Cross country: Grayslake Central girls, Grant's Negovetich shine at state
It was a headline-making day for Lake County area girls cross country teams Saturday as not one, but two squads brought home top-three trophies from the 42nd IHSA state meet.
Grayslake Central reached the mountain top in the Class 2A meet as the Rams captured their first state championship in school history in the sport with 148 points to outdistance runner-up Crystal Lake South, which had 162 points.
Perennial power Vernon Hills did it again on the 3-mile Detweiller Park course as the Cougars captured third place with 165 points to bring home the sixth top-three trophy in program history since 2013. Lakes placed fifth with 220 points.
After placing fourth in the state as a freshman and a sophomore, Grant senior Aly Negovetich closed out her stellar career with a second-place finish in Class 3A. There was no state meet last year due to the pandemic.
Sophomore Bella Domier led Grayslake Central's push to the team title with a 10th-place finish followed by teammates Sara Armstrong in 20th, Sofia Witt in 44th, and Bryn Sato in 51st.
The top three teams in Class 2A, and four of the top five, all emerged from the powerful Woodstock North sectional meet last weekend.
"We're ecstatic. In the middle of the season we had some injuries, and we were able to peak at the right time," said Grayslake Central coach Jimmy Centella, whose squad had never won a top-three trophy let alone a state crown.
"Almost everybody in the top five ran a personal best. I'm just proud of them because these girls overcame a lot of obstacles and they were able to bring it when it counts."
Vernon Hills' superb effort was led by Reina Hill's 11th-place run with great support from all-state teammate Anna Todd (14th), Jadyn Parker (37th), and Rose Sheridan (62nd). Katie Armstrong (65th) was the Rams' No. 5 runner to help clinch the team title.
Madison Perez was all-state (Top 25) for Lakes in 21st followed by Wauconda's Jessie Pakaski (31st), Lakes' Paige-Elicia Caruth (38th), Carmel Catholic's Izzy Bing (42nd), and Lakes' Madison Twarling (49th).
"All seven girls had a great day so we were really happy with six lifetime PRs," said Vernon Hills coach Suzanne Curry. "The whole team comes back, they are happy with a third-place finish, and they know how close they were to second."
In Class 3A, Oak Park's Josephine Welin (16:26) held off Negovetich by less than three seconds for first place while Lake Zurich junior Brooke Johnston had a fantastic third-place finish. Warren's Mia Pasha placed sixth while Lake Zurich's Kristin Loftus was all-state in 22nd. Bree Ponchak was Libertyville's top runner in 64th.
"I'm still in shock a little bit. I knew I wanted to put myself in a position to win, and I did what I wanted to do," said Negovetich. "The first mile probably went out a little faster than I expected, and I was really happy to break my string of fourths."
Grant coach Jeff Durlak could not have been happier for his top runner, who he will miss dearly going forward.
"Aly ran a 5:29 last mile so she made up a lot of ground to get close," Durlak said. "She had a 16:29 which was her best time by one second."