Cross country: Kaneland boys, Lakes girls triumph at Belvidere
BELVIDERE -- Kaneland's postseason run continued Saturday.
Led by Austin Adams and Daniel Occhipinti, the Knights qualified for state by winning the Class 2A Belvidere sectional.
After winning their own regional by 65 points, the Knights were pushed hard by Dixon for the team title, but prevailed with 64 points to the Dukes' 71.
Marmion Academy and Burlington Central also qualified, taking fourth and fifth places, respectively.
The top four finishers at the Kaneland regional all advanced with Sycamore taking third place. Only Dixon, which won at Sterling, could break the Kaneland regional stranglehold.
Adams took second overall, 2 spots ahead of his teammate Occhipinti. Anthony Farmer led the way for Burlington Central, finishing third in 15:36.
But Antioch's Charlie Smith outran them all, finishing first in 15:26.9, just 2 seconds ahead of Adams.
"We were really excited to get out here, and hopefully we did enough to take care of business today and get ready for next week," said Adams.
Besides dealing with cold, windy conditions, the runners slogged through patches of mud and snow on the course adjacent to Belvidere High School.
"We knew it was going to be a tough day through the weather and conditions," said Occhipinti. "Just a highly competitive field. We knew what we were going into but I felt good."
Senior Ethan Walker, junior Isaiah Dallal and senior Ethan Neal finished third through fifth, respectively, for the Knights.
Senior Alex Carlson paced Marmion in 16:05 for 11th place. Senior teammate Anthony Zangler took 17th in 16:21.
For Burlington Central, senior Gio Martinez (13th), sophomore Robert Perry (23rd), sophomore Zac Schmidt (61st) and junior Nathan Guy (89th) followed Farmer for the Rockets' top five.
Grayslake Central's Craig Hundley and Hampshire's Aidan Gonzalez advanced as individuals.
Girls race: Defending state champion Brooke Stromsland led Lakes to the team title.
Her time of 17:30 was 45 seconds better than that of second-place Bela Gonzalez of Crystal Lake South. Stromsland came out strong and never let up, running alone for virtually the entire race.
"My goal was to just get out fast," she said. "I felt pretty comfortable the first mile, maybe a little fast, but other than that I just tried to push myself the whole race."
Gonzalez edged out Marian Central's Siobhan Stoll and Grayslake North's Kelli Tosic, both of whom qualified as individuals.
"Pushing through all the mud and snow, that was rough," said Gonzalez. "(The back part of the course) was all water, and my feet burned."
Gonzalez and Mackenzie Aldridge led the Gators to a fourth-place finish and a state berth.
Lakes' 78 points was 12 better than second-place Dixon. Prairie Ridge (third) and Belvidere North (fifth) also advanced.
Olivia Schmidt was Lakes' No. 2 finisher, taking eighth place overall.
Besides Tosic, Kaneland's Rachel Richtman and Wauconda's Jessie Pakaski qualified individually.