Naperville North cross country is No. 4 for girls high school sports dynasties

  • Naperville North's girls cross country team has won four straight team state titles.

    Naperville North's girls cross country team has won four straight team state titles. Daily Herald file photo

  • Naperville North's Judy Pendergast won the 2015 Class 3A state cross country title in record time.

    Naperville North's Judy Pendergast won the 2015 Class 3A state cross country title in record time. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 5/23/2020 9:00 AM

Editor's note: The Daily Herald is counting down the Top 10 boys and girls high school sports dynasties over the past 20 years, two at a time. We continue today at No. 4 with Driscoll football and Naperville North girls cross country.

It's tough to look back on a dynasty still in progress.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Naperville North's girls cross country team certainly won't slow down to reflect, not in the middle of a run of four straight IHSA team state titles.

"It's bigger than a state championship," said Huskies coach Dan Iverson. "The kids that come into our program believe they can be part of something very special."

Nine state titles this century include six since 2012. A testament to the depth in the program, Judy Pendergast stands as the program's lone individual state champion, winning in 2015 in a record time for the state meet.

The Huskies, though, didn't win a team title in 2015. If not for that second-place finish, they'd be riding a streak of six straight titles.

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"It's clearly a team event," Iverson said. "It's great having that dominant first runner but I'd much rather have a dominant fifth runner."

Iverson believes a key element of success is having all levels practice together. The 80th runner pushes to be 79th, the 15th runner tries to break into the final roster of 14, and the eighth runner aims to be one of the seven competitors in the state meet.

By November at Peoria's Detweiller Park, those seven work to finish as high as they can in the top five for team scoring. And for the two runners not in the team's top five, they're hustling to finish ahead of runners from contending teams to push their scores higher.

After each state championship, the Huskies pose for a team picture and every member of the program in attendance gets to be in it. If all 80 runners are in Peoria, they're all in the picture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Each picture is displayed proudly on the walls at Naperville North. One after another.

"The guiding principal of our program is that you're going to be judged less on how you did than what you did to get there," Iverson said. "We live by that."

Twitter: @kevin_schmit

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