Girls cross country: Warren, Grayslake North's Tosic handle new Harland course
Due to recent flooding on the Fox River Park course in southern Wisconsin, girls cross country runners had to move to a new site Saturday morning for the Pat Harland Invitational hosted by Antioch.
But the challenging 2.91-mile course on the grounds of Lakes Community High School suited Warren well. The Blue Devils took second place behind Prairie Ridge by a 56-63 margin.
Crystal Lake Central outdistanced Grayslake Central in the final mile to take third place, 89-116, while Burlington Central (150 points) edged Grayslake North by one point for fifth place.
The host Sequoits (162 points) placed seventh in the crowded field, despite less-than ideal running conditions with the course still being fairly soft, muddy and slippery.
Grayslake North senior Kelli Tosic won the race in 17:39.9, holding off runner-up Siobhan Stoll of Marian Central by less than two seconds.
Warren was led by sophomore Raina Rice's third-place finish, followed by junior teammate Taylor Latza in eighth and Nicole Harrison in 11th.
"Raina ran a really nice race today, and hopefully we can get ourselves in a position to qualify for the state meet," said Warren coach Brett Heimstead, whose deep team had seven runners in the top 35. "Taylor and Raina have been working really well together, and (Harrison) had her breakout race and ran really well today."
Grayslake Central's young pack was led by the trio of sophomores Grace Kokkin (12th place), Bryn Sato (13th place) and Caroline Kokkin (18th place). The Rams have been solid throughout the 2019 season after placing eighth in Class 2A at the state meet last fall in Peoria.
Antioch sophomore Sarah Benes shined for the hosts, placing seventh in 18:31 to lead her team. The Sequoits also got a strong performance on the cool morning from Katelyn Amodeo, who was their No. 2 runner in 19th place.
"Sarah Benes ran well to take seventh, and to be in the top 10 in this meet I'm excited for her," said Antioch coach Chris Bailey, whose team was without the services of No. 2 runner Natalie Svarc. "(Svarc) is usually 10-20 seconds behind Sarah so she would have been under 19 minutes here today."
Lakes' top varsity team, including defending state champion Brooke Stromsland, headed south on Saturday for the powerful Peoria Invitational at Detweiller Park as the Eagles begin gearing up for the Northern Lake County Conference meet and IHSA state series beginning in two weeks.
"That meet (Peoria invite) will really showcase where we are in terms of the Class 2A landscape," said Lakes coach Keith West, whose team did not have senior Olivia Schmitt running at the Peoria meet this weekend. "Olivia Schmitt is exploring college opportunities this weekend, and I'm just excited for her that she has another college opportunity."
Tosic is coming off a 14th-place finish in the Class 2A state meet last year. She took 35th place at state as a sophomore in 2017.
"She came into this meet with winning as her main goal, and she pulled away in the last 400 meters," said Grayslake North assistant coach Elaina Armata, who helped fill in for coach Anthony DeStephano. "This is great preparation for her, and this is a booster for her to know that she is one of the top competitors in the state."
Warren's Madison Juenger placed 23rd, followed by teammate Mia Pasha rounding out the top 25 runners with the temperature at 55 degrees at race time. Grayslake North's Sophia Barszcz placed 27th to nip Warren's Brooke Sturt in 28th.