Cross country: Crystal Lake South girls win Kaneland sectional
Prairie Ridge senior Rachel Soukup looked strong and almost fresh as she crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of everyone else at the Class 2A Kaneland cross country sectional on Saturday morning.
Soukup continued on her season-long tear with her first sectional title.
"I was just trying to stay strong throughout the whole thing," said Soukup, who led the Wolves to fourth place and a team berth at next Saturday's state meet. "Go out strong and keep it. Back by the track each time I passed that spot I tried to put in more of a kick.
"I think I could have gone faster in the last mile. It's going to fuel me for next week."
It was a banner day for Fox Valley Conference runners at that meet as Crystal Lake South's girls won their third consecutive sectional championship, edging Crystal Lake Central by the sixth-place runner tiebreaker after the two tied with 93 points. Prairie Ridge (123) and Cary-Grove (128) finished fourth and fifth to also qualify.
The top seven teams, along with the top 10 runners not on those teams, advance to the state meet at Peoria's Detweiller Park.
South finished second in the Class 2A girls team standings at state last season. Central and Prairie Ridge also finished in the top 10 a year ago.
Prairie Ridge's boys took third at 139, with Crystal Lake Central (170) and Woodstock (173) taking fifth and sixth. Central and Woodstock are making repeat trips to state.
Soukup ran in 17:11.57, with Central's Hadley Ferrero (17:44.91) in second, Nazareth's Colette Kinsella (17:50.62) in third and South's Bella Gonzalez (18:12.48) in fourth.
"It's exciting, and a little nerve-racking," South coach Ken Greenfield said. "The four district schools are so tough. Our pack running was key. Everybody front to back fought for it.
"I wouldn't say everybody had their best races across the board, but they really competed hard. Anna (McDermott) didn't have her best race, but she was good enough to get that sixth-runner tiebreaker. I was really pleased with her effort."
Abby Machesky was 19th for the Gators, Olivia Pinta was 22nd, Gianna Pinta was 23rd and Victoria Pinta was 29th. McDermott was 39th, while Central's sixth runner was 71st.
"We've been training pretty hard and working because we want to have a shot at getting top in state again," Gonzalez said. "We put a lot of trust in each other. Before every race we have a team huddle, today we were talking about doing it for each other."
C-G was led by Ada Saletnik and Jocelyn Onstot in sixth and seventh place. Central's Brynn Matthei was 14th and Annie Ferrero was 17th, and Prairie Ridge's Brenna Benjamin was 11th and Olivia McPherson was 13th.
Fenwick's Bella Daley took fifth, Riverside-Brookfield's Bryce Pacourek and Gianna Gelb were ninth and 10th, Burlington Central's Abby Burke took 20th and Hinsdale South's Abby Peterson was 30th to qualify individually.
St. Francis was sixth and Nazareth was seventh to take the last two team spots.
In the boys race, Prairie Ridge's Will Gelon took fourth, Crystal Lake Central's Karson Hollander was fifth, Burlington Central's Ryan Kries was sixth, Kaneland's Evan Nosek was seventh and C-G's Jameson Tenopir was 11th.
"Will had his best race of the season," Wolves coach Judd Shutt said. "He's been waiting to finish a race really strong in the last 800. He was looking for that final kick that makes a guy smile. He came through with that one today."
Gelon edged out Hollander just before the finish line, beating him by less than 1 second.
"Maybe a mile or three-quarters in, I started to fall off the pack," Gelon said. "I told myself to stay with them and kick that last mile really hard. I had a thought going through my mind, 'The person who says you can or you can't are both right.' I told myself I could to his, keep pushing and I got fourth. I'm very happy."
R-B won the boys race with 93 points. Glenbard South (149) was fourth and Fenwick (176) was seventh to also qualify as teams.
Kries, Nosek, Tenopir and Marmion's John Daffenberg (14th) and Connor Carlson (26th) all grabbed individual spots.
Tenopir, a freshman, has constantly improved throughout the season.
"I'm pretty excited about that," Tenopir said. "The first mile was pretty fast. But I think I held the pace pretty well. I thought about I needed to make it to state, stay with this pack right here. I beat quite a few guys who had better times than me going into this."