Anne Zaher was the star of the Hinsdale Regional (Tony Jones photo)
There wasn’t much to it on Saturday. No excuses, no drama, and no big storyline. It was just survive and move on. Such was the case at the Hinsdale Central Regional where the favored boys and girls teams lined up and put in their three-miles in a workman like mentality.
#2 Hinsdale Central had an easy time in winning the Hinsdale Central Regional in which they hosted without ace sophomore Alexa Haff who sat another meet to rest a nagging injury. The Red Devils scored a scant 26 points to turn back #17 Downers Grove North who copped 41 points. #19 Downers Grove South took third with 61 points. #23 Lyons Township easily outdistanced Morton for fourth place 106-156.
Anne Zaher (Jr.) stepped up mightily in Haff's absence to win her first major cross country title with ease. Zaher immediately took the lead in the first 200m and never looked back. Zaher used the same aggressiveness against a decent field that she deployed in winning last spring’s state 1600m title. She hit the first and second miles in 5:39 and 11:44 respectively. Zaher kept the momentum going in the final mile and won comfortably in 17:57. Her freshman teammates Grace McCabe and Reilly Revord completed the 1-2-3 sweep running 18:00 and 18:05.
The battle between #1 Hinsdale Central, #4 Lyons Township, and #17 Downers Grove North was a little more compelling. No matter who would have won, this race was the pre-stage for what is expected to be a pre-state meet next weekend.
Downers Grove North bounced back from a disappointing fifth place finish in the West Suburban Conference (Silver) meet last weekend to take second scoring 51 points. It looked like for a long while that the Trojans was going to upset Hinsdale Central. After DGN senior super ace Ryan Clevenger put away the competition with ease in 14:51, his teammates Alec Danner (So.) and Zach Christensen (Sr.) virtually matched the Red Devils with their fourth and eighth place finishes (15:25 and 15:39). And despite Hinsdale Central coach Jim Westphal losing a key contributor in Nathan Hill (Jr.) to a DNF (twisted ankle during race) as well as resting his #1 and #3 runners Chris Brenk (Jr.) and Matt McBrien (Sr.), his troops were able to successfully defend their title with 44 points. “It was a close race as I expected. We were trying to get through this [regional] healthy and on to sectionals,” said Westphal.
Lyons Twp. finished third with 59 points but they held out several top runners in Alex Lima (Sr.) and Vince Arata (Sr.). Zach Szczesniak (Sr.) and Vince Zona (So.) led the way with seventh and ninth place efforts logging 15:34 and 15:51. The Lions should be at full strength in next weekend’s mega Chicago (Marist) Sectional. The state’s top four rated teams will battle for supremacy.
Clevenger nearly broke the Katherine Legge course record which is 14:50. After setting the tone from the onset, Clevenger logged 4:44 and 9:52 for the first two miles. He began to shut it down after leading by 17 secs and cruising over Hinsdale Central sophomore Blake Evertsen who finished second. “Hinsdale [Central] has a lot of talent and I didn’t want to get caught in their pack,” one of several points that Clevenger elaborated on regarding his winning effort. After Evertsen it was Downers Grove South junior Jack Lelonde who ran 15:24. Lelonde stayed ahead of Danner and senior Josh Feldman of Hinsdale Central in the end.