Batavia's Schlenker pulls away to win sectional crown
For almost the first two miles of the Class 3A Lyons Township girls cross county sectional Saturday, Batavia's Katrina Schlenker and Wheaton Warrenville South's Samantha Poglitsch ran side-by-side.
Just before the third lap, Schlenker pushed. She opened up a little space, and she didn't let Poglitsch -- or anyone else -- catch up the rest of the way.
Schlenker won the sectional title in 17:05, nine seconds ahead of Poglitsch.
"It means a lot to win the sectional," Schlenker said. "I won my freshman year and sophomore year I didn't do as well as I wanted to. It feels nice to be up there and be competitive again."
Kate Dickman from Lyons Township finished third in 17:33 followed by Glenbard West's Audrey Allman (17:34), York's Brooke Berger (17:37), St. Charles East's Marley Andelman (17:49), South Elgin's Naomi Ruff (17:53), St. Charles North's Rachel Price (17:55) and Kelly Carpenter from Jacobs in 18:06.
Other than Poglitsch, nobody came close to the Batavia junior.
"I decided to push the first mile really, really hard and came in around 5:28 which is faster than we've done earlier this season," Schlenker said. "I think I executed that well. Second mile could have been faster, that's something I can always work on and improve on. Pushed again at the end of the second mile and tried to separate myself and that was successful today."
Running on her home course, Dickman found herself in fifth place through the first mile before she worked her way into the top three.
"I had seen all the other races and they were going out really hot," Dickman said. "I race a lot from a little further back. I was pretty comfortable I could stay in that position for the first mile and then move up."
Lyons did not allow spectators at the sectional, which was split into four races to keep fewer runners on the course.
A few fans did their best from just outside the course to cheer the runners. With numerous houses lining the course there were a number of people watching from their backyards. A few played music, creating a festive atmosphere.
"It's a really fun environment. I just love racing on the home course," said Dickman, who was proud of the way Lyons ran as a team.
"We had amazing races today. First race we had a freshman and sophomore run incredible for being underclassmen. We have a pretty young team this year so I'm super proud of all the younger girls who have really stepped up and worked so hard to race in these big races and still perform incredibly well."
The final race with the No. 1s turned out to be the only one York didn't win. The Dukes claimed the sectional title going away with 40 points, well ahead of Batavia (108), St. Charles East (111), Lyons (137), St. Charles North (149), Wheaton Warrenville South (151) and Huntley (193).
York's Michaela Quinn dominated the 2/3 runners, winning in 17:20 with LT's Catherine Sommerfeld in second (17:44) followed by York's Bria Bennis (17:46), St. Charles East's Morgan Sandlund (17:47) and St. Charles North's Ella Townsend (17:56).
Other than a stretch of the course that led into the chute that was into the wind, Quinn said she didn't have many problems.
"I knew who I had to look out for," Quinn said. "I didn't want to waste my energy (in the first mile)."
York's runners finished first and second in both the 4/5 race -- Katelyn Watson (17:49) and Katherine Klimek (17:55) -- and 6/7, Maggie Owens (18:26) and Erin Powers (18:43).
"We have a really strong six and seven, four and five, and a really strong one, two and three," Quinn said. "A very tough seven."
Boys race: Defending state champion St. Charles East pulled out a narrow victory over York, 58-63, with host Lyons in third at 67.
Maine South (154), WW South (161), Glenbard West (177) and St. Charles North (215) rounded out the top seven.
Saints junior Micah Wilson had the fast time at 14:43 running with the second and third runners. In the final heat, teammate Luke Schildmeyer also won his race in 14:47.
"I didn't even know what time he got," Schildmeyer said of Wilson. "I just wanted to win this race.
"I'm super lucky Micah is my teammate because the competition isn't that great because of the rules this year. We have been able to push each other every race. He's a great training partner."
In the final race, Schildmeyer broke from a huge pack about a mile and a quarter into the race.
In the race right before that, Wilson ran by himself basically the entire way. Teammate Zach Loomis was the closest in 15:00, the third best time overall to give the Saints a 1-2-3 finish.
"The first mile I wanted to go out conservative," Loomis said. "Second mile I decided to push the pace a little bit and then I just tried to hold as much as I can to the end of the race. The wind was a huge factor."
York's Mickey Vreeland finished second in the final heat in 15:02, good for fourth overall, using a strong kick to pass up several runners.
Teammate Sam Ayers won the 4/5 race in 15:34. Colin Hill was third in the 2/3 race in 15:04.
Saturday marked the first race York had all of its top seven healthy.
"I think we did awesome. I could not be more proud of my teammates," Vreeland said. "That last 300 I made my move, I was trying to get back up there and that last 300, 400 is really when I got to the front of the pack."
In the final heat, Matt Coyle from Maine South was third in 15:09, St. Charles North's Noah Eng fourth in 15:10 and Lyons Township's Owen Hayes fifth in 15:10.
The host Lions also got strong runs in the 2/3 race from Jocqael Thorpe (15:07) and Charlie McIawhorn (15:18).
"I didn't get out too good, so I charged up there," Thorpe said. "I knew I could run with them. That's what made me run like that in last mile."
"I'm new to the top group running thing," McIawhorn said. "I always try to run with Jocqael, stay competitive with him, a friendly rivalry. He pushed it with 1,000 or 800 to go. I tried to stick but my legs just didn't have it."