Cross country: Hersey's Harden leads the way with repeat title at MSL meet

  • Hersey's Anna Harden wins the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Hersey's Anna Harden wins the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Sean Safford wins the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet with a time of 15:00 at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Hersey's Sean Safford wins the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet with a time of 15:00 at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Left to right, Hersey's Anna Harden, Prospect's Hailey Erickson, Barrington's Scout Storms, Prospect's Lily Ginsberg and Palatine's Abigail Jordan run alongside one another during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Left to right, Hersey's Anna Harden, Prospect's Hailey Erickson, Barrington's Scout Storms, Prospect's Lily Ginsberg and Palatine's Abigail Jordan run alongside one another during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Wheeling's Brenda Torres is right behind the lead pack during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. She finished sixth with a time of 18:21.

    Wheeling's Brenda Torres is right behind the lead pack during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. She finished sixth with a time of 18:21. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Anna Harden, left, who finished first with a time of 17:34, is right behind Barrington's Scout Storms prior to overtaking her during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Hersey's Anna Harden, left, who finished first with a time of 17:34, is right behind Barrington's Scout Storms prior to overtaking her during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Scout Storms finishes second during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Barrington's Scout Storms finishes second during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Lily Ginsberg finishes third during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Prospect's Lily Ginsberg finishes third during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Runners, including Palatine's Mason Krieg (1927) are closely bunched early during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Runners, including Palatine's Mason Krieg (1927) are closely bunched early during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine's Jack Casaccio finishes second during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Palatine's Jack Casaccio finishes second during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Joey Furlong finishes third during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Barrington's Joey Furlong finishes third during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Zach Daniel passes Palatine's Mukal Verma just before the finish line during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday.

    Barrington's Zach Daniel passes Palatine's Mukal Verma just before the finish line during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Joey Furlong, left, and Hersey's Sean Safford run alongside one another during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Safford won the race, while Furlong finished third.

    Barrington's Joey Furlong, left, and Hersey's Sean Safford run alongside one another during the Mid-Suburban League cross country meet at Busse Woods near Schaumburg Saturday. Safford won the race, while Furlong finished third. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/16/2021 2:50 PM

Hersey's Anna Harden crossed the finish line Saturday at Busse Woods and collapsed with what must have been a mix of fatigue, joy, and relief.

The junior had just completed an outstanding accomplishment, winning the Mid-Suburban League individual girls cross-country championship for the second consecutive season.

 

She admitted, however, that she might have been feeling a little bit of stress during this year's race.

"I was exhausted, but at the same time I was so happy," said Harden. "I had so much pressure though, that I put on myself. I won last year by 45 seconds so there was a lot of pressure to repeat."

The tension didn't seem to hamper her performance in the least, however, as she won in the exemplary time of 17:33.51.

"I was hoping to go out here in 5:40, and that's what we did," added Harden. "I took the lead in the first 400 which might have been a mistake because I was feeling it a mile in. At the end, I knew I had to start kicking early because I'm not the fastest kicker but I needed to do it early to (keep) my lead. That's what I did with 400 left -- and it worked."

Prospect, led by Lily Ginsberg (17:45.31, third place) won the girls' team title; Palatine was team champion on the boys' side while Sean Safford of Hersey finished first overall with a mark of 14:59.45.

After the race, Safford gave props to his teammates.

"I'm so blessed to be running along with all of this talent," said the senior. "I kept telling myself today to just go out, compete, and have fun."

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Safford, who said it was his first time racing at Busse, added that now he's looking forward to a complete state series with a state final meet -- something that he and all of the other athletes couldn't experience last season due to the COVID-19 cancellation.

"It's awesome," said Safford. "We were all disappointed that it didn't happen last year, so we're all so happy that's it's happening this year."

Jack Casaccio led champs Palatine with a 15:02.21, good for second place.

"He's a three-time all conference runner, he came in saying that he was going to do his best, and he ran like a champ," said Pirates assistant coach Mike Nigliaccio.

Our guys raced really well today," added Nigliaccio. "They ran great."

Joey Furlong of Barrington (15:18.02) finished third on the boys' side, Sean Kura of Prospect (15:24.19) was fourth, while Knights teammate TJ Garland (15:27.53) finished fifth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In addition to Casaccio, the Pirates had two other runners finish in the top 10; Mukal Verma (8th) and Mason Krieg (10th).

Scout Storms of Barrington, a freshman, finished second overall in the girls' competition with a time of 17:37.54.

"This was amazing," said Storms. "Every turn there were people cheering you on. I just knew I wanted to stay with the top pack, the Prospect girls, Anna, and Abigail (Jordan, from Palatine). Just stay up there, and see what I had left at the finish."

The Hersey and Barrington boys teams tied for second, while the Fillies finished second overall in the girls' run, and Palatine was third.

Senior Zach Daniel excelled for the Broncos with a 15:31.55, good for sixth; Connor Oiler of the Hersey boys team (15:33.02) was seventh; Luka Kuzmanovic of Prospect took ninth overall; while Tyler Murphy of Palatine finished in 15:49.00 to give a big assist to the Pirates' win.

Theodore Cunningham from Fremd (11th), Johnny Lifka of host Hersey (12th), and Ryan Fryer from Barrington (13th) also posted top placements.

For the girls, Hailey Erickson of Prospect (17:49.04) was fourth, Jordan from the Pirates (17:55.28) finished fifth, Brenda Torres of Wheeling (18:20.91) was sixth, while three Knights -- Bridget Derengowski, Audrey Ginsberg and Cameron Kalaway finished 7-8-9 respectively to aid Prospect's win.

"This (the cross-country championship) means so much to us," said Audrey Ginsberg., a senior. "We've worked so hard for the past five months, and this just shows that our hard work has paid off. We haven't been taking anything for granted and I think that's why we're so excited about this."

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