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2013 First to the Finish Invitational Preview

Published by
DyeStatIL   Sep 13th 2013, 3:54am

By Michael Newman



The center of the Illinois high school cross country universe shifts, for the next two weekends at least, to Detweiller Park in Peoria. On Saturday, 167 schools will converge on this historic cross country course to check and see where they stand. Five of the six #1 rated teams in the state will run in each of the class races during the morning at the Det.


Here is a look at each of the six team races that will take place. The weather conditions should be excellent for what should be a day of great racing.


Girls 1A – 9:00 AM

Individual race – Even without fantastic freshman Anna Sophia Keller not in this meet (she will be racing at Shelbyville on Saturday), the spotlight could be on another freshman in this year first race of the day. Anne Marie Michel (University HS, Urbana) finished second to Keller last week at Chrisman, but she could be the one runner to beat in this race.


Last year’s third place finisher in 1A state Rachel Devereux (St. Teresa HS, Decatur) should, however, be the favorite here. The first two races of the year for Devereux have been on hilly courses. She could charge out to the early lead in this race. One runner that I will think that could push the pace is Deanna Deterding (Red Bud HS). She finished second two weeks ago at the Edwardsville Debut. I a very curious to see how MaKayla Harder & Megan Bailey (Mt. Zion HS) will run. Harder finished fifth a week ago in Charleston and could be in the top 10 in this race. Do not forget about another duo Meagan McNicholas & Taylor Bartolozzi (Rochester HS). Both have been towards the front in their last two races. They could be in the top 5 as well.


Keeping on the duo theme, let us not forget to mention Lea Viano & Colleen Madden (Carlinville HS). Both have been racking up top five finishes and will be keys to their team’s success in the race. Hannah Houska & Emily Foley (Monticello HS) looked good in their debuts last week at Chrisman with Houska winning her flight.


There are some quality athletes in this race. Also watch for Katrina Liz (Aurora Central Catholic HS, Aurora), Jess Clarke (Tri Valley HS, Downs), Jilian Monier (Henry-Senchawine HS, Henry), Karyn Paisley (Macomb HS), Faith Weiland (Bloomington Central Catholic HS, Bloomington), Cheyenne Moore (Winnebago HS), and Maggie Arendt (Westmont HS).


Team Race – #1 Decatur St. Teresa, #2 Monticello, #3 Rochester, #5 Winnebago, #8 Downs Tri-Valley, #9 Carlinville, #11 Byron, #12 Eureka, #13 Henry-Senachwine, #15 Urbana University, #16 Macomb, #18 Mt. Zion, #19 Monmouth-Roseville, #21 Canton, #22 Elmwood-Brimfield, #23 Freeburg


The top three teams will do battle in what could be a preview of what could happen at the state meet in November. #1 Decatur St. Teresa has looked strong winning their first two invitationals at Edwardsville and Crystal Lake. Devereux is the front runner for this team but Audrey Vandercar and Bree Tschosik have progressed as the team’s two-three runners. Their split last week was 98 seconds. That should come down on the Detweiller Course.


#2 Monticello displayed their depth in winning five of the seven flights at the Chrisman Cowchip Classic. Houska and Foley will be the front runners, but they need to have six runners in before St. Teresa’s fifth in this race. #3 Rochester also ran a 98 seconds split at their own invitational last Saturday. Madeline Campbell has emerged in their top five giving the Rockets a stronger team. They could contend for the team title in this race.


With sixteen rated teams in this race, there will be many teams that will surprise. It makes sense because it is early in the season and most teams have run only one race. It will be interesting to see how #5 Winnebago performs. Last week at the Oregon Opener, Cheyenne Moore finished fourth. The question will be how close their pack will be to Moore. #9 Carlinville has been strong in the first three meets they have been in. They only have five runners on their girls’ team and will have 5 runners towards the front. The key is their split. It could hurt them in a big invitational like this.


Boys 1A – 9:40 AM

Individual Race – This will be a wide open race. There are two runners that I would keep an eye on though. Connor Ehnle (Tremont HS) ran a clunker of state race last year. Since November, he has showed that he is one of the top runners in 1A. His 15:13 run at Det at Dark at the end of July. He looked strong last week at Rochester winning his race by ten seconds. Curtis Reed (Mt. Zion HS) would be the other runner that I would keep a close eye on. Last week at the Charleston Invitational, Reed finished third behind 2A runners Johnny Leverenz (Danville HS) and Alex Keeble (Mahomet-Seymour HS, Mahomet). He should be up with Ehnle in this race.


Reed’s teammate Mohammed Hosseini did not run great last week but should be closer on Saturday. Daniel Plunkett (Pleasant Plains HS) could be the dark horse in this race even though he finished fifth last week at Rochester. Michael Gleason (Rochester HS) was third in that race and could push the pace as well.


Also watch in the front for Caleb Imig (Tremont HS), Nick Monkmeyer (Rockford Christian HS, Rockford), Alex Pettis (Henry-Senchawine HS, Henry), TJ Pitcock (Byron HS), Jacob Luby (El Paso-Gridley HS), and Ryan Van Dyke (Olympia HS, Stanford).


Team Race - #1 Elmwood-Brimfield, #4 Winnebago, #5 Rochester, #6 Tremont, #7 Pleasant Plains, #9 Mt. Zion, #10 Byron, #13 Monmouth-Roseville, #14 Monticello, #15 Rockford Christian, #17 Urbana University, #18 El Paso-Gridley, #19 Stanford Olympia, #20 Freeburg.


Winnebago was ranked near 20 last year. They then came to Detweiller and won this race. Could we see the same thing happen this year?


#1 Elmwood-Brimfield traditionally starts out slowly and peaks when it counts in November. Nate Herridge will be the front runner for this team. Last week they finished fifth at Canton with two of their key runners running on the lower level. They will be in the main race and will help this team. Watch for a tighter pack from this team. #4 Winnebago looked strong in the non-scored Oregon Opener last Saturday. Their team, led by Nathan Ambrose, ran a 26 second split on their first five. That kind of pack will repeat their win from a year ago.


#9 Mt. Zion has the strong front two in Reed and Hosseini. The question will be if their pack led by Noah Gingerich can get a little closer to those two. #5 Rochester, #6 Tremont, and #7 Pleasant Plains looked strong last week. One of these teams could sneak into the top three. The one team that could surprise from the back is #15 Rockford Christian. They do have the front runner in Monkmeyer. They had a 32 second split from 2-5. The key for them is to get under 60 seconds closer to Monkmeyer.


Girls 2A – 10:20 AM

Individual race - This will be the race of the day. One coach called it must see cross country. I agree with them. Skyler Bollinger (Yorkville HS, Yorkville) set the standard at the end of July when she ran 16:52 at Detweiller. Her first meet at the August was cancelled due to the hot weather. She could run a great time on Saturday with the cool weather that is expected to be at the park.


The one runner that will be her biggest competition is Mailin Struck (Riverside-Brookfield HS, Riverside). The foreign exchange student from Germany has turned heads in Illinois so far this year winning two races in spectacular fast fashion. Last Saturday at Lyons Township, she broke Emma Fisher’s course record by seventeen seconds running 16:50.


Maura Beattie (Woodstock HS) has looked strong in both of her races so far this season. Last week at Veteran Acres Park in Crystal Lake, the Woodstock senior won the race fairly comfortably. Her confidence may keep her in the mix on Saturday. Kelsey Schrader (DeKalb HS) finished second to Struck at the beginning of the month at Sycamore and could also be close to Bollinger and Struck.


Diane Lipa (Glenbard South HS, Glen Ellyn) finished second behind Struck last week at Lyons. She could also be in the pack as well. Sydney Billingsley (University HS, Normal) did not run in her first meet at Sycamore. If she runs, she will be towards the front as well. Other runners to watch in this race include Allie Sprague and Kitty Allen (Marengo HS), Brittney Fischer (Montini Catholic HS, Lombard), Allison Zobrist and Emily Holtzclaw (Highland HS), and Clare Garen (Lemont HS)


Team Race - #1 Yorkville, #2 Normal University, #3 Glenbard South, #5 Marengo, #10 Montini Catholic, #11 Dunlap, #14 Highland, #16 Woodstock, #17 Lemont, #19 Metamora, #20 Belvidere North, #21 Riverside-Brookfield, #22 DeKalb, #24 Nazareth Academy, #25 Morton


The 2A defending champs #1Yorkville should be the big favorite in the team race. Bollinger will be fighting for low points, but also expect Summer Pierson (if she runs), Erin Reynolds, and Kelsey Leedy to be towards the front. #2 Normal University had a strong four without Billingsley last week at Sycamore. Shannan Supan could be towards the front with her teammate. The Lady Pioneers rely on a tight pack. We could see that on Saturday.


Jayne Schlenker did not run her best race last week at Lyons for #3 Glenbard South. This team has a solid pack. With Schlenker running with Lipa towards the front, it makes this team much more dangerous. #5 Marengo did not run entire squad at the McHenry County Meet at the end of August. If Allen and Sprague can run in the top ten individually, this team could sneak into the top three teams.


Boys 2A – 11:00 AM

Individual race - This potentially could be a preview of some of the top runners in 2A. The key word is POTENTIALLY in that sentence. Defending 2A state champion John Wold (Glenbard South HS, Glen Ellyn) did not run last week at St. Charles. We should see him on the line on Saturday. Johnny Leverenz (Danville HS) in the last week won the Kicapoo Kickoff Classic and then Saturday won the Charleston Invitational with a 15:12 winning time. He will be the one guy that could push Wold.


Yorkville has not run a race yet this season. We should see all-state brothers Jake & Luke Hoffert up towards the front. Simon Thorpe (Dixon HS) had an off race last week at Pleasant Valley IA, but expect him to be towards the front as well.


JD Lafayette (University HS, Normal) looked strong in his first race of the year at Sycamore and could be the surprise in this race. Caleb Hummer (Danville HS) may be the other surprise Saturday. He is starting to come into his own. The big question of this race could be Joe Singleton (Glenbard South HS, Glen Ellyn). He is still recovering from an injury that hampered his track season. If he is healthy, he could be a factor in the race.


Other runners to watch in this race include Nick Fiene (Illiana Christian HS, Lansing), Zac Hird (Alleman HS, Rock Island), Luke Beattie (Woodstock HS), Cole Rodenberg (Waterloo HS), and Mark Stice (Sycamore HS).


Team Race - #1 Illiana Christian, #5 Yorkville, #6 Dixon, #7 Glenbard South, #9 Normal University, #11 Kaneland, #12 Metamora, #14 Rock Island Alleman, #15 Dunlap, #17 Waterloo, #18 Sycamore, #23 Grayslake Central, #25 Riverside-Brookfield

This race could cement Illiana Christian as the top 2A team in the state or it could keep us asking questions of who is the #1 team in this classification. Illiana ran a great team race last week in the Christian Schools Invitational in Michigan. Nick Fiene won the individual race. The 1-5 split on him was 41 seconds. They will be the team to watch. #5 Yorkville has questions that they hope to have answered in this race. They have the Hoffert brothers and Nolan Tweedy that will handle the first three spots. The question will be who will step up in the other two scoring spots.


#6 Dixon did not run all of their top seven last week at Pleasant Valley. If all are in this week along with Simon Thorpe having a great race could mean a team championship. #7 Glenbard South is a big question mark to see who will actually run. With Wold and Singleton functioning at 100%, this will be a tough team to stop. #9 Normal University pulled a surprise with their run at Sycamore. If JD Lafayette places in the top 5 along with top 20 finishes from Alex Bruno and Eli Hill could provide a top finish for this school.


3A Girls – 11:40 AM

Individual race – This race does not the top runners in the state like Perez and Smith. There is some good quality in this field. Lauren Van Vlierbergen (Jacobs HS, Algonquin) won at St. Charles by seventeen seconds. She looks like she is coming into the same shape that made her a top runner this year. She would be one runner that I would keep an eye on. Alexa Haff (Central HS, Hinsdale) was the big surprise last week when she won the Hornet Red Devil Invitational over such runners as Mimi Smith and Lindsay Graham. She ran the race not like a freshman but an experienced senior running with no fear. In this race, she will not be an unknown runner. The one runner that could win this race is Elly DeTurris (North HS, Naperville). She is thought to be the lead piece in the defending 3A champs top 7. She was all-state in track last spring running under 11:00 for 3200 meters. She is on the verge of being one of the elite runners in the state. She may do that on Saturday. 


Other runners to keep an eye on include Katie Hoffman (Central HS, Naperville), Julia Pena and Claire Costelloe (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville), Lauren Conroy (Barrington HS), McKenzie Altmayer (Geneva HS), and Lexy Rudofski (Lyons Township HS, LaGrange).


Team Race - #1 Naperville North, #6 Naperville Central, #11 Minooka, #12 Jacobs, #13 Lyons Township, #14 Geneva, #15 Lockport, #18 Hinsdale Central, #19 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #22 Neuqua Valley, #24 Barrington.


The big question will be if there will be any school other than #1 Naperville North having their final score in double digits. The Huskies have the pack that will be towards the front that could command the race. Their split last week was 36 seconds on their first five. Look for of the same on Saturday. They realistically could have all seven runners in the top 30 in this race. #6 Naperville Central looked strong last week at Hinsdale through 4 runners. Katie Hoffman should be in the top 10 but the Redhawks key for success is keeping a 35 second split on five.


I am interested to see a couple of things in this race. One would be how Hinsdale Central responds after last week. They did not score after losing two of their runners could not finish. If all of their top 7 is healthy, this team could place in the top 5. Also watch to see what Wheaton-Warrenville South does in this race. Last week, their top five runners would have come from the frosh/soph race. Will they be in the top seven this Saturday?


3A Boys – 12:20 PM

Individual race – The last race of the day could be a fast one especially with perfect conditions. Zack Smith (North HS, Downers Grove) will be one of the favorites in this race. Smith came off of an easy effort in winning at St. Charles last week even though he had to win the race in a sprint at the end. Billy Magnesen (Central HS, Hinsdale) controlled the last mile last week of the race that he won at KLM. He should be towards the front. Steven Salvano (Buffalo Grove HS) ran a great race at the beginning of last week against Zach Dale. He is in shape to pop a fast on in this race.


The one runner that could break up the Illinois parade is Calvin Kraft (Fishers IN). So far this year, he has run 15:32 for 5k. He is one runner that could handle the speed of the Detweiller course. Nick Bushelle (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville) is a veteran on this course and should be in the top five in this race. Austin Webster (United Township HS, East Moline) could be a dark horse in this race. He has the ability to be in the top five.


Other runners that I would watch include Ryan Clevenger (North HS, Downers Grove), Henry Hostettler (Lyons Township HS, LaGrange), Kerry Gschwendtner (North HS, Naperville), Joseph Emmanuel (North HS, Wheaton), Harry Winter (Fremd HS, Palatine), Will Giroux (Lockport HS), and Deivi Tahiraj (Mather HS, Chicago).


Team Race -  #3 Hinsdale Central, #6 Neuqua Valley, #7 Naperville North, #8 Lyons Township, #11 Downers Grove North, #12 Lincoln-Way Central, #16 Buffalo Grove, #19 Jacobs, #20 Edwardsville, #21 St. Ignatius, #22 Batavia, #24 Glenbard West, #25 Fremd, #5 Fishers IN


This is a wide open team battle with any number of six to seven schools capable of winning. #3 Hinsdale Central is the hot team in the state after winning their own invitational last weekend. They had a 60 second split which had an 18 second gap between 2-5. The 1 to 2 gap needs to be closer on Saturday. #6 Neuqua Valley could be the surprise in this race. Bushelle and Daniel Weiss ran tight together last week. Watch for their pack to get a little closer on Saturday.


#7 Naperville North is running in this meet for the first time in a few years and could come away with a win. Expect them to run with a tight pack led by Juniors Kerry Gschwendtner and Jon Klaiber. #8 Lyons Township did not run their best race last week at home somewhat caused by one of their front runners (Dan Lupano) not being able to finish. With everyone at full strength, this team runs with a tight pack and could be the surprise of the meet.


#11 Downers Grove North has the two front runners in Zack Smith and Ryan Clevenger. The key for them is to keep their 1-5 spread under 50 seconds for them to win. The team win may come from a school outside of the state. Fishers HS from Indiana is ranked #5 in their state. Calvin Kraft, their #1 runner, has the potential to place in the top 5 in this meet. Their split last Saturday was 59 seconds. This school could surprise.




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