Several local runners shine at state course in Peoria
Regardless of the outcome, Naperville North senior Lucy Westlake discusses her cross country races with her grandfather, who still lives in Louisville, Ky.
"They didn't get to make it out, but they'd love to," said Westlake, who moved in sixth grade. "My grandpa's really good about driving up here."
There was plenty of good news from Saturday's First to the Finish Invitational at Detweiller Park in Peoria -- the annual site of the state meet that was canceled in 2020 during the limited COVID-restricted season.
Westlake won the 3.0-mile Class 3A girls race -- her first major race victory as a high school runner -- and the No. 2 state-ranked Huskies captured the team title with 100 points. Westlake's 17:31.2 for the 3.0 miles won by 2.3 seconds. Her previous best major finish she recalled was third behind standout teammates Maggie Gamboa and Audrey Mendrys, who have graduated.
"It's a nice feeling for sure," Westlake said. "This year it's definitely been different but we still have a lot of girls that are really motivated. I try to be a role model in how I practice and that's honestly all anyone can do. I have a great team around me. It's pretty easy."
The Huskies won by 15 points over Minooka. No. 2 to 5 team finishers Logan Brennan, Sophie Golobitsh, Julie Piot and Emma Berres placed from 20th to 33rd with a 30-second split. Naperville Central was third.
In her season debut, Batavia senior Katrina Schlenker was third in 17:44.5, just ahead of Metea Valley's Sarah Maggio in 17:46.0.
"It was just a good start off race," said Schlenker, a multiple all-stater. "I like First to the Finish because it gives you a good feel of where you're at training wise because Detweiller is a pretty known course."
Barrington freshman Scout Storms was sixth in 18:04.6. Benet's Louisa Diamond, Naperville Central's Liv Phillips, Libertyville's Bree Ponchak and Naperville Central's Katie Tueting were eighth through 11th and the Redhawks' Ava Hendren was 15th.
"I just wanted to take it out hard and go run a fast mile to start and see if I could hold it through the back part," Storms said.
Grayslake Central won the 2A girls title with 93 points. Dunlap edged Vernon Hills 109-114 for second and Lake Forest was fourth. The Rams and Cougars are among the top-three 2A teams in both state polls.
"I think this is definitely the strongest our team has ever been," said Grayslake Central senior Bryn Sato, who was 11th Saturday on the 2019 eighth-place state team. "It's great being here (again) after a two-year break."
The Rams' Bella Domier was fourth (18:00.0). Sara Armstrong, Katie Armstrong and Sofia Witt were 18th, 27th and 39th.
"It felt like it was pretty good. The finish was longer than I expected so I spent some of my energy (too soon)," Domier said. "I think we have a chance of placing at state."
Lake Forest sophomore Isabella Marsico was third. Vernon Hills' Anna Todd (18:24.7) and Reina Hill (18:30.0) were eighth and 10th. Marsico's personal-best 17:46.7 was beaten only by Northside's Ella Ton-That (17:15.0) and Latin's Mia Kolter (17:30.1). Marsico was second to Kolter in last week's Hornet-Red Devil Invite sophomore race.
"I still have more work to do but they really helped push me so I'm excited to race against them again," Marsico said. "I just tried to run a good race. There's a lot of good people here."
Burlington Central senior Yusuf Baig was second (15:04.3) in the 2A boys race to Bartonville Limestone's Wilson Georges (14:46.2), the class' top-rated runner.
"I've never really raced at Detweiller with this fitness so I was really excited to come out here," Baig said. "I wanted everyone to know I'm up there with the top guys."
Glenbard South was fourth. Grayslake Central's Trey Sato was 15th. In 3A boys, Hinsdale Central finished one point ahead of Downers Grove North 135-136 and behind New Trier's 125. Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley were fourth and fifth. Hinsdale Central's Dan Watcke won 14:50.0 by .5 over New Trier's Nick Falk after winning his home Hornet-Red Devils Invite.
"It was a lot cooler last week. That was the main thing (Saturday)," Watcke said.
Downers Grove North senior Roy Llewellyn was sixth in 15:03.8, Neuqua Valley's Ryan Palmer and Noah Schalliol were 11th and 14th and Waubonsie Valley's Angel Solis 12th. IC Catholic Prep senior Carly Manchester was sixth in 1A girls in 18:18.8 and freshman Grazi Narcisi 15th. Wheaton Academy was fourth. The Warriors' Sheldon Powell was 15th in 1A boys.
"After last year, I'm really thankful to be running here again," Manchester said. "I missed the course last year and honestly, it's just one of the faster courses. I feel like it brings the morale up and keeps me motivated."