Consistency wins out for Glenbrook North's Sandlow at CSL South meet
Alone again, naturally.
Natalie Sandlow's individual title at the Central Suburban League South division girls cross country meet Saturday in Winnetka was much happier, however, than that tear-jerker tune from yesteryear.
The Glenbrook North senior, who improved on three prior top-four CSL finishes, held off an early challenge by Evanston's Hope Leman to win in 18 minutes, 29.73 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of Glenbrook South's Molly Durow at 18:39.79.
"I didn't kick too much, but I guess I did a little bit," said Sandlow, basically unchallenged in four prior dual meets this season.
From Spartans coach Bob LeBlanc, it sounded like Sandlow simply kept on keeping on.
"She ran a very smart race that showed her experience as a senior," LeBlanc said. "She just went out with the leaders and gradually pushed a little bit harder on each turn and gradually they dropped off. By the end, she was the only one left."
Sandlow hadn't had much success in the past against Leman. Not having faced the Evanston senior this season, nor the girls from team champion New Trier, Sandlow wasn't sure what to expect.
The good news, along with the victory, was that she had more left in the tank. That may figure into the Spartans' appearance this Saturday at the Class 3A Loyola regional.
"I honestly felt that I was running pretty hard, but after I finished I probably still had some left in me, and I probably could have gone faster," said Sandlow, who set Glenbrook North's program record of 17:03.52 at the 2018 Class 3A state meet -- right ahead of defending CSL champion Kate Jortberg of Glenbrook South, now at the University of Wisconsin.
"But I'm very happy with my performance and my time because I had a season PR (personal record). I'm proud to be first, especially with some good competition," Sandlow said.
Getting season-best times from Vaidehi Patel and Tess Slowinski as well, Glenbrook North (101 points) placed fourth in the team standings behind New Trier (39), Maine South (60) and Glenbrook South (66).
"I'm really so proud of them," said fifth-year Glenbrook South head coach Meaghan Fastert. "Every single one of them said they wanted to get a certain time and every single one of them beat that time."
Durow, a junior, surged from a secondary pack in the first mile of the 3-mile course at Duke Childs Field to join the front-runners. Running a negative split in the third mile Durow fought off a challenge by New Trier's overall third- and fourth-place finishers, Claire Finnegan (18:40.47) and Sam Fellman (18:42.68).
"Molly's determination in the last 100 (meters) is something that a coach wants to see," Fastert said.
Maggie Jortberg, Kate's sophomore sister, placed fifth overall at 18:45.56. Jackie Millott and Tara Wirtschoreck did some nice tandem running in 17th and 18th place to challenge Maine South in the team standings.
Maine South landed three all-conference runners: Maria Marcucci (sixth, 18:49.24), Olivia DeLuca (seventh, 18:49.58) and Tara Murphy (12th, 19:17.76). Kendall Oslowski was one spot shy of the top 14.
New Trier gave 21-year head coach John Burnside the title by sending all seven of its runners across the finish line within about 63 seconds of each other. His junior varsity won with a perfect score of 15 points.
Following Finnegan and Fellman, the Trevians secured all-conference honors from Olivia Bhote (eighth, 18:53.77), Emma Braband, Colleen Charchut and Jennifer Wiitala. Junior Ally Weix finished in 19th place at 19:42.88.
Considering all these runners have faced, from losing their 2020 track season through the uncertainty that continues today -- a cross country season ending without a state title -- Burnside will argue with anyone who says "this generation isn't resilient," he said.
"For this group to put this together in this backdrop is one of the most impressive performances I've ever seen," Burnside said. "They are the toughest, most amazing kids I've ever coached in 21 years, and I could say the same thing about the second group."