Boys cross country: Lake Zurich, Stevenson's Pacernick win NSC crowns
After taking second to rival Mundelein by 20 points last fall, perennial power Lake Zurich wanted to get back to the top of the standings Saturday afternoon at the North Suburban Conference boys cross country meet.
And with a great team effort from top to bottom, the Bears did just that as they captured their 11th NSC championship in 14 years by a 53-68 margin over runner-up Warren.
Stevenson held off Mundelein 85-96 in the stretch run of the 3-mile race at Lake Forest's west campus to take home third place while the host Scouts (118 points) placed fifth.
After missing the NSC meet last year due to injury, Stevenson senior Corey Pacernick won the individual crown in 14:45.7 as he improved his best time ever by 28 seconds.
"It's the first race I've won all season, and I've been thinking about it for a long time," said Pacernick, who pulled away from runner-up Nathan Schmitt of Lake Forest late in the race. "I'm racing a lot of the same guys at regionals and sectionals so this just gives me more confidence that I can race with them again."
Mundelein's Dillon Blake placed third under 66-degree running conditions while the Patriots got strong support from Anthony Rodriguez in fourth place.
"I don't think it's a surprise (that Pacernick won), but I think it's his time, and this was a time to have his breakthrough moment," said Stevenson coach Scott Sommers. "Corey is a competitor, he passed the Lake Forest kid with 250 or 300 meters to go, and if he gets a few steps on you he's hard to catch."
Lake Zurich's push for the title was led by the duo of teammates Jack Gilboy in sixth, and Jacob Myers in seventh while Danny Burns placed 11th for the Bears.
"We had eight all-conference (top 22), and those back-pack guys really crushed it today," said Lake Zurich coach J.B. Hanson, whose team is at the Palatine regional next weekend. "He (Gilboy) just runs tough, you can always count on him to give 100 percent effort, and it was fun to watch the race up front."
Warren's troops were led by the trio of teammates Griffin Pasha (ninth), Luke Wiley (10th), and Hunter Subry (13th).
"This is the first time we've been healthy since we were at the Parkland (Wis.) meet," said Warren coach Bill Dawson. "We had three of our runners pretty close together, and our strength is our top three runners."
In addition to Blake in third place, the Mustangs got an eighth-place finish from Carter Schorr. But overall, Mundelein coach Kurt Ruzt was not happy with the outcome of the always competitive meet.
"We didn't look good today, we didn't engage with the places where we needed to be, and we were behind at the first mile," said Rutz, whose team is at the Lake Forest regional next Saturday. "Blake was OK running under 15 minutes today, but I think he could have been faster than that."
Will Gordon was Libertyville's top runner in fifth place followed by teammate Liam Tucker in 12th place for the Wildcats.
Lake Zurich also got all-conference finishes from Corey Brend in 14th, Adam Cupples in 15th, Patrick Hart in 18th, Aidan Markiewicz in 21st, and Kevin Loftus in 22nd.
Other all-conference runners were Warren's Andrew Metcalf (17th), Warren's John Wiser (19th), and Stevenson's Wesley Park (20th)