Cross country: York, Lake Zurich's Johnston shine at Palatine invite

  • Varsity girls runners from Prairie Ridge, Buffalo Grove, York, Prospect, Downers Grove North and others step off to the shot from starter Steve Johnson during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity girls runners from Prairie Ridge, Buffalo Grove, York, Prospect, Downers Grove North and others step off to the shot from starter Steve Johnson during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity girls runners from York, Prospect, Lake Zurich, and Downers Grove North ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity girls runners from York, Prospect, Lake Zurich, and Downers Grove North ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity girls runners from Prospect, Lake Zurich, and Downers Grove North ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity girls runners from Prospect, Lake Zurich, and Downers Grove North ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity girls runners from Cary-Grove, Barrington, Dundee-Crown, and Crystal Lake Central ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity girls runners from Cary-Grove, Barrington, Dundee-Crown, and Crystal Lake Central ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity girls runners from York run during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity girls runners from York run during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Mary Grace Hedberg of St. Viator, right, runs during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Mary Grace Hedberg of St. Viator, right, runs during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Brooke Johnston of Lake Zurich runs during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Brooke Johnston of Lake Zurich runs during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity girls runners from York run during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity girls runners from York run during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Brooke Johnston of Lake Zurich and Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest descend to the finish line as the first two finishers during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Brooke Johnston of Lake Zurich and Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest descend to the finish line as the first two finishers during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Brooke Johnston of Lake Zurich strides across the finish line ahead of Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Brooke Johnston of Lake Zurich strides across the finish line ahead of Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Mary Grace Hedberg of St. Viator finishes the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Mary Grace Hedberg of St. Viator finishes the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Katherine Klimek of York finishes the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Katherine Klimek of York finishes the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity boys runners from Hersey, Marmion, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central and others step off to the shot from starter Kirt Davis during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity boys runners from Hersey, Marmion, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central and others step off to the shot from starter Kirt Davis during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity boys runners from Dundee-Crown ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity boys runners from Dundee-Crown ascend the first hill during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Nick Falk of New Trier leads the pack early during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Nick Falk of New Trier leads the pack early during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Ethan Summer of York begins to smile as he finishes the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Ethan Summer of York begins to smile as he finishes the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Tim Neumann of Downers Grove South, right, sprints along with Ethan Summer of York as they finish the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Tim Neumann of Downers Grove South, right, sprints along with Ethan Summer of York as they finish the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Aidan Simon of Loyola, left, and Mason Krieg of Palatine finish the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Aidan Simon of Loyola, left, and Mason Krieg of Palatine finish the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Varsity boys runners finish the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Varsity boys runners finish the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

  • Anthony Fernandez of Dundee-Crown, center, finishes with Marmion's John Daffenberg, right, during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning.

    Anthony Fernandez of Dundee-Crown, center, finishes with Marmion's John Daffenberg, right, during the Palatine High School Invitational in cross country at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve on Saturday morning. Patrick Kunzer/for the Daily Herald

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/25/2021 4:18 PM

Any local resident heading out to Deer Grove East Forest Preserve in Palatine Saturday morning for a nice, quiet, secluded walk or run were probably in for the shock of their lives.

That's because 61 boys and girls cross country teams had descended on the park for the Palatine Invitational Cross Country Meet of Champions.

 

It was estimated that with the runners (including frosh-soph, sophomore and JV squads in addition to varsity), coaches, officials, volunteers, parents and fans, there were upward of 2,500 people on hand for the invite, enough to incorporate into a small city without batting an eye.

"This is one of the preeminent races in the state of Illinois every year," said Maine South boys coach Greg Nordhal. "We come out here trying to be one of the top five teams. There wasn't a meet last year (due to COVID) but two years ago we took third, and the year before we got fifth.

"If you're one of the top teams at this meet, it's a big statement. Everybody comes here knowing this is the big invitational, and it gives the kids a chance to see how they are before the state meet, running against top competition."

And at this year's meet, the York girls and Lake Zurich junior Brooke Johnston came out on top, while on the boys side, New Trier won the team race while Hinsdale Central was second and York third.

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Johnston, the girls individual winner, crossed the finish line line in a time of 16:53.6, more than 3 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

"This was one of my goals," said Johnston of the victory. "My approach today was to stay back on the first mile, because in Peoria (a previous race) I went out really strong and then I kind of dragged in the last 400. Today, I wanted to stay back and push mile two.

"This is amazing," added the junior. "Two years ago, I didn't think this would be possible."

Katherine Klimek led the York effort with a time of 17: 25.4, good for fourth overall.

"We had a lot of excitement coming in," said Klimek. "It was nice to be out here with all of these great runners, and as a team, were were looking to stay together and run as a pack.

"I was really confident in my team, because I knew we all had strong finishes. I could feel the energy from my teammates and that felt really good."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The top 5 finishers in the girls competition were Johnston, Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest with a time of 16:56.9, Mary Grace Hedberg of Saint Viator (17:19.7), Klimek, and Evelyn Hett of Chicago Jones.

Numbers 6 through 10 were Audra Soderlind from Oswego, Catherine Sommerfeld from Lyons, Rachel Soukup of Prairie Ridge (17:30.2), Brooke Berger of York (17:31.2), and Anna Harden from Hersey (17:31.8).

For the boys, Ethan Summer of York (14:47.3) was third individually, just behind Marcellus Mines of Joliet West and Nick Falk of New Trier.

"I knew this was not going to be an easy run," said Summer, a senior. "There were some tough guys in this race, it was a strong field, but I just knew I belonged."

Tim Neumann of Downers Grove South was fourth overall in 14:48.9, while Ryan Watts of downstate Edwardsville finished fifth.

Adam Simon of Loyola finished sixth, Mason Krieg from host Palatine was seventh in 15:05.5, and Sean Safford of Hersey took eighth with a 15:08.4.

Team-wise for the boys, Palatine was fourth, Lake Zurich fifth, Hersey sixth, Barrington seventh and Downers Grove South eighth.

In the girls race, Assumption was runner-up behind York, with Loyola third, Maine South fourth, Lyons fifth, Downers Grove North sixth and Prospect seventh.

"When you get so many people out like this," said Prairie Ridge coach Kelly MacDonald, "there's just a different energy than other meets. Just the excitement of running with some of the best teams in the state is what it's all about.

"When you look at the girls side here, there were 30 teams and 24 of the teams are ranked, either in Class 2A or 3A. This is definitely one of the top invites in the state."

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