Cross country: A big night at the Twilight
Glenbard West senior Katelynne Hart was in her customary position at a major girls cross country competition Wednesday night. But Downers Grove South could not dislodge the Naperville North girls from yet another statement victory.
The Mustangs had clawed to within a single point of the three-time defending Class 3A champion Huskies in the coaches' poll.
Maggie Gamboa and Audrey Mendrys epitomize the depth of the Huskies' junior class, however, and the two three-year varsity mainstays were the difference at the Naperville North Twilight Invitational.
Gamboa was fourth in the all-state-stacked field, leading the Huskies past Downers South 56-85.
Hinsdale Central was third at 120 points, ahead of state-ranked Yorkville (135 points), Batavia (137) and Wheaton Warrenville South (190).
"We have been running together for a couple of years, and it is a lot of fun," said Mendrys, No. 13 overall, on the Huskies' junior class. "We all work very well together."
The quality of the field impressed the runners also.
"I think it's really inspiring and pushes me," Gamboa said. "They are all really good girls."
Molly Morton, Jana Dawson and Lucy Westlake enabled Naperville North to escape Downers South, which features returning all-staters Brenna Cohoon and Erin Reidy.
"Anytime we are out there -- not only tonight but throughout the season -- we just want to get out there and (compete against the best)," said Cohoon, who placed ninth.
Hart made news on and off the lighted course in Naperville. Possessor of three straight cross country state championships to augment seven accrued in track and field, Hart remained undefeated with her winning effort in 16 minutes, 26.8 seconds.
"I am going to decide in the next week," Hart said of picking a college. "I wasn't totally happy with the time. I haven't raced in a while."
"It is always (Hart) and whoever is leading the chase pack," WW South junior Sam Poglitsch added.
Poglitsch was fifth. Two sophomores, Chicago Latin Class 2A contender Ava Parekh and Rosary reigning state runner-up Lianna Surtz, were the only two athletes within 10 seconds of Hart, placing second and third.
In the boys race Naperville North was at the top of the individual and team standings.
Jake Allen, a Naperville North senior, broke free from a race-long duel with Neuqua Valley's Nicolas Dovalovsky to claim the top prize in 14:43.9. Dovalovsky finished in 14:54.5.
Naperville Central used a pack mentality to win the team title. Arthur Graham, Nathan Ramachandran, Nicolas Keeling, Patrick Spisak and Brandon Kamp had respective places of Nos. 14, 19, 23, 26 and 28 to author a 110-112 triumph over highly regarded Chicago Jones Prep.
Allen knew where to rank his win among his favorites.
"It definitely was the biggest," Allen said. "It's always nice to get a home win."
Surtz has been an athlete on an individual mission.
The Rosary sophomore followed the best showing by an Illinois runner 11 days ago with a third-place showing as an at-large competitor.
Katrina Schlenker, the Batavia reigning state runner-up in Class 3A, was seventh. The Bulldogs were fifth as a team.
"I definitely love the opportunities this year," said Surtz, who lost only to Hart in Peoria at the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational on the state course at Detweiller Park. "There have been a lot more big races."
"I think the mindset is the same: keep pushing forward," Schlenker said.
Damian Rodriguez was eighth for the Batavia boys, who finished fourth as a team.