Cross country: Palatine boys, Prospect girls win MSL titles
After 13 years directing the Palatine girls cross country program, Joe Parks switched over to the Pirates boys program last fall.
And there was no switch in the results from his first years with the boys.
Led by individual champion Mason Krieg, the Pirates won their second straight Mid-Suburban League crown Saturday at the Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine (meet was hosted by Fremd).
Krieg, a senior, rallied past Buffalo Grove's Mario Torres in an exciting final 20 yards to stop the timer at 15:05.7 ahead of Torres (15:06.5).
The Pirates finished with five runners in the top 11 for a score of 42, ahead of Barrington (64), Hersey (78) and Conant (81).
"They're (MSL title) not easy, that's for sure," said Parks, whose other all-conference team was Krieg's freshman brother Alexander (sixth), Elliot Owen (10th), Andy Hansen (11th) and Jack Casaccio (14th).
"This conference is tough," Parks added. "There are some really good teams so any time you come out on top you feel fortunate. It's nice that this is our home course but everyone in the conference is pretty comfortable at this course. Sometimes I worry if it's a disadvantage if we run here but it certainly helped today."
Hansen missed time this season due to injury.
"He has worked his tail off to get where he is fitness-wise," Parks said. "And he is a strong leader as a junior. When he is running well, we are a different team."
It was a different experience for Mason Krieg this year as opposed to last when he was ill leading up to the meet and finished 10th.
"I was sick around this time last year so this was a big improvement," said Krieg, who credits his Winston Campus Junior High School coach Alex Soto with helping boost his running career after he decided to concentrate on cross country over soccer.
Krieg was running about fourth or fifth for most of the race.
"I think at about the two-mile mark he (Torres) started to pull away," Mason said. "I just tried to do my best and stay as close as I could. I wouldn't say I was confident I'd catch him but I knew I had a chance. With about a quarter mile left, I was probably four or five second space and I just went for it. I really wanted it."
"Mason is just a hard worker who never misses a practice," Parks said. "Hopefully he can stay healthy and do bigger things in the next few weeks. His brother (Alexander) is a pretty special kid. He is a kid getting used to the varsity ropes now, He's used to dominating races as a lower level. He is learning quick."
Barrington's second-place finish was sparked by all-conference performances from Joe Bregenzer (third, 15:13.7), Manasyu Chaudhari (ninth), Ethan Scott (12th), Avery Erickson (16th) and Max Lewis (24th).
"I was pleased with our effort," said Broncos coach Tom Root. "We've been trying to run a great team race and we didn't have that quite today, Palatine ran an extremely impressive team race with (Mason) Krieg doing his thing at the front and their entire pack was behind our seventh going into the mile and they worked their way up through. It was incredibly mature and just impressive to watch.
"Joe (Bregenzer) is a sophomore and he's a special one in that he is looking to be the absolute best. He is learning how to race and to get third in his first varsity MSL meet says a lot."
All-conference runners for coach Kevin Young's third-place finishing Huskies were Rob Geissenberger (seventh), Zach Frayder (eighth), Liam Naughton (20th), AJ Svienty (21st) and Mateus Salomao (22nd).
Other all-conference runners were Conant's Vijay Krishnamoorthi (fourth), Fremd's Rory Gaan (fifth), Conant's Connor Ariunbat (13th), Prospect's Luka Kuzmanovic (15th), Prospect's Andrew Katsogianos (17th), Conant's Gaven Coprin (18th), Conant's Jayden Patel (19th), Schaumburg's Christian Haywood (23rd) and Fremd's Mathew Jones (25th).
Prospect's girls team, which placed seven runners in the top 10, and Hersey senior Anna Harden, continued their dominating run in the MSL meet.
The Knights won a fifth straight crown with a score of 25, well ahead of Barrington (74), Hersey (76) and Palatine (100).
Harden won for a third straight year in a thrilling finish. She hit the wire in 17:00.9 just ahead of Barrington's Scout Storms (17:01.6).
Prospect took the next five spots with Veronica Znajda (17:14.6), Hailey Erickson (17:20.3), Lily Ginsberg (17:29.0), Meg Peterson (17:35.4) and Cameron Kalaway (17:55.9).
Palatine's Abigail Jordan was eighth followed by Prospect's Samantha Patterson (ninth) and Ireland Wildhart (10th).
Completing the all-conference list in order from 11th to 25th were Hersey's Margaretha Grabske, Wheeling's Brenda Torres, Barrington's Kaleigh Burns, Hersey's Mackenzie Ginder, Fremd's Amanda Markham, Barrington's Samantha Rowley, Barrington's Claire Thome, Buffalo Grove's Jenna Pullega, Hersey's Madeline Bialko, Rolling Meadows' Colette Lampa, Palatine's Ruth Hall, Palatine's Katelyn Whitcomb, Fremd's Isabella Hasty, Palatine's Monika Urbaniak and Hoffman Estates' Maya Zabiegly.
"We came out here with one intention and that was to try and win a conference title and represent Prospect the best we could and they got the job done." said Knights coach Pete Wintermute. "Veronica (Znajda), a sophomore, got out there and was running with Anna Harden and Scout Storms, some of the best kids in the state and she was with them until about the two and a quarter mark. She got gapped a little but it was kind of a fearless effort for her. One of the things we talked about is that if you've got a chance to win it, this is the day you are going to win it individually and as a team."
That meant a lot to seniors Erickson and Kalaway.
"It's really fun being able to do this with my best friend (Kalaway) for all four years," Erickson said. "We've won it every single year and it's really cool to be with our teammates and to go out there and just give it our all."
"The years before we came here the program had some successful years at conference, regionals and stuff like that," Kalaway added. "So all four years we've had such a good team environment, We are all confident in our abilities and in each other."
Wintermute couldn't have been prouder.
"It's just a hardworking group," the veteran coach added. "And Monday, we'll get back to work and get ready for the state series."
Harden will go into the state series for the third straight time as a MSL champ.
"It feels great," said Harden, who was 25th in the state meet last fall. "Having won it the last two years I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself to win this one. I had some great competition today, I don't think there is a more competitive conference than the MSL. Having all the Prospect girls and Scout (Storms) out there, it was great running with them. Scout really pushed me the last mile. We were going back and forth and in the last 200 meters I said "Lord please, give me the strength to finish this," and He did, so glory to God."