Once again the theme of the day was the weather. For the third weekend in a row, the oppressive heat dominated the talk at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve. It started when meet officials made a wise decision to change the meet schedule to avoid the extreme temperatures. The varsity boys and girls were able to go at a much earlier time than normal.
The boys race saw US#11 Louisville St. Xavier do a number on the Illinois competition. The Tigers are well accustomed to this meet, winning the team title in 2012 and placing second in '13 and '16. Kentucky's top ranked squad would not be denied this time as they got out reasonably well and out of trouble. Top man senior Patrick Schaefer moved to the front right away assuring that his team had a chance at becoming a low stick. Mundelein and Hinsdale South also had numbers in the mix during the early going.
The first mile pack was solid as a rock
The race started to unravel for any Illinois team thinking of the first place trophy as the out of towners from Kentucky began to pull away at two miles. Schaefer was still in the mix with the leaders and his teammates looked to have a scoring split around 15-20 seconds with less than a kilometer to go. Finally, the tally came in and St. Xavier and its strong all around game plan proved too strong for the field. The Tigers scored 97 points while putting all five scorers within the top 30. #5 Mundelein fought hard but settled for a solid runner up spot and a mild upset of #4 Hinsdale Central 159-170. The Mustangs ran their best race of the season dropping a season low scoring split of 15 seconds. #12 Plainfield South made a strong statement by taking fourth overall with 190 points.
Individually as expected there was not a clear cut favorite in the field coming in. However, there was enough talent to keep the fans on edge. The opening mile saw Alex Tam (Sr., Libertyville), Matt Blanco (Sr., Oswego East), Tommy Brady (Jr., Maine South), Wyatt McIntyre (Sr., Athens), Nicholas Laning (Sr., Barrington), and about four others going through in about 4:49-51. As the group snaked and meandered back west toward the cream of the crowd, they stayed intact. But at 2m, the group had split in half as they crossed in 9:56-57. Tam, Brady, McIntyre, and Laning were together. Schaefer was a few ticks back. The surprise of the season so far as been Chicago Francis Parker senior Jack McNabola. He had been lurking the entire race and began to shift with a mile to go. It appeared that he had a tremendous momentum behind him and this was the right time to use it.
The final stages of the race is the 400 that shoulders the inner drive and lined droves of fans cheering. Brady and Tam broke away from McIntrye and battled to the end. It would be Brady with the stronger kick getting the victory in 14:44. Tam settled for a swift 14:47. McIntrye stayed ahead of a Laning and McNabola to close out the top five.
Brett Chody led Melissa Manetsch in the late going, but did she hold on?
2A #1 Dunlap made their Chicagoland race debut a successful one. The Eagles were excited about their travels from central Illinois to Palatine. But keep in mind that this was a business trip and with such prominent teams as host #11 Palatine, #12 Lyons Township, Assumption of Louisville, KY, #6 Barrington, and fellow classification foe Vernon Hills who came in ranked third. It did not matter that 3A powers Yorkville and Wheaton-Warrenville South weren't here. They took their "A" teams elsewhere.
The opening pace appeared to be fast and it was Dunlap right front with freshman Campbell Petersen and senior Franny Verville. The Eagles entire top seven was under 6:00 and if they could hold it would be a blowout. Scrolling through the stream of athletes it did not appear to be any threats to the visitors. Barrington had a few numbers up front with senior Jocelyn Long and teammate freshman Molly Fitzpatrick intow. The Fillies pack was further back and Palatine was spread out in their own respect. Dunlap continued to race tough and coasted home with barely a stumble. The 77 points was issued with two top 10 finishes with Petersen and Verville. All five girls came home in the top 30. The statement was clearly made that Dunlap is the best in 2A and a strong argument they are a top three team in all of Illinois.
The race for the top girl saw several top runners in the state duel for the first time this season. Brett Chody (Sr., Lake Forest), Melissa Manetsch (Sr., Libertyville), last year's winner Kaitlyn Lacy (Sr., Louisville Male), Isabelle Sparreo (Sr., Stevenson), Peterson, Verville, and a few others rocked the first mile in 5:33. Fitzpatrick and Long were not far away and were probably holding back a bit.
The second mile slowed down a little bit to 11:36 with Chody and Manetsch broken apart from the rest of the pack. Then it was Petersen on an island followed by Long, Fitzpatrick, Lacy, and Sparreo all strung out with a mile to go.
Chody tried to shake Manetsch but the attempt failed. In fact, it was Manetsch who used a fifth gear and strutted home for the win in 17:32- six seconds ahead of Long who blazed past a fading Chody. Petersen and fellow freshman Fitzpatrick completed the top five in fine fashion.