Boys cross country: Warren, Mundelein's Blake run to titles at Lake Forest
With the temperature at 48 degrees to start the race, there were bound to be fast times Saturday morning in the Class 3A Lake Forest boys cross country regional.
The runners didn't disappoint. Warren (71 points) stormed to the championship of the nine-team meet over runner-up Deerfield (83 points), third-place Libertyville (89), fourth-place Stevenson (91) and fifth-place Mundelein (107).
In a thrilling finish to the 3-mile race on the ground of the East Campus, Mundelein's Dillon Blake (14:36) held off Lake Forest's Nate Schmitt by less than a second for first place as the two runners went step to step until the finish line.
Blake's winning time of 14:36 smashed the course record of 14:44. The top six teams and top-five at-large individuals all advanced to the rugged Hoffman Estates sectional next weekend at Busse Woods.
"I wasn't thrilled about my performance (at the North Suburban Conference meet) last week," said Blake, who placed 12th in Class 3A as a junior. "So I knew I needed to be here for the guys today. It's not about me. It's about the team."
Warren's effort led by Griffen Pasha in seventh, Luke Wiley in 10th, Hunter Subry in 17th, Andrew Metcalf in 18th and John Wiser in 19th.
"We ran much better today than we did last week, and my No. 1 runner (Pasha) ran 35 seconds faster than he did here last week," Warren coach Bill Dawson said. "That pack has been the secret to our success all year. They help push each other."
Libertyville's troops were led by Will Gordon (third), Liam Tucker (eighth) and Ali Faiz (20th).
"I think everyone hit their lifetime PRs today, and the goal is always to improve upon the last race," Libertyville coach Stuart Mendelsohn said. "It was nice that we were able to run here last week at conference, and today four of our top seven runners were freshmen or sophomores."
Stevenson was led by Corey Pacernick in fifth, while Carter Schorr was Mundelein's No. 2 runner in sixth place. Stevenson's Anthony Rodriguez placed ninth.
"We qualified (for sectionals), and that is the most important thing. I'm very happy with our top two runners obviously," Mundelein coach Kurt Rutz said. "It was a great job (by Blake), but I expected it. We had a great workout yesterday and he was fired up. But it's not his best yet. Both of them (Blake and Schorr) are capable of better."
Wheeling's Bryan Martinez (23rd) also reached the sectional meet, while Stevenson teammates Wesley Park (24th) and Tyler Roberts rounded out the top 25.
Lakes took home first place in its own Class 2A regional by toppling second-place Woodstock 63-78.
Grayslake Central (third), Antioch (fourth) and Grayslake North (sixth) also advanced to the Belvidere sectional next Saturday.
Antioch senior Charlie Smith won the 3-mile race in 15:13, while Craig Hundley was Grayslake Central's top runner in third place. RJ Migas led the host Eagles in fifth place.
At the St. Viator regional, St. Francis took home the title with 28 points followed by the host Lions (66) in second, Vernon Hills (81) in third, Fenton (86) in fourth and Carmel Catholic (145) in sixth.
St. Viator's Patric Natindim placed second at the Melas Park, race followed by Fenton's Samuel Elizondo in fourth and St. Viator's Mickey Schumacher in sixth.
Carmel's Alexander Speer held off Vernon Hills' Christian Gitzinger for seventh place.