Girls cross country: Batavia's Schlenker hopes to finish strong
It's been all positive vibes for Batavia junior cross country standout Katrina Schlenker this year -- and that's no cliché.
"What have I improved on? It's really been my mindset," she said. "It's improved a lot, especially how I view everything. I have adopted a more positive mindset this year and it has shown in my running. I feel like I didn't have a lot of confidence my sophomore year because of injury and how I finished my track season. I really have focused on pushing away anything pessimistic and turning that into a positive mentality."
Schlenker is looking for the trifecta Saturday at the season-ending Class 3A Lyons Township sectional (South campus in Western Springs), in search of her third title in as many weeks after winning DuKane Conference and regional titles in her previous two outings.
"There will be a lot of girls and teams there that are really good," Schlenker said. "Hopefully, I can show what I can do against that caliber of competition."
Wheaton-Warrenville South senior Samantha Poglitsch finished 8-plus seconds behind Schlenker at the regional, while underclassmen Michaela Quinn and Brooke Berger fueled York to a regional title win and also will be present at Lyons.
York, St. Charles East, Batavia, Huntley, Wheaton-South and St. Charles North are teams to keep an eye on at Lyons. St. Charles East is led by freshman Marley Andelman and sophomore Morgan Sandlund, who were all-regional in their first postseason outings last week. Saints junior Shauna Norgaard ran a PR 19:04 out of the third flight and ended up in 10th overall at the regional.
South Elgin also is part of the Lyons field, led by junior regional champion Naomi Ruff. "This year has been different," she said. "With most of our meets it was two or three teams, so there weren't as many runners. I had to find new strategies and find different ways to go fast."
Ruff would like to set a PR in the 1720-1730s range. Her best this season has been a 17:43.
•Regional-champion Prospect heads to the Class 3A Hoffman Estates sectional at the Hoffman campus. The Knights, along with Loyola Academy and Barrington are the favorites, along with New Trier, Lake Zurich, Cary-Grove and Lake Forest as part of the contender conversation as well. Sophomore Hailey Erickson continues to excel for the Knights, winning the Hoffman regional title last week.
"Hailey came into the season hungry and ready to improve upon her freshman year," Prospect coach Pete Wintermute said. "She brings a positive voice to practice each day. She has a relentless drive."
•2019 Class 3A state champion Naperville North is the favorite at the Whitney Young sectional at Lincoln Park in the city, with Downers Grove South and Oak Park-River Forest also teams to watch. Huskies' coach Dan Iverson lauded the efforts of Sophie Golobitsh in the regional. She finished fourth overall in the race out of the third flight (5-7 runners). "Sophie had a particularly good day," Iverson said.
•A couple of Class 2A sectionals to keep an eye on are at Lincoln Park in Chicago (Chicago Latin School hosting) and Lakes High School in Lake Villa (no spectators allowed at Lakes).
Benet Academy, the 2019 Class 2A state champion, will go head-to-head with top-ranked Latin School in the city. "With the absence of the state meet, we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to run against top-ranked Latin," Benet coach Katie Paski said. "Our girls are very much looking forward to the opportunity to race head-to-head in the final meet of the season."
Paski has been pleased with Benet's pack development of late, particularly with the flight format during the postseason. "The girls did a great job implementing the many strategies we have been focusing on in practice," said Paski, whose team has been ranked right behind Latin for most of the season.
The Redwings were paced at the regional by Louisa Diamond and Joy Jackson, who each won their flights.
At Lakes, look for an extremely competitive field with the likes of Vernon Hills, Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake South, Grayslake Central, Dixon and the hosts -- all teams ranked in the Class 2A state Top 20 by one media outlet. "I don't know that there is a clear favorite right now," Lakes coach Travis Shepherd said. "Everyone will need to be on their 'A' game. We will have success if we can tighten our 2-6 pack like we did at the conference meet."
Lakes' Maddie Perez was huge at the regional. Her win in the third flight provided a 2-point swing, enough to give the Eagles the regional title (50-52 over Vernon Hills). "Maddie battled all the way to the line," Shepherd said. "I'm proud of her mental toughness and dedication to her teammates."
Vernon Hills' Reina Hill ran close to her lifetime PR in the 3-5 heat at the regional, ending up in sixth place overall. "I was very impressed with Reina," Cougars coach Suzanne Curry said. "She only just returned midseason after an early-season injury set her back."