WINFIELD – If you’re not gonna catch out-of-this-world York, you might as well grab the next best thing — second place.
That was the attitude of the Glenbard West girls cross country team at Saturday’s Wheaton North Falcon Classic held at St. James Farm in Winfield.
The defending Class 3A state champion York Dukes ran away with the team title at the flighted race, but the Hilltoppers took big strides and finished second with a score of 27.
York tallied a ridiculous score of 8, winning the first six flights before Bria Bennis placed second to Hersey star Anna Harden in the top flight. Loyola was third, Oswego East fourth (40), and Hersey and Wheaton North each came next at 45 with the Huskies awarded fifth in the team standings by virtue of placing higher in the championship flight.
“We didn’t have an invite the last two weeks so we spent that time focusing on training and we wanted to come out and show something today and we did that,” Hilltoppers coach Paul Hass said. “We saw a lot of these teams at Peoria [Notre Dame] and they were ahead of us ... I just wanted to see if we could be a lot closer to them in the first five places and we did that today.”
Glenbard West’s flighted race times formed a solid pack, with six runners finishing in the top five of their respective flights, and junior Maggie Hibbard taking eighth in the loaded top flight with a time of 18:30.9. Highlights included Carlin Hass’ third-place showing in Flight 2 and another third turned in by Maddie Morgan.
“York is in another stratosphere but to be second to York, is pretty good. We were second in JV, second in fresh-soph and second in Flight which is pretty good,” Hass said. “My daughter Carlin, she’s has been sick all year but she had a good workout during the week so I put her in the second flight, and she proved me right. We took a step forward today at all levels which was good to see. It was a good day for us.”
The championship flight paired Harden and Bennis against one another for the third straight week. The talented runners ran stride for stride for the first 2 miles before Harden broke away to win with a stellar 16:54.6. Bennis clocked a 17:03.4 and Benet Academy’s Louisa Diamond was third at 17:47.9.
“It was definitely a really fast race,” said Bennis, who hopes to lead the Dukes to yet another state title this fall. “There’s some pinpoint turns and during the course it’s a lot of weaving through. My goal was just kind of to run the tangents and go as fast as I could. Anna Harden is obviously one of the best runners in the state, so my goal is definitely to stay with her as long as possible.
“I do like to take it out fast so I was going to run my own race but also try and stick with her. She kind of took off once we hit the last mile, but yeah I just had to keep her in my sight and keep moving.”
Harden missed the early part of the season due to an illness, but has raced in three big meets the last three weeks. She took second to Glenbard North’s Grace Schager at the Peoria Notre Dame meet and then won the Palatine Invite.
“This is just my second time running the course and it’s definitely different with most of it being in the woods and there aren’t many fans in the woods,” the Hersey senior all-stater said.
“I think Bria and I were together for the first 2 miles. I kind of let her test me. I was hoping for a little more conservative [start] but she took it out ... we’re competing so I just ran with her and then went for it with a mile left. My legs were a little tired but I felt strong. My form, I’ve been working on my form and it feels stronger and I feel smoother over all.”
St. Charles East junior Marley Andelman was fifth in the championship flight with a time of 18:04.9 while Oswego East’s Morgan Dick placed seventh in 18:24.8.
For Redwings senior Diamond, Saturday was a great tuneup for the postseason. After helping Benet win a 2A state title as a freshman, her and her teammates are now competing in 3A for a second straight year.
“I felt good. I think it’s perfect running weather, and it was nice to have everyone out there cheering me on,” said Diamond, who set a goal of making all-state this season. “Normally when you run you can’t cheer everyone on but here with 1 through 7 varsity you can cheer each other on.”
Wolves coach Lisa Cook liked the way her team ran. Sophomore Olivia Van Denend and Meghan Johnson each took third in their flights.
“We were pretty consistent across most of them (flights),” Cook said. “We were kind of in that second to seventh range in most of the flights. Real strong. We knew it was going to be York out ahead of the pack and then it was a race behind the race.
“We were hoping to be in that pack ... we love coming here and seeing how everyone does solo. And my favorite part is coming back and getting everyone together and see what they learned. See the changes and how it effects their next race and how they appreciate their teammates a little bit more. There’s a lot going on. It’s kind of frantic but it’s a lot of fun.”
York’s Michaela Quinn won Flight 2 with a time of 17:55.1. Wheaton North’s Maddie Romaine was fifth in the race (18:58.7).
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