April 21, 2024
Illinois High School Sports

Cross country: Laces tight, Lily Eddington takes 3rd, helps Downers Grove North win Twilight race

Downers Grove North boys complete title sweep in varsity race

Downers Grove North’s Lily Eddington catches Naperville North’s Juie Piot at the finish line of the Naperville Twilight Cross Country meet at Naperville North High School on Wednesday night, October 4, 2023. They placed third and fourth.

NAPERVILLE – Downers Grove North sophomore Lily Eddington kept her game plan pretty simple for the Naperville Twilight Cross Country Invitational on Oct. 4.

Yes, Eddington had a race strategy, but she stayed focused on one particular yet very important requirement needed to post a top time at Naperville North High School – making sure her shoes stayed on throughout the race.

“Last year, I ran here and lost my shoe,” Eddington said. “It wasn’t my best day. I did finish, but it was a rough one. I wanted to do better than last year. I did tie my shoe really tight.”

With her shoes laced tightly, Eddington made a burst in the final 30 yards to overtake Naperville North senior Julie Piot and finish in third place in a time of 17 minutes, 37.90 seconds. Her strong showing was part of a memorable night for Downers Grove North.

The Trojans finished with three runners in the top 10 to win the 18-team meet with 37 points, easily outdistancing second-place finisher Naperville North (103 points), Naperville Central (123), Minooka (162) and Lyons (169).

On the boys side, Downers Grove North completed the sweep with a dominating effort, tallying 81 points to capture the team title. Naperville Central finished fourth with 156 points, edging out Neuqua Valley (163).

Hinsdale Central star senior Aden Bandukwala shook a late charge by three runners to win the boys race, hitting the tape in a time of 14:51.

In the girls race, Downers Grove North coach Tim McDonald called it a team effort.

“I thought the girls ran great,” McDonald said. “They got themselves out in great position and held it from there. They worked together and passed who they needed to pass. Overall, one through nine, they just came out and competed. It was fun.”

McKenzie Williard placed fifth for Downers Grove North in a time of 17:52. Sarah Paul claimed 10th (18:16).

Downers Grove North’s Ryan Eddington, left, and Grant Schroder battle to the finish at the Naperville Twilight Cross Country meet at Naperville North High School on Wednesday night, October 4, 2023.

Eddington said it was a memorable night for her entire family. Her brother, senior Ryan Eddington, crossed the finish line in a time of 15:14 to place eighth in the boys race.

“I felt really good going out fast and stuck behind the leaders and once I got to the track and hit that two-mile mark, I just really tried to push it until the end,” Lily Eddington said. “When I hit the turf, I gave everything I had to pass [Piot]. I’m happy with how I did, but I think I could’ve done better. It was really cool here. Everyone from my family was here.”

In one of the best girls races in recent years because of a high number of ranked individuals and teams, Latin junior Mia Kotler stole the show by cruising to a first-place medal in a time of 17:01. Naperville Central senior Liv Phillips placed second (17:12), praising Kotler for pushing her throughout the race.

“It was a perfect night to race with perfect conditions, so I was excited to get on this course and run against really good competition,” Phillips said. “I’ve raced her since my freshman year, but it was so good to have experience in this atmosphere. I wanted to take that first part of the race conservative and ran a good first mile and let the race unfold from there.”

Piot said she was hoping to run a better time, but added she was pleased with her finish.

“Personally, it wasn’t what I wanted, but I got fourth, so I’m happy about that,” Piot said. “I wanted to get a personal record [time]. I didn’t even see the [Downers Grove North girl], but I’m still happy with how I ran. I tried to push harder on the turns and get some momentum. I just wanted to go out there and try my best in the beginning to see where I would finish in the race.”

Wheaton Warrenville South junior Nicole Poglitsch ran a stellar race on the warm night, falling just short of a top-five finish with a sixth-place time of 17:55.

“I felt it was a good race,” Poglitsch said. “I gave up a little bit of the race in the middle. I kept with the girls. It was good to learn from this race. I think I learned I have to stick with people.”

Bandukwala certainly felt at home running a portion of the race on the track. He won the Class 3A state 1,600-meter final on a track in May.

“I was worried about that gravel coming on the track, but I knew I had to run hard tonight and push myself,” Bandukwala said. “It was a good race.”

Neuqua Valley rode the one-two punch of Zac Close and Robert Glenn to a strong showing, with Close placing third (14:55) and Glenn collecting a fourth-place medal (14:57). Before the start of the race, Glenn, a senior, said he wasn’t sure how he would perform.

“Throughout the day, I was mentally getting ready for the race,” Glenn said. “I just went out there and had fun and tried to help out the team. I didn’t expect to place where I did. I was hoping anywhere from 15th to 20th.

“I was going out pretty hard in the first mile and wondered if I was going to die, but didn’t and kept pushing myself. I kept thinking about how cool it would be to finish in the top five during the race. It feels very good.”

Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network