Cross country: WW South's Poglitsch tracks down DuKane Conference championship
It's not easy to beat Wheaton Warrenville South junior Samantha Poglitsch on a track, especially in cross country.
So when Poglitsch and Batavia's Katrina Schlenker turned onto the Lake Park track together for the final 300 meters of Saturday morning's DuKane Conference cross country meet, Poglitsch found the strength she needed to pull herself slightly ahead at the finish line.
"I had a thought in my mind," Poglitsch said. "I run track. I run 400s, I run 800s, I even have run a 200. I run the mile. Like, the track is my place. I heard (fifth-place runner) Kaitlyn Nenninger's older sister say to me, come on, Sam Poglitsch, no one beats you on a track.
"And I got on that track -- (WW South coach Rob) Harvey told me to put a smile on my face -- and I just said to myself, like, you can be conference champ, you can be conference champ. And I just repeated it over and over in my head till I finished."
Poglitsch won in 16:51.9, with Schlenker second in 16:53.5. Poglitsch and Lauren Mordini in 2008 are the only Tigers to win conference individual titles.
"It was definitely a close finish, but Sam just pulled away a little bit from me," Schlenker said. "I'm just really glad she won today. That was a really good race for her. She's so sweet."
St. Charles East's Alice Abbott stayed with Poglitsch and Schlenker much of the race, placing third in 17:25.2.
"Katrina Schlenker and Alice Abbott are great, great runners," Harvey said. "Elite, elite, state, you know, nationwide runners, so for (Poglitsch) to be winning that race is a huge step for her."
Batavia won the team championship with 38 points.
"They are a great team and they're starting to come together at the right time," Harvey said of the Bulldogs.
The Tigers took second with 72 points, winning the tiebreaker with St. Charles East on their sixth runners.
"We went out there, we worked our hardest, but we definitely could do better," Poglitsch said of the Tigers' team finish. "We need to figure something out, and we're hoping that will happen by state, but we can do better."
In the boys race, St. Charles East, ranked first in the state in the coaches' poll, edged third-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South, 32-34. The Saints' Bob Liking and Micah Wilson finished 1-2, with Liking winning in 14:38.6.
"We're undefeated, have a really good team this year and we're excited about that," Liking said. "We're doing a good job keeping levelheaded, and that was the key today."
Not that the Saints were impressed by their performance.
"We want to start running our best toward the end of the season when it matters," Saints coach Chris Bosworth said. "Nothing really matters until November. For us this was our off race. We did not look good.
"The guys set a goal and it's a lofty goal. Class 3A is a barnburner. If you don't show up (at state) you can go from winning to not getting a trophy."
The Tigers filled the 3-4-5 spots with seniors Billy Hauenstein, David Zeller and Jared Peaslee.
Batavia placed third with 87 points.