Cross country: Batavia girls, St. Charles East boys win at Hampshire
The lure for an athlete to run cross country isn't merely for the enjoyment of running, but also for the freedom of running through tough terrain and facing the elements head on. Saturday's Class 3A Hampshire regional left no doubt to this mystique.
As the runners fought through 40 mph winds and sleet, the Batavia girls cross country team emerged victorious placing five runners in the top 14 scoring 41. St. Charles North, Geneva, St. Charles East, Bartlett and South Elgin rounded out the teams advancing to next weekend's Waubonsie Valley sectional.
Bulldogs freshman Katrina Schlenker won the regional in a time of 17:14. Schlenker was followed by teammates Mia Gianfrancesco (18:06), Jenna Schifferer (18:33), Audrey Pellico (19:04) and Alexa Andrews (19:08).
"I knew it was going to be really windy today, so my plan was to stay with the pack for the first mile and then work my way up," Schlenker said. "The first mile felt good, so I just decided to go out and put some distance between us. Our training has been very good, so I think that's where our confidence comes from as a team."
"I'm coming back from an injury and last week was my first week back," Gianfrancesco said. "My goal was to get top five today and I was able to achieve that goal so it was really nice."
Bulldogs coach Chad Hillman said the weather has a tendency to test the character and strength of a team and he was happy to see how his team stepped up to the challenge.
"It was a character tester when you go through this (weather)," Hillman said. "You have no choice but to be tough and we certainly were. There is only one thing you can control on race day and that's your mental prep and your approach to it. You just forget about everything else, throw the watches away, and beat everybody you can to the finish line. That's what cross country is. Our girls ran tough and really good."
South Elgin freshman Naomi Ruff placed second in a time of 17:34. While the result may have been a surprise to some, but not to Ruff and coach Jorie Bartholomew.
"I tried to keep an open mind today because I really didn't know how it was going to go," Ruff said. "It felt really good. I went out at a good pace and tried to stay with them (top runners) as long as I could. I'm new to cross country and I'm also a swimmer and it's just a weekly test to see how I can do."
"I am amazed by her and her strength to push through this weather," Bartholomew said. "She gets better and better with each race. She is a very humble person, but also sets her sights out and doesn't look back."
Girls advancing to the Aurora Sectional next week as individuals were Elgin's Kasey Moreno, Lindsey Baron and Stella Oury from Hampshire, and Lily Buzani and Caroline Pacer of West Chicago.
St. Charles East won the boys' regional with 23 points placing five runners in the top 8, including second, third and fourth place. Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles North, Hampshire, and West Chicago rounded out the teams advancing to next weekend's Aurora Sectional.
For the regional champion Saints, Aidan King (15:31) placed second, Bennett Melone (15:32) third, and Bob Liking (15:35) fourth, Zack Loomis (15:44) sixth, and Micah Wilson (15:50) eighth as the Saints focused on keeping their pack together as long as they could.
"As a team it's always great to get a win like this," King said. "We knew what we had to do to win. Immediately, we dominated the pack and we never really let that up. I kind of fell off a bit in the second mile, but I was able to work back up in the third mile. Overall, it was a great team race, but we know we have a few more coming up as well."
Saints head coach Chris Bosworth encourages his runners to run in a pack, and they ran it to near perfect form.
"We preach running in a pack mentality every single day," Bosworth said. "People know how St. Charles runs, and then know that when one is in, another is not too far behind. We just take it one week at a time. We have a quality sectional with some quality opponents. We're going to take our pack mentality to the sectional and see how far that gets us."
Geneva's Ryan Kredell won the regional in a time of 15:19. Kredell hung with the leaders for the first mile, but took charge of the race in the second mile and continued increasing his lead to the end.
"I've been trying to take the first mile more conservative lately," Kredell said. "I tried to pick it up the second mile and thin out the pack a little bit. I tried to push as hard as I could the last mile and create separation."
Vikings head coach Bob Thomson thought that Kredell's racing intelligence and experience helped him establish when he should make his move to pull away.
"Ryan did great today," Thomson said. "He's a smart runner. The race isn't won at the beginning and he knows that. He ran his race and he's been in these races before. He ran a great race and this was his week."
Boys advancing to the Aurora Sectional next week as individuals were South Elgin's Ryan Harvey, Bartlett's Luke Jennes and Sam Jennes, Streamwood's Carlos Ramirez, and Emmanuel Lopez from