
The Wildcats offset any individual limitations with a team-first approach.
"I just knew I had to stick with Zach," said Jett, who posted the Wildcats' best time -- 14 minutes, 33 seconds -- to finish eighth. "The toughest part of the course is the rolling hills around 1.6, 1.7 miles. I almost lost it all there."
"All the hard work we have put in this summer has really paid off," said Kinne, who was No. 14.
McEneaney and Milostan were two positions apart in earning all-state status.
Josh Mollway was the fifth and final scoring member for Neuqua Valley, which also boasted Scott Anderson and Jeremy Hayhurst in its championship lineup.
Downers North, also runner-up three years ago, featured the 12th-place finish of senior stalwart Alec Danner.
West Suburban Silver rivals Lyons Twp. (fourth), Hinsdale Central (sixth) and No. 16 York were also in the field.
Iconic York coach Joe Newton was unable to make a final appearance at the state finals, but the 27-time team champion mentor had two final all-staters in Charlie Kern and Sean McGregor.
Kyle Thompson sandwiched the results of twins Sean and Scott Maison to power the eighth-place Wheaton Warrenville South effort.
In Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour (58 points) was the class of the field despite Grayslake Central brothers Jack and Matt Aho placing 1-2.
St. Francis (15th) had the best showing of the three local programs.
Nick Brouch earned the only all-state nod courtesy of snaring the final medal at No. 25.
"That was the goal going into the meet," Brouch said. "But there's a lot I couldn't control."
"All I know is (Brouch) has run the best he ever has," St. Francis coach Scott Nelson said while waiting to verify the final results.
Hinsdale South and Fenton ended their seasons at Nos. 16 and 21.