Boys cross country: Antioch's Smith, Lake Zurich take titles at Wheeling
Expectations were high for Antioch senior Charlie Smith after a big junior year.
Smith finished fourth in Class 2A at the IHSA boys cross country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria last fall and he finished third in the 1,600 at the Class 3A track and field state meet in May.
But a shin injury in June put a bit of a question mark on the senior run for this fall.
Smith returned to action in early September and the senior has started to erase those doubts.
On Saturday at the Wheeling Invitational the Sequoit standout erased an early deficit and made a surge in the final mile to secure the individual title in 15:34 at Heritage Park in Wheeling.
"It's been a different sort of season," said Smith of his delayed start. "I'm looking to peak at the right time and I'm itching to get back to Detweiller. Today I sat back a while and kind of glided. The second mile felt really smooth and I picked it up a little in third mile."
Smith's big return has definitely been noticed by his coach, Chris Bailey.
"He's a lot further along than I thought he would be and each week he is getting stronger," said Bailey. "He is such a smart runner and always puts himself in position to be there at the end. He knows when to go."
Lake Zurich placed five runners in the top 19 to secure the team title with 65 points, followed by Barrington (75 points), Deerfield (119 points), Hersey (132 points), and Rolling Meadows (164 points).
Junior Jack Gilboy (15:54) took third behind Highland Park junior Jason Polydoris (15:36) to pace Lake Zurich.
"I wanted to stay with the front pack," said Gilboy, who ran up top the entire race. "I wanted to be aggressive and stay motivated."
Junior Jake Myers (16:06) kept the Bears moving by taking eighth place, with senior Corey Brend (16:23), sophomore Danny Burns (16:23), and junior Jack Mason (16:25) sealing the victory by stringing together 17-18-19 position.
"We are getting closer and closer to where we want to be," said Lake Zurich coach JB Hansen. "Mason had his best race, Burns was solid, and Brend made it up in the last mile."
Barrington wasn't too far off with senior Paddy Furlong (16:02) leading the charge with a sixth-place finish.
"I got out pretty aggressive today," said Furlong. "I fed off the top pack and stayed aggressive."
Senior Trevor Giampa (16:06) followed Furlong's lead by securing ninth place with junior Ben DeWeerdt (16:11) and junior Carter Hart (16:32) contributing to a rising Broncos' attack.
"That is what every team is trying to do," said Barrington coach Tom Root of his team that seems to be peaking at the right time.
"Paddy charges to the front every race and sets the tone."
Hersey sat its top three runners including defending Class 3A state champion Josh Methner and all-state runner Max Svienty, but the Huskies were still able to make a bit of noise.
Senior Quinn Rudy, who normally is the Huskies' No. 4 runner, was thrust into a leading role on Saturday and he didn't disappoint.
Rudy (15:58) took fourth to power the Huskies, with Junior Luis Vasquez (16:37) adding a 25th-place finish.
"Definitely felt like a big confidence booster," said Rudy of his run. "I haven't had a fantastic race this year. It was a good opportunity for me today and I didn't waste it."
Junior Stephan Barretto (16:02) and senior Jack Martin (16:07) went 7-10 to power Rolling Meadows to fifth place.
After qualifying for their first state meet last season, the Mustangs got off to a bit of a slow start this season but seem to have found an extra gear the last two weekends.
"We were really out of rhythm to begin the season," said Barretto, "but I feel like the team is finding its form and we are feeling a lot stronger."
Senior Jacob Johnson-Wright added a 21st place finish for RM.
Junior Colton Romig (16:16) and senior Justin Splitt (16:29) went 15-20 to lead Grant to seventh place.
Senior William Gordon (16:11) and junior Liam Tucker (16:15) went 11-13 for Libertyville.
Maine West senior Ray Ure (16:16) secured 14th place for the Warriors.