Girls cross country: Drage, FitzPatrick power Barrington to Wheeling championship

  • Runners in the girls race are tightly bunched shortly after the start during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Runners in the girls race are tightly bunched shortly after the start during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Allison Drage is just ahead of teammate Molly FitzPatrick during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. The teammates finished first and second in that respective order.

      Barrington's Allison Drage is just ahead of teammate Molly FitzPatrick during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. The teammates finished first and second in that respective order. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Wheeling's Brenda Torres competes during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Wheeling's Brenda Torres competes during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Schaumburg's Ashlee Jenks competes during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Schaumburg's Ashlee Jenks competes during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Sheila Tucker crosses the finish line during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Libertyville's Sheila Tucker crosses the finish line during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Allison Drage crosses the line for a first-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Barrington's Allison Drage crosses the line for a first-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Brooke Johnston runs toward a third-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Lake Zurich's Brooke Johnston runs toward a third-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Molly FitzPatrick crosses the finish line for a second-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Barrington's Molly FitzPatrick crosses the finish line for a second-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Brooke Johnston crosses the finish line for a third-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday.

      Lake Zurich's Brooke Johnston crosses the finish line for a third-place finish during the Wheeling cross country invite at Heritage Park Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/12/2019 6:35 PM

Barrington's girls cross country team welcomed back a big piece of its puzzle on Saturday at the Wheeling Invitational.

Junior Molly FitzPatrick the defending Mid-Suburban League champion, had not raced since winning the First to the Finish Invitational in early September in Peoria.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

FitzPatrick was sidelined with a left ankle injury, but she returned on Saturday to give the Fillies a nice lift.

Senior Allison Drage and FitzPatrick went 1-2 in powering Barrington to the team title with 27 points at Heritage Park in Wheeling.

Drage, the senior transfer from Cary-Grove, did a nice job in solidifying the top spot in FitzPatrick's absence and she continued to impress on Saturday, cruising to the individual title in 18:16.

FitzPatrick was not too far off pace. She shook off the rust and shadowed Drage the first two miles before crossing the line in 18:25 to secure a second-place finish.

"That was the goal today, just to get in a race before conference meet and see how it felt," said FitzPatrick of her return.

"It was great to have Allison. She pulled me the first two miles, she got away from me in the final mile, but I was just happy to finish and to be able to get out and race again."

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Freshman Sheila Tucker and sophomore Bree Ponchak finished fifth and eighth respectively to help Libertyville hold off Evanston for second place 83-89.

Host Wheeling (104 points) took fourth place followed by Lake Zurich (107 points), which received a big boost thanks to a third-place finish by freshman Brooke Johnston (18:31).

Barrington entered the season with some high expectations and the return of FitzPatrick has put the Fillies back on track for a big finish

"We have been working on closing the gap and I think we did a little bit better job today," said Barrington coach Debbie Revolta of the Fillies' attack on a slow and windy course.

"Under these conditions they did well."

Senior Alyssa Norris (18:52) kept the Fillies' line moving with a fourth-place finish, while junior Morgan Magro (19:59) and sophomore Gabrielle Andrews (20:01) went 9-11 to complete the scoring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's awesome," said Drage of the Fillies' run. "We feel like we are finally all together, I think we felt that in the race today. We are excited to do what we were meant to do this season, which is make an impact."

Tucker (19:08) and Ponchak (19:46) definitely made an impact for Libertyville with a pair of Top 10 finishes.

"I didn't know I would be this fast," said Tucker of her freshman season. "As a team we have gotten better every meet and we are getting stronger."

Junior Annalese Chudy (20:14) aided the Wildcats by taking 15th place.

"We're looking at making bigger strides than last year," added Ponchak of the Wildcats' growth. "Overall we've been grouping together and closing the gap."

Host Wheeling also seems to be making strides this season and freshman Brenda Torres has been a big reason.

Torres (19:35) led the charge for the Wildcats on Saturday, securing seventh place.

Junior Jasmine Bautista (20th place) and senior Lizeth Leon (22nd place) aided the Wildcats' drive with sophomore Brianna Ruiz adding a 25th-place. finish

"I'm feeling pretty good," said Torres of her debut season. "I didn't know what to expect this being my first year. There have been some ups and downs, but I have improved a lot in terms of racing."

Johnston has also made a huge impact for Lake Zurich and the Bears' freshman continued her impressive run on Saturday with a third-place finish in helping LZ to a fifth-place finish.

"Last invite I went out too hard and dropped," said Johnston. "Today I tried staying behind and picking it up in the final mile."

Freshman Hannah Laubach (13th place) and junior Ruby Lucras (22nd place) also helped the Bears.

Antioch sophomore Sarah Benes (10th place) and senior Natalie Svarc (14th place) combined to help power the Sequoits to a seventh-place finish.

Junior Ashlee Jenks gave Schaumburg a lift by securing 12th place.

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