Girls cross country: Hersey's Harden, Prospect shine at MSL meet
Hersey sophomore girls cross country standout Anna Harden knows what it's like to be the lone wolf on the course.
Harden, 23rd in the state as a freshman last year, won the Mid-Suburban League title this past weekend by almost 50 seconds.
"She took a commanding lead from the start and it kept growing," Hersey coach Danielle Freeman said.
Harden, a former youth national champion, said having large leads in races has its pluses and minuses. "It's definitely hard continuing to push yourself, but (having a large lead) definitely builds some confidence," she said.
Like any top-flight runner, competition, Harden said, makes her step up her game. "I am more motivated when there are people there who could challenge me," she said. "It motivates me to know I have to do my best in this race."
Harden noted she increased her training mileage this fall from 40-45 miles per week into the 55-60 range. "That's helped with endurance and my ability to hold the pace," she said. "My strength and endurance and ability to push the pace the first couple miles and hold until the end has been my biggest improvement."
Harden, who has her eye on breaking 17 minutes for 3 miles, knows competition will be lurking the next two weeks in the COVID-19-truncated IHSA Class 3A postseason in the form of Loyola Academy freshman Morgan Mackie (the IESA state champion a year ago). The two have gone head-to-head three times, with Harden having the upper hand once. They will battle Saturday at the Loyola regional at the Munz Campus in Glenview, along with Lake Zurich sophomore standout Brooke Johnston, who won the North Suburban title last weekend and has 7 first-place finishes in eight 3-mile starts this fall, according to one statistical service. The sectional is at Hoffman Estates, the site of Harden's MSL win.
Prospect wins MSL crown:
The Knights dominated on their way to the MSL title with seven all-conference athletes and 11 runners finishing in the top 37 in the conference. Coach Pete Wintermute's group had a 51-second 1-5 split, plus his top four ran a 13-second split and placed in the top seven -- with sophomore Cameron Kalaway (2nd), Audrey Ginsberg (3rd), sophomore Hailey Erickson (5th) and Annika Erickson (7th) crossing in that order. Elena Barbaric, Samantha Patterson and Paige Runkle also headed to the all-conference list. Wintermute said Prospect and Glenbrook South will be the favorites for the Hoffman Estates regional title Saturday.
Barrington 2nd in MSL:
The Fillies, second to Prospect in the MSL, placed seven on the all-conference team, punctuated by Molly Fitzpatrick (6th), Katherine Shein (8th) and Anne Berquist (10th). Coach Debbie Revolta's team heads to the competitive Loyola regional Saturday.
Naperville North DVC champs:
The 2019 3A state champions won the DuPage Valley Conference title with Audrey Mendrys winning her first individual conference title. "We ran very well throughout every race, even running several all-time personal bests in spite of the relatively-challenging course," North coach Dan Iverson said. North will be challenged by Neuqua Valley, Oswego and Oswego East at the Class 3A Oswego East regional.
St. Charles East takes DKC title:
The Saints had six runners in the top 15 on their way to the DuKane Conference crown. Marley Andelman (5th), Morgan Sunderlund (6th) and Ava Abbott (9th) led the way, along with Mackenzie Loomis (11th). It was St. Charles East's first title since 2011. "We had five girls who had never raced in a varsity conference meet before and they all ended up all-conference," coach Brad Kaplan noted. East, St. Charles North and Maine South are favorites at Saturday's Lake Park regional at East campus in Medinah.
Batavia 2nd in DKC:
The Bulldogs, second in the DuKane Conference, were led by DuKane individual champion Katrina Schlenker, while Jenna Shifferer (4th) and Lauren Hunecke (7th) also ran their fastest times of the season en route to all-conference honors. Batavia is in the loaded Proviso West regional with Wheaton Warrenville South, York, Lyons Township and Glenbard West.
Vernon Hills wins CSL:
The Cougars won the Central Suburban behind individual conference champion and sophomore Anna Todd. Reina Hill and Rose Sheridan followed right behind in second and third. All seven Cougar varsity runners earned all-conference awards. Vernon Hills is in the Class 2A Antioch regional at Polly Field that features Top-10 state teams in the Cougars, Lakes, Grayslake Central and Prairie Ridge.
Lakes won the Northern Lake County title for a second year in a row behind conference runner-up Brooke Stromsland, Paige Caruth (6th) and Madison Twarling (7th); St. Charles North's Rachel Price took third at DuKane; freshmen Kate Tueting and Ava Hendren led Naperville Central (which ran without front-runner Liv Phillips, who was injured) at the DVC; Crystal Lake South's Bella Gonzalez won the Fox Valley Conference individual title in 17:46, while Abby Machesky was fourth in 17:59.