Cross country: Grayslake Central sweeps races at Deerfield

By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/29/2022 7:42 PM

Eric and Sheri Sato named their third child Trey because he was No. 3 behind Bryn and Ty in the Sato brood.

But the Grayslake Central junior refuses to live up -- make that, live down -- to his name in cross country races. Trey Sato did it again Saturday morning, finishing first at the Class 2A Deerfield boys cross country sectional with a snappy three-mile time of 15:04.76.


Payton senior Ritvik Viniak finished runner-up in 15:19.55.

How dominant was Sato's performance on what had to be the most gorgeous Oct. 29th in the history of Oct. 29ths?

Small continents aren't as vast as the distance Sato had established from Viniak when GC's top Ram completed the race.

"It was a two-part test," said Sato, 12th at the Class 2A state meet last fall and the youngest son of a member of the 1989 Winnebago cross country state team champion (Sheri) and a Luther North state qualifier in the 1600-meter run (Eric). "The first loop, you're fighting for position, settling in. The back loops, that's where you have to make it happen.

"At the mile mark, I heard, '5:15,' and then thought, 'Uh-oh.' I'd hoped for a 4:50."

Sato took off briskly about a quarter of a mile later, forcing Viniak and others in the chasing pack to abruptly alter their race plans and dash for silver instead of gold in sunny, windless, ridiculously mild conditions.

Sato paced an impressive team showing. Coach Jimmy Centella's GC crew zipped to four of the top nine spots and captured the sectional championship -- and one of seven automatic team state berths -- with a puny (a synonym for "superb" in cross country circles) total of 43 points.

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Grayslake Central's Adan Cordova (15:31.31), William Welty (15:32.25), John Vagnoni (15:38.74) and Duncan Jones (16:11.91) finished sixth, seventh, ninth and 21st, respectively, around Deerfield's campus course. Rams Nolan Kissinger and Aashay Patel also raced.

Deerfield (81), Payton (92), Mather (96), Vernon Hills (120), Niles Notre Dame (133) and Lakes (150) also secured state-meet team box assignments at Detweiller Park in Peoria next weekend.

Vernon Hills junior Charlie Blackmer clocked a team-best 15:37.45 (eighth place) and, like the rest of the Cougars, emerged as a first-time state qualifier.

"We had a plan, but it wasn't our best race," admitted Blackmer, who likes to let "everybody else do the work in the first mile" and then get going in the second and third miles. "We definitely have more in us than what we showed today. Still, we're excited. We'll taper.


"We'll be ready at state."

VH's other scorers Saturday were Brady Clegg (13th, 15:53.02), Erick Herrera (24th, 16:13.88), Zackery Shoemaker (39th, 16:34. 5) and Jeremy Gitzinger (43rd, 16:36.52).

Lakes senior Micah Lind (12th, 15:59.98) finished first among Eagles, followed by Payton Whitehead (18th, 16:05.39), Jackson Summy (31st, 16:19.95), Brady Mock (45th, 16:42.56) and Blake Salbilla (53rd, 16:57.35.)

Carmel Catholic's Cole Bonham (16th, 16:03.56) and Joey Lodowsky (41st, 16:35.06) and Antioch's Carter Webb (22nd, 16:12.49) and Carson Lanners (48th, 16:49.34) each advanced to state as an individual qualifier.

Grayslake Central's reigning Class 2A state champion girls squad also turned in a "Trey" bien effort at Deerfield Saturday, scooting to the team title (55 points) behind freshman Ava Henne's third-place 17:28.53 and junior Sara Armstrong's eighth-place 17:53.84.

St. Ignatius freshman Annika Swan (17:32.82) and Northside Prep sophomore Lucia Ton-That (17:27.15) went 1-2.

"Ava stayed patient in the chase pack (of five)," said Centella, who also guides the girls program at his alma mater. "She's tough ... tough as nails. She's strong mentally, as are all of our girls, and you have to believe in yourself to do well in this sport.

"And when you're running for your team, you usually run faster," he added.

Freshman Jordan Sutter (11th, 18:11.61) was third among Rams, followed by Katie Armstrong (17th, 18:37.22) and Bella Domier (18th, 18:40.95). Sofia Witt and Victoria Piela also toured the fast, flat layout for the champs.

St. Ignatius (66 points) silvered and Lakes (70) bronzed. Runners for Lake Forest (131), Vernon Hills (131), Deerfield (171) and Antioch (196) also get to don their uniforms for one more race.

Don't think every point in cross country counts? Think again. Antioch edged eighth-place Payton by 1 point for the final team berth.

The Class 2A girls state meet will also be staged at Detweiller Park on Saturday.

Eagles junior Paige-Elicia Caruth sped to fifth place (17:33.78) to punctuate Lakes' fine showing Saturday morning. Senior mate Becca Runyan (9th, 18:03.61) was next, with Madison Twarling (12th, 18:15.61), Madison Perez (20th, 18:46.06) and Hannah Rojas (27th, 19:03.52) also scoring for the contingent from Lake Villa.

"I like to start fast, try to keep pace heading into the second mile and then give it all I've got in the final mile," Caruth said.

"The game plan today," Lakes assistant coach Christine Zucker said, "was to have each girl run her race and stay aggressive, from flag to flag, during the tight turns."

Senior Anna Todd's 10th-place 18:05.98 highlighted Vernon Hills' day. Cougars Reina Hill (24th, 18:55.41), Ashlee Shoemaker (28th, 19:04.11), Jori Ellen (33rd, 19:15.26) and Daniela Gomez Anez (47th, 20:02.68) bounded to state berths, too.

Antioch received a 34th-place effort from Rosie Gonzalez (19:20.47) and a 36th-place showing from Piper Ipsen (19:32.84). Sequoit Angela Ortiz took 40th (19:38.35), ahead of teammates Abby Sooley (49th, 20:07.62) and Addison Lane (58th, 20:35.19).

Carmel's Izzy Bing (14th, 18:30.52) and Norah Belmonte (32nd, 19:14.82) and Grayslake North's Madison Petersen (25th, 18:59.58) and Yaremi Ramos (35th, 19:20.7) will practice this week as individual state qualifiers.

Strides & Kicks: Carmel runners wore team sweatshirts Saturday with the message EAT PASTA, RUN FASTA featured on the back. ... Grayslake Central's Sato ran a 15-flat at the Detweiller at Dark event in Peoria this past summer. The Ram gets to run the same course at state on Saturday. ... Sato's sister, Bryn, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse freshman, helped the Rams capture the program's first state title in history last fall. ... Trey's number of fantastic firsts this fall became a quartet when he crushed the field at Saturday's Deerfield sectional. He'd won the Lake County invite, the Northern Lake County Conference meet and last weekend's Lakes regional meet.

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