Cross country: Grayslake Central, Grant's Negovetich excel at NLCC meet
With one week before the IHSA state girls cross country series begins, one team and one individual have emerged as serious state-title contenders following the Northern Lake Country Conference meet Saturday morning in Ingleside.
Grayslake Central will be one of the teams to beat in Class 2A competition as the Rams held off Lakes 40-48 for first place on the 3-mile Bulldog Sports Complex course hosted by Grant as the host Bulldogs had a strong third-place finish with 69 points.
After placing fourth in the state in Class 3A as both a freshman and a sophomore, Grant senior Aly Negovetich rolled to first place Saturday in 17:40.7 to easily outdistance runner-up Becca Runyan of Lakes (18:33).
Grayslake Central's championship effort was led by Bella Domier in third place, Sara Armstrong in fourth, Sofia Witt in ninth, and Bryn Sato in 10th.
"I was very happy, the team effort was there, and we did what we needed to do," said Grayslake Central coach Jimmy Centella. "(Runyan) went out hard today and tried to stay with Aly, and it was nice to have a 1-2 punch."
Jessie Pakaski led Wauconda's squad in fifth place followed by Grant teammates Brianna Osmon (seventh), and Laura Bishop (eighth).
"My P.R. here is a 17:03, but really the game plan today was to shoot for 17 minutes," said Negovetich, who has committed to attend Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. "(A state title) would be a dream, of course I'm going to put myself in a place to win it."
Lakes teammates Paige-Elicia Caruth and Madison Twarling placed 11th and 12th respectively, while Jennifer Cortes led Round Lake in 13th place.
"I thought they ran really well, and they're starting to show the signs of running fast," said Lakes coach Travis Shepherd. "We have a bunch of freshmen and sophomores who are developing really well and we had six all-conference (top 21)."
In the boys' meet, Grayslake Central rolled to the championship by a 31-65 margin over Lakes as the Rams had the top three finishers in the 3-mile race. Antioch nipped the host Bulldogs 83-85 for third place.
Sophomore Trey Sato cruised to first place in 16:06.6 followed by Central teammates John Vagnoni in second, and Bryan Vale in third.
"We had a great day out there. To go 1-2-3 in a conference meet is amazing," said Centella. "Our super sophomores (Sato and Vagnoni) are running like seniors in sophomore bodies so that is awesome to see."
Charlie Hamann led Grant in fourth place followed by Grayslake North's Armani Diaz in fifth, and Antioch's Lucas Baronello in sixth. Lakes' Gavin Murrie placed seventh to edge teammate Micah Lind in eighth.
"I came through 5:20 (at the one-mile mark). I really wanted to crank it up in the second mile, and it was all heart racing the clock in the third mile," said Sato. "I think we're looking really good, we just have to get healthy and we'll have a really good shot for top three or four at state."
Antioch's Carter Webb (ninth), and Lakes' Payton Whitehead rounded out the top 10 while Central's Kyle Bianchi nipped Grant's Dane Glover for 11th place. Grayslake North's Owen Davies placed 13th.
"They've really learned to compete. They like starting slow and moving up and catching people," Shepherd said. "We had four all-conference boys and they're ready to run fast at the right time."