Boys cross country: Cool results for Lake Zurich, Mundelein
The weather conditions were chilly, with temperatures below 40 degrees at race time. But the elements seemed to suit many of Lake County's top boys cross country runners Saturday morning at the Class 3A Hoffman Estates sectional.
Hersey was the class of the 18-team field with a winning score of 73 points while runner-up Lake Zurich (117 points) was impressive in earning its 10th straight trip to the high school state meet next weekend in Peoria.
Barrington took third place with 134 points, and fourth-place Mundelein (137 points) had a big breakthrough moment on the 3-mile Busse Woods course as the Mustangs qualified for the state meet as a team for the first time in school history.
Dundee-Crown earned the fifth and final team berth downstate by a narrow 161-165 margin over sixth-place Palatine. Stevenson (189) placed ninth.
Individually, Libertyville senior Alex Tam will be making a return trip to state after placing third, as will Stevenson senior Nikita Smyrnov, who placed ninth.
Lake Zurich's ever-consistent and reliable team effort was led by the senior trio of Patrick Burns in fourth, Jacob Bieniek in 15th and Sean Ginn in 19th. The Bears also got a 30th-place run from freshman Jack Gilboy, and a 60th from senior Drake Heisterkamp.
"Patrick Burns ran a great race today which was great to see, and Jacob Bieniek probably leap-frogged a few teams all by himself," said Lake Zurich coach J.B. Hanson, whose team placed third in Class 3A last year. "Sean Ginn has really come on strong this year, and it's always tough with a lot of congestion (at state), so we're excited to get back there."
Mundelein's historic day featured a fifth place from junior Robert St. Clair, an 18th from sophomore Dillon Blake, and a 26th from junior Michael Parduhn.
"Robert (St. Clair) went from about 13th to fifth in the last half-mile, and Dillon (Blake) did a great job with a strong finish," said Mundelein coach Kurt Rutz. "It's not an easy thing to do (qualify for state), but it's what we've been working for since I took over the program five years ago so it feels good."
The Mustangs also got a 45th from senior Carl Schoenfield, and a 56th from junior Aidan Afonso to punch their ticket downstate.
"It means a lot because no Mundelein team has ever done it so that is what we were gunning for today," St. Clair said. "Our top five runners did well, and the overall effort of our team was pretty good today."
Tam continued to shine with a third-place time of 14:52.7 as he pushes for a coveted all-state (top 25) place next weekend at Detweiller Park.
"I could have run faster, but I'm happy with how I did, and hopefully I'll run better next week," said Tam, who placed 40th in 3A as a junior. "It was rather slippery, but I felt pretty comfortable with some extra layers on."
Libertyville coach Stuart Mendelsohn is pretty optimistic that Tam will come through with another great performance in Peoria.
"He (Tam) had a cold today, but taking third he looked fantastic, and he did exactly what he was supposed to do," Mendelsohn said. "Tam wants to make all-state, I want him to be 100 percent healthy, and I know he wants to p.r. for his last high school race."
After placing second at regionals last weekend, there was no denying Smyrnov a trip to the 72nd Annual state meet this time around.
"He went out hard, and he went out with the leaders," said Stevenson coach Scott Sommers. "He passed four or five guys in the last mile after falling to 13th place in the middle of the race."
At Kaneland, Antioch sophomore Charlie Smith placed sixth in 15:35 to earn one of the seven individual at-large berths to the state meet next Saturday in Peoria.
Vernon Hills junior Jimmy McDonald took eighth place to get downstate while Grayslake Central senior Eli Minsky placed 12th to earn a return trip to Detweiller Park.
Hampshire's team placed second by 6 points to Sycamore to reach state while Crystal Lake South's Jack Becker placed third to qualify.