Cross country: Huntley girls, Jacobs boys take 2nd at FVC meet
The Prairie Ridge Wolves covering on her face helped girls cross country coach Kelly MacDonald mask her excitement.
MacDonald rejoined her team after the Fox Valley Conference Meet on Saturday at Plato Park and had the girls stand and huddle around.
"This was probably the closest conference ever," she said. "Fourteen points separated the top four teams. That is a blink of an eye. That is crazy. It could have gone any single way. It was only two points for first ... but, today was our time."
The girls leapt up and down and cheered the first FVC girls cross country title in school history. Prairie Ridge finished with 74 points, two ahead of Huntley. Cary-Grove (82) and Crystal Lake South (88) were both right there as well.
South's Bella Gonzalez won in 17:46.48 to repeat as individual champion. Prairie Ridge's Rachel Soukup ran a torrid second half of the race, moving from sixth to second and finishing in 17:48.10.
In the boys race, Crystal Lake Central's Tommy Landt and Karson Hollander went 1-2 and led the Tigers to first with 44 points. Jacobs (72) was second and Hampshire was third with 89.
"This is absolutely amazing," Soukup said. "This has been our goal and I'm very proud of the whole team. We've worked really hard. I knew my team counted on me like I counted on them. I couldn't let them down."
Colette Janik (ninth), Rylee Lydon (10th), Bridget Jewell (19th) and Olivia McPherson (34th) finished out the Wolves' scoring. Huntley was led by Breanna Burak (seventh), Brittney Burak (12th) and Molly Allen (13th).
"The girls had a lot of doubts, but one of the things they've done the last couple years is finishing hard and closing races," said MacDonald, whose last two teams took third in the Class 2A State Meet. "That last half of the race made the difference. We knew it was going to be tough. They just came out and made it happen."
Gonzalez ran with Jacobs' Kelly Carpenter, who finished third, for the first 2 miles, then put some distance on her. South now has five of the last six FVC girls titles (Caitlin Bruzzini in 2015 and 2016, Mackenzie Aldridge in 2018 and the last two to Gonzalez).
"I was really nervous," Gonzalez said. "I was up really late last night freaking out. I kind of just went out there and raced. I wrote my times on my hand (as reminders during the race) and went out and raced."
Landt and Doetsch ran together for the first 2 miles before Landt gained some ground. Eventually Hollander caught him as well in the Flight A race.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10-team FVC ran two five-team flights based off dual meet records. Cary-Grove's Ian Barnes and Prairie Ridge's Will Gelon took third and fourth from Flight B, and Doetsch finished in fifth place.
"About the 2-mile mark I passed him for the first time and I tried to kick it in and build some distance between him and stretch it out that last mile," Landt said. "I knew Karson could have a chance to be up there close to me. I wasn't surprised at all."
Although Landt, who won in 15:03.96, did not realize his teammate was in second as he crossed the finish line. Hollander's time was 15:22.05.
"When I saw Tommy and Doetsch way up, I wasn't expecting Doetsch to fall off," Hollander said. "(Coach Bill) Eschman told me to pass him at the 2¼ mark. I wasn't necessarily expecting to pass him but Eschman told me that's what I needed to do, so I went out and did it."
The team championship was Central's first since 2016.
"Karson was fantastic," Eschman said. "Austin May could have fallen apart. He's been sick, he went through COVID testing (and was negative) because he was sick. At the mile mark he was 25th or 30th. I give him a lot of credit. We're here for one another."
May finished 12th and Reilly Wheeland was 22nd for the Tigers' other scoring runners.