Cross country: Glenbard North's Schager wins sectional crown
By the time Glenbard North junior Grace Schager finishes her prep running career, she'll have a long list achievements under her belt, so many that she'll have to be considered one of the top Panther runners ever.
Earlier this year Schager set the school record with a 3-mile time of 16:42 in an invitational in Peoria. On Saturday, she became the program's first girls cross country sectional champion when her time of 17:19.0 on a sloppy, slippery course at the Class 3A Lake Park sectional topped the field. York's Bria Bennis was second overall in 17:34.0 and teammate Katherine Klimek was third at 17:47.2 as the top-ranked Dukes claimed the team title with an impressive score of 23.
"The weather was beautiful, but the course was not so beautiful," Schager said, showing off her mud-filled legs. "It was slippery, but I got some new spikes. I was definitely nervous coming into it because it was a very competitive sectional. York and all these teams are really good."
But Schager was better, and now heads to her first state finals next week in Peoria. She burst onto the cross country scene last year and would have qualified for state had there been an actual meet.
"We wanted to focus a lot more on place than time, but I'm still happy with my time," said Schager, who won an invite last month on this course and then placed second at the conference meet. "It's about the same as the last time I was here and it was better conditions last time. So, it's interesting especially since where I was last year. I was just excited to qualify for state (before) and now to win a sectional is pretty nice."
For York, it was a dominating showing Saturday. The Dukes placed six runners in the top 10, and their seventh runner was a solid 24th overall.
"They ran great. Such difficult conditions in terms of the course being soggy, slick, but they executed," Dukes coach Lauren Deangelis said. "We wanted to focus more on the pack today, so getting out quickly, preparing for state, making sure we pack up and finishing really strong and really working together. That's what they did. I'm very, very happy. To have 6 runners in the top 10 at sectional, wow."
The top seven teams move on to state which meant runner-up Glenbard West and seventh place Wheaton Warrenville South are also headed to Peoria. The Hilltoppers were led by Audrey Allman's fourth-place finish and Carlin Haas was 21st overall. For the Tigers, Annie Macabobby was 13th overall.
In the boys race, York pulled out another crown with a score of 68 that held off St. Charles East (92). Also advancing to state as a team were Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South.
The Falcons Ryan Zydek was third overall in 15:42.0, behind only defending sectional champ Michah Wilson of St. Charles East and runner up Riley Newport of DeKalb.
York's Garrett Schwan was fourth overall and Michel Atkins paced WW South while taking fifth.