Harvest Christian proving to be good host for cross country teams

  • The start of the varsity girls  cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      The start of the varsity girls cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • IC's Carly Manchester took first place during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      IC's Carly Manchester took first place during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Francis' Ava Swiatek during cross country at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      St. Francis' Ava Swiatek during cross country at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Francis' Lean Ringsrud edges out Montini's Katherine Gertsen during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      St. Francis' Lean Ringsrud edges out Montini's Katherine Gertsen during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Eva Camp during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Eva Camp during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • IC's Kennedy Calcagno, left, and Carly Manchester at the start of the varsity girls  cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      IC's Kennedy Calcagno, left, and Carly Manchester at the start of the varsity girls cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The start of the varsity girls  cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      The start of the varsity girls cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • IC's Kennedy Calcagno during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      IC's Kennedy Calcagno during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • IC's Carly Manchester took first place during girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      IC's Carly Manchester took first place during girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • IC's Kennedy Calcagno during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      IC's Kennedy Calcagno during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • IC's Frankie Chaiclez during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      IC's Frankie Chaiclez during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Francis' Alyssa Falco during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      St. Francis' Alyssa Falco during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • IC's Alia Johnson edges out Montini's Heather Sledzinger, during cross country at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      IC's Alia Johnson edges out Montini's Heather Sledzinger, during cross country at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Edward's Mia Castro during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      St. Edward's Mia Castro during the girls varsity cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The start of the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      The start of the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Daniel Winkleman, left, and ACC's Max Meyers, during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Daniel Winkleman, left, and ACC's Max Meyers, during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Daniel Winkleman, during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Daniel Winkleman, during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Matthew Olech heads to the finish and first place during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Matthew Olech heads to the finish and first place during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Matthew Olech heads to the finish and first place during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Matthew Olech heads to the finish and first place during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Hayden Colclasure, front, and Daniel Winkleman, during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Hayden Colclasure, front, and Daniel Winkleman, during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The start of the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      The start of the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Francis' Luke Orwig during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      St. Francis' Luke Orwig during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Montini's Nick Fisch during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Montini's Nick Fisch during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Francis' Samuel King during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      St. Francis' Samuel King during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Francis' Christian Spahn during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      St. Francis' Christian Spahn during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Carson Welsh during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Carson Welsh during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian's Alex Powell during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Harvest Christian's Alex Powell during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Montini's Tommy May during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      Montini's Tommy May during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • ICCP's Quinn Hipskind during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin.

      ICCP's Quinn Hipskind during the varsity boys cross country race at Harvest Christian Saturday September 26, 2020 in Elgin. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/26/2020 3:00 PM

Realizing that many cross country teams are looking for a place to run, Harvest Christian decided to be a happy host.

With several traditional sites for cross country meets sitting idle this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lions have opened up their wooded campus in Elgin for Saturday invitationals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Harvest Christian welcomed eight schools Saturday morning in the third of five Saturday invites the Lions are holding.

"We understood there were a lot of forest preserves that weren't going to allow races," Harvest Christian boys and girls coach Steven Bland said. "We said we have this place, we don't have to get park district approval. We own this property and we can host races. We love this course. It's a strength runners course, you have to be tough."

With both the boys and girls races limited to 50 runners, teams ran six varsity runners instead of the traditional seven. The seventh runners, along with a couple other schools, then ran in a JV/open race that followed the varsity races.

IC Catholic Prep started the day by pulling away from the field in the girls varsity race. The Lady Knights put the first three runners into the chute including junior Carly Manchester who won the race in 19 minutes, 54 seconds.

"It's very exciting, it gives me a lot of courage for the future races," Manchester said. "It's fun to race against (more) teams and this is the biggest one I've seen this season."

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Even with the bigger field, Manchester's main competition came from a teammate, Kennedy Calcagno (20:03). The two ran with Aurora Central Catholic's Isabella Orosle in the first mile, then put some distance between themselves and the field over the final two miles.

"We're kind of used to it," Manchester said. "We've been running like that since fifth grade. Our goal was to stay with lead girl for the first mile and then see how it went."

IC Catholic Prep's Frankie Chaidez was third and the Lady Knights also had the 10th and 11th finishers for 27 points, well ahead of Harvest Christian (64) and St. Francis (71).

Alyssa Falco ran a 20:59 for St. Francis to take fourth.

Harvest Christian's boys followed IC Catholic Prep's one-sided win in the girls race with an equally impressive victory. Senior Mathew Olech won the race in 16:16, seven seconds in front of teammates Hayden Colclasure and Daniel Winkelman in second and third place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Lions' fourth and fifth runners, Carson Welsh and Alex Powell, took eighth and 10th, respectively, to give Harvest Christian a 24-37 win over St. Francis with Montini third (75 points).

"We have been training hard," Olech said. "We are getting ready for a strong season. We motivate each other."

Olech won the race by overtaking his teammates in the final mile.

"I felt really good on the last mile," Olech said. "This course is a challenge for everyone. (The key) is don't get discouraged by the hills. And there's some sharp turns."

Luke Orwig finished in fourth place for runner-up St. Francis. Teammates Samuel King and Christopher Spahn took sixth and seventh.

Montini's Nick Fisch was fifth in 17:01 in a race that belonged to the host Lions.

"They executed our strategy today as far as what we wanted to see with them," Bland said. "Our course is slow and it's 5K. What we really wanted to see was effort and execution throughout the race. Our boys stayed focused the whole race, they never let up."

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