Girls cross country: Stevenson, Libertyville's Manetsch take third at Busse
With temperatures in the upper 30's, the Hoffman Estates Class 3A girls cross country sectional provided quite a challenge for Lake County's runners Saturday morning on the 3-mile Busse Woods course.
But when all was said and done, one team and three area individuals conquered their obstacles on their way to the 39th annual high school state meet next Saturday in Peoria. One of the three individuals would become the first girl in her school's history to accomplish the feat.
Barrington and individual champion Jocelyn Long (16:57.8) took home the team title with 86 points while Mid-Suburban League counterpart Prospect placed second with 126 points.
Stevenson was a close third with 132 points as the Patriots earned their third straight trip to the state meet. Fourth-place Cary-Grove (144 points), and fifth-place Palatine (168) earned the final two berths to fabled Detweiller Park. Libertyville (189) placed seventh.
Led by junior Natalie Sorenson's 16th-place finish, Stevenson got the job down followed by the senior trio of Natalie Sparreo in 19th, Isabelle Sparreo in 29th, and Gabriela Jagielo in 34th.
"She (Sorenson) is doing great, she's very disciplined, and she's a very hard worker," said Stevenson coach Maureen LeVanti. "(Isabelle Sparreo) is not 100 percent right now, but she's coming back, and she's on track for a better race at state."
Individually, there was absolutely no denying Libertyville senior Melissa Manetsch her second trip downstate in three years as she captured the second of seven at-large berths with a third-place finish.
But it was senior teammate Nora Tucker that pulled off the real shocker as Tucker earned the seventh and final at-large berth with her 10th-place finish.
Unfortunately, that meant that many runners with great finishes would miss out on state, such as Dundee-Crown's Sylvia Waz (12th), and Lake Zurich's Emily Burns (13th).
"She (Manetsch) looked really good today, she was in good spirits, and she was mentally strong," said Libertyville coach Bill Etnyre. "Going into the race she (Tucker) wanted to finish in the top 20, and she finished strong today."
After reaching state as a sophomore, Manetsch just missed qualifying for state last year.
"It was a really fast race from start to finish, and I'm not used to going out that fast," Manetsch said. "I've learned a lot about what this sport is really about, and it's about finding something more in yourself."
Probably the most inspirational runner of the day had to be Round Lake sophomore Fatima Giron, who became the first runner in school history to qualify for the state meet with an eighth-place finish.
Giron had put together strong performances throughout the season, including a second-place finish under sweltering running conditions early in the season at the Warren Invite. And despite the cold and damp conditions Saturday, she shrugged off everything to earn her rightful place in school history.
"I was a little bit nervous because the girls out here are tough and I knew they were going to be hungry for it," said Giron, who placed third at regionals last weekend. "It's like a dream come true, and I feel I've proved that now that I made it, other people from Round Lake can make it too in the future."
Round Lake coach Kevin Brady was ecstatic following the race, and he knows that the sky is the limit for his top young runner.
"We were pretty pleased with what she did, she kind of did exactly what we wanted her to do, and she's the first Round Lake girl to make it downstate in cross country," said Brady. "It's been really cool to see how much she's improved in one season, and we're hoping she continues on this path and keeps going."
Besides the heartbroken Burns, freshman teammate Hayley Burk (22nd), and Grant junior Eva Cardy (23rd) also missed the cut for state.
"It's one of those years where there was no room for error," said Lake Zurich coach Ian Silverman. "She (Burns) ran a great race, she had a great season, but she's a junior so she'll be back."
Behind senior standout Lauren Katz's fifth-place finish, Vernon Hills took second place at the Kaneland sectional with 78 points to make yet another trip downstate.
Led by freshman Brooke Stromsland's seventh-place run, fourth-place Lakes (162 points) will be joining the Cougars at state.
Grayslake North teammates Kelli Tosic (ninth), and Caroline Riss (13th) earned individual berths to state. Ryan Schofield and Carly Sear placed 14th and 17th respectively for Vernon Hills, which had seven runners in the top 31 places.