Cross Country: Dan Watcke closes fast for individual title, paces Hinsdale Central to first WSC Silver crown since 2014
No. 1-ranked York girls capture second straight Silver title
By Bill Stone
Downers Grove North senior Roy Llewellyn did everything possible to win the West Suburban Silver meet Saturday.
Fifth in 2020, Llewellyn maintained a sizable lead most of the race trying to neutralize the kick of Hinsdale Central junior Dan Watcke, the defending 3A state champion in the 800-meter run.
“You need at least an 800-meter gap if you want to hold him off. That kid is crazy,” Llewellyn said. “I tried to at least make him work for it.”
Just before the final stretch, Watcke passed Llewellyn and prevailed 15:33 to 15:36.89 on the 5K course at Lyons Township that helped the Red Devils capture their first Silver championship since 2014.
“It means a lot to finally win conference on varsity,” said Watcke, who trailed by seven seconds with 1,200 meters left. “I got third last year. That was disappointing. I thought I had a chance of winning. It was a little too windy there (at Camera Park).”
Rated No. 1 in 3A since the preseason, the York girls captured their second straight Silver title with 34 team points with their top five runners among the top nine runners overall.
York was regarded as last year’s best 3A team but there was no IHSA-sanctioned state meet because of COVID-19. The 2020 Silver meet was varsity only with combined results from two five-entry flight races.
“(This title) definitely feels more lively. It’s more fun because all of the parents are out here cheering and all of our team is here,” said York senior Katelyn Winton. “We are very excited for (the postseason) after winning this.”
The state’s best conference has six girls teams rated in the top 15 in 3A by both or either ILXCTF.com and IL.Milesplit.com and returned 13 of the 16 all-conference finishers from 2020. Four boys teams are 3A top 10 in both polls with six 2020 all-conference returnees.
Glenbard West senior Audrey Allman finished second (17:41.85) to Oak Park-River Forest senior Josephine Welin (17:34.34), the state’s 2020 top runner. Allman was third the previous two seasons to the likes of Welin and 2020 Glenbard West graduate Katelynne Hart, arguably the state’s greatest girls distance runner.
“Place doesn’t really matter to me that much,” Allman said. “It’s funny. My mom was just mentioning that I’m always the bridesmaid (in the Silver). More so (it’s) how I and the team feels and going into this state series month positive, happy and healthy.”
OPRF (83), Hinsdale Central (86), LT (89) and Glenbard West (92) were separated by nine points. Downers Grove North (107) was sixth.
Hinsdale Central junior Catie McCabe (third, 18:01.77) edged York junior Bria Bennis (fourth, 18:02.02) at the finish. Winton, York sophomores Katherine Klimek and Michaela Quinn and junior Brooke Berger were sixth through ninth. Sophomore Maggie Owens was 11th.
“(All-conference is) definitely not easy,” said Bennis, fifth in 2020. “Our conference is one of the best. We’re lucky to have such good competition.”
Winton has improved from 18th as a freshman to 14th and seventh in 2020.
“It is very accomplishing. I’m very excited for our team and I feel like I’ve improved over the years,” Winton said.
LT junior Catherine Sommerfeld (5th, 18:06.01), ninth in 2020, and sophomore Shannon Cranny (14th) were all-conference along with Glenbard West senior Anna Nickoley (10th), Downers North junior Claire Pyne (13th) and sophomore Sydney Hnatiuk (16th) and Hinsdale Central junior Sarah Fischer (15th).
“It’s a really competitive conference so it’s reassuring knowing that training’s paying off and I’m in a good spot right now,” Sommerfeld said.
The Hinsdale Central boys (40) won over LT (55), defending champion Downers North (59), York (92), OPRF (93) and Glenbard West (170). Hinsdale Central senior Colby Revord (15:40.66) and LT senior Charlie McLawhorn (15:47.92) were third and fourth.
“I wanted to win (especially at home). I usually finish strong, my last mile usually my fastest. I didn’t have it today,” McLawhorn said.
Other all-conference runners were the Red Devils’ Aiden Bandukwala (7th) and Jesse Gamboa (12th), the Lions’ Cillian Henning (8th), Finn Gallagher (10th) and Hayden Constas (15th), Downers North senior Karan Shetty (6th), sophomore Caden Weber (9th) and junior Topher Ferris (13th) and York seniors Jeff Luka (11th) and Garrett Schwan (16th).