Cross country: Diamond, Parisi help Benet keep pace behind Crystal Lake Central
Louisa Diamond and Amelia Parisi are essentially in a new arena for the girls cross country season.
Two years removed from being indispensable contributors to a historic Benet state-championship team, Diamond and Parisi are in the process of mentally and physically acclimating themselves to competing at the highest level.
The first state title in program history in the fall of 2019 made the Redwings' stay in Class 2A a short one.
Benet was immediately reclassified to the highest level, Class 3A, in the aftermath.
Saturday at the Eddington Invite in Maple Park on the Kaneland High School campus course, Diamond and Parisi finished second and fifth, respectively, for Benet.
Crystal Lake Central, expected to be a formidable obstacle in Class 2A, denied the Redwings the team title behind individual champion Hadley Ferrero and four complementary teammates in the top 20 to secure a 45-58 triumph over Benet.
"I think it's experience," said Diamond, who navigated the 3-mile course in 18 minutes, 19.82 seconds. "The seniors from last year were all on varsity since freshman year. Now we have a relatively new team. We are trying to teach the freshmen how to compete in 3A."
"The last time I was in 3A I had a giant (team) pack running with me," Parisi said. "I have to learn to race with myself again."
Mary Weber, Terese Tully and Grace Andringa were also in the top 20 for Benet in respective slots Nos. 15, 17 and 19.
Parisi and Diamond were the Redwings' fourth- and fifth-counting runners for the 2019 champions.
"We are getting our act together," Parisi said.
Timothy Christian, the only other local program, was ninth (261 points) as Cailey Schuurmann led the way in slot No. 42.
Kaneland was fourth with 149 points as Alli Gonnella snared the final top-10 berth with her 19:57.59 clocking.
"I normally like to come into this with a good attitude and have fun," Gonnella said. "It's my home course, and I just enjoy seeing the spectators and all the people running."
Jacobs' sixth-place finish (156) was flavored by Adeline Gorman in the No. 18 spot; Hampshire, No. 11 overall, was led by Kassidy Papa.
Larkin had no margin for error with only five girls in the race.
But the Royals' Heather Durrant, a South Elgin transfer, continued turning heads in her rapidly ascending junior campaign.
Durrant was third in 18:44.13 as the Royals (197) finished seventh overall.
"I am proud of what I have done so far this season," Durrant said. "I am focusing on my pacing. This is helping me get my all-time PR. I am almost there."
In the boys race, Benet was also the local standard-bearer with its third-place finish (133).
The Redwings, led by Aiden Hulett and Dom Ullmer, edged Jacobs on a sixth-runner tiebreaker.
"I thought I would do well but not (on) varsity," said Hulett (No. 18), on his freshman expectations. "I am real happy with my time. I kind of set goals to beat (my opponents') times."
Ullmer, 22nd, was making his season debut.
"It was a good first race, but I"m not happy with my performance," Ullmer said. "The problem was that I kind of went out like I did last year. I am not at that level yet."
Glenbard West was fifth at 134; Downers North was 10th with its frosh-soph team substituting for the varsity, and Timothy Christian finished 14th.
Glenbard West senior Michael Miller was eighth in 16:16.65.
"I knew I wasn't going to be 100 percent at this meet," Miller said. "This is probably the most competitive -- at least for individuals -- it has ever been."
Jacobs' Aidan Demuth was the unquestioned leader with his seventh-place effort in 16:10.32.
Like the Benet girls from two years ago the boys field included the de facto Class 2A reigning state champions in the host Knights.
Senior Christian Phillips' 16:17.59 was good for ninth in pacing the seventh-place Kaneland (143) finish.
"I did not feel any added pressure of doing better than I needed to," Phillips said. "This year is a new season, with new people (for Kaneland). We have to do the best we can."
Aidan Gonz\alez was seventh to frame the collective Hampshire effort (eighth, 167).
Burlington Central fielded only three runners, but it did not have any negative repercussions on star senior Yusuf Baig, who was runner-up in 15:30.16.
"That is a true story," Baig said of his coach, Vince Neil, claiming the reigning all-state track athlete was the second-slowest athlete in the program when he joined the squad as a sophomore. "I really wanted to get better coming into (the program) as a 6:55-miler. I have done the miles (to get better)."
Crystal Lake Central, as well as its freshman sensation Ferraro, captured major invitational titles in as many weekends in succession.
Ferrero missed eclipsing the 18-minute barrier by seven one-hundredths of a second.
"The team winning the title was definitely better," Ferrero said. "We all did very well today with our times. That was really important. I didn't think my times would be this good, this early."
In the wake of their team title last weekend in Wauconda, the Tigers were further bolstered by Bryann Mattheai and Annie Ferrero placing sixth and seventh.
Emma Macke and Addison Bechler rounded out the championship effort by placing Nos. 11 and 20.
"Before the season started it was a lot harder but now good for her," Annie Ferrero said of being bested by her little sister. "It helps the team. We have a shot at doing great things this season."
The Burlington Central boys were sixth (139) behind Karson Hollander and Daniel Hamill.
"I wanted to do better," said Hollander, who was six places better than Hamill in fifth. "I think the whole team wanted to do better today. It was exciting to go out and run with new guys (from other schools)."
With its DuPage Valley Conference brethren hailing not terribly far away, DeKalb served notice of its intent -- not to mention potential -- this fall.
Riley Newport, a junior, vanquished all comers in crafting an ideal morning.
The Barbs turned back traditional Class 2A power Belvidere North, 77-85, as Newport toured the course in 15:19.32.
Alex Boyden, the Barbs' senior fulcrum, was third -- second overall among team runners -- in 15:47.78.
Angel Fernandez (12th), Jack Harrison (28th) and Zander Ward (37th) rounded out the Barbs' contributors.
"This is not a fast course, but it's a fun course," Newport said. "It's very well-marked. We all had goals and executed them very well. We lost a lot of seniors last year but may be even better. We threw time out the window. Our only goal is to progress to that state meet, the sectional and conference."
Boyden has one paramount thought.
"A DeKalb team has not made it to state since the '70s," Boyden said. "It is new to me. I was just focusing on the guy on the opponents' team that I was trying to beat."
In the girls division, Sycamore (250) was eighth as Lily Baker was heads and shoulders above her teammates with a ninth-place showing.