Boys cross country: Lake Zurich pulls away to NSC victory
The outcome went down to the wire, but once again it was Lake Zurich that rose to the top of the North Suburban Conference boys cross country standings Monday at Warren.
The Bears' dynasty continued as they won their ninth NSC championship in the past 10 years, this time 44-54 over runner-up Mundelein's determined young squad.
After placing third in Class 3A last fall, the Bears graduated three elite runners who placed 1-2-3 in the 2016 NSC meet.
Despite the meet being postponed Saturday due to heavy rain, thunder and lightning, Lake Zurich had enough depth to raise the first-place trophy with the senior duo of Patrick Burns (third) and Jacob Bieniek (seventh) leading the way on the 3-mile O'Plaine Road campus course.
Stevenson locked up third place by a 91-97 margin over Libertyville, while the host Blue Devils (153 points) placed sixth. Saturday's meet was originally scheduled to be run at the College of Lake County.
The Wildcats got a first-place run from senior standout Alex Tam (14:36.7), who won the race by 13 seconds.
"It was very close, and it took a good last mile to make the difference for us," said Lake Zurich coach J.B. Hanson, whose team is at the powerful Palatine regional on Saturday. "Seven of our 10 runners today were seniors. They've been a really hard working group, and they've shown a lot of passion to accomplish a lot of their goals."
The Bears showed their depth behind freshman Jack Gilboy in 10th, Sean Ginn in 11th, Adam Cupples in 13th, Patrick Hart in 16th and Matt Schwartz in 18th.
Mundelein countered behind its top-five pack of Robert St. Clair (fourth), Dillon Blake (ninth), Aidan Afonso (12th), Michael Parduhn (14th) and Carl Schoenfield (15th).
"Our No. 1 guy (Parduhn) struggled today, but Lake Zurich ran great," said Mundelein coach Kurt Rutz, whose team will run at the Lake Forest regional. "We need to get a little healthier still. We may rest a few guys at regionals just to try to advance (to sectionals)."
Stevenson senior Brett Lucas looked sharp in placing fifth, while teammates Jacob Sparreo (17th) and Tim Green (20th) also made the top-22 cut for the all-conference team. Drake Heisterkamp added a 19th-place run for Lake Zurich, while teammate Kyle Gilboy (22nd) was also all-conference.
Tam's personal-best time was not quite good enough to break the course record, but he is looking great heading into the postseason.
"I felt really good today, and it's nice to have a fast time," said Tam, who placed 40th in Class 3A as a junior. "I'm really excited for the state series."
Max Sauers (21st) made all-conference for the Wildcats, but teammate Will Gordon just missed the cut in 23rd place. Stevenson's Alex Beckerman placed 24th, followed by Libertyville's Nate Sweitzer (25th), Warren's Collin Jones (26th) and Warren's Bryan Holland (27th).
"(Tam) went out and did what he wanted to do -- win -- and his best time this year was a 14:47 at Palatine," said Libertyville coach Stuart Mendelsohn. "So he's right where he needs to be. As long as he improves, he'll get to where he wants to go (all-state)."