Girls cross country: Stevenson strides to regional triumph
Minus half of its star sister duo, Stevenson's girls cross country team rose to the challenge in the Class 3A Lake Forest regional on Saturday.
The Patriots' depth was never more evident, as they edged Libertyville 45-47 for the championship at Lake Forest's West Campus, despite running without Isabelle Sparreo. It was Stevenson's second straight regional crown.
Besides the Patriots and Wildcats, the host Scouts (111 points), Highland Park (112), Mundelein (113) and Warren (156) all advanced to the Hoffman Estates sectional meet next Saturday at Busse Woods Grove.
Round Lake had two individual qualifiers, including third-place finisher Fatima Giron.
Stevenson's push for the championship was led by junior newcomer Natalie Sorrenson in fourth, Natalie Sparreo in fifth, and Kendall Roberts in eighth. The Patriots also got a 13th from Gabriela Jagielo and a 15th from Caimin Xi. Isabelle Sparreo will be back in the lineup for the sectional meet.
"They looked good," Stevenson coach Maureen LeVanti said. "We had a few people under the weather, but we're happy with their performance. We had pretty decent times. This course is pretty fast, so in terms of the terrain, they ran pretty well."
As was the case Monday in the North Suburban Conference meet, Libertyville was led by senior Melissa Manetsch (16:57.8), who comfortably won the 3-mile race by 17 seconds over Lake Forest's Brett Chody.
The Wildcats gave Manetsch great support with Jenna Ocheltree (sixth), Nora Tucker (seventh), Maggie Shutts (16th) and Brilynn Dawson (17th).
"We always ramp our training up a little (for regionals), and we were still able to have a good race today," Libertyville coach Bill Etnyre said. "Melissa kind of led the race the whole way. We've got two more weeks to stay healthy and sickness-free."
Led by junior Andrea Cordova's 11th-place finish, Mundelein's senior-less team also put together a solid team effort. The Mustangs were paced by Leslye Rodriguez in 22nd, Jeanelle Jimenez in 24th, Claire Schoenfield in 25th and Clarissa Wienckowski in 31st.
Cordova clocked a personal-best 18:41.
"She has just pushed herself every workout with extra miles, even more than we're asking her to do. I'm just really glad she got her season PR," first-year Mundelein coach Carsyn Rodriguez said. "We've really been working hard on keeping our 1-5 split close, so even though our 1-5 order was a little different today, I was really proud that they kept it together."
Warren earned the final team berth to sectionals behind freshman Taylor Latza (18th), Ashley Kachurik (30th), Hailey Smith (35th), Hannah Arends (36th) and Madison Juenger (37th).
"We were without a couple of our normal top five today, and Ashley was sick today," Warren coach Brett Heimstead said. "Taylor Latza stepped up as our No. 1 runner today. (The girls) really embodied our mantra, which is to work together."
Giron has a good shot at earning one of the seven individual at-large berths to the state meet next week at sectionals. But the Round Lake sophomore will have to put together a great race in the pressure-packed meet.
"She PR'ed by a little bit today so we're really happy," Round Lake coach Kevin Brady said. "We hope next week she'll be able to run with a pack that can push her even farther, and I think she has a shot at state if she can run around 18:30."
Round Lake's Jennifer Martinez qualified for sectionals as an individual.
Stevenson showed even greater depth with Lauren Appell placing 19th. Libertyville teammates Margaret Buchert and Annalese Chudy placed 21st and 23rd, respectively. Stevenson's Michelle Yu placed 28th.