#1 Naperville N Girls, St. Charles E Boys Roll To State Meet

The girls highlights pretty showed the dominance of Naperville North


St. Charles, IL-

Frosty Saturday mornings are typically reserved for cartoon watching, chores, or sleeping in. But at precisely 9am, it was time for the begin sectional play and get some of the best distance runners qualified for the state championship.

As one of the nation's elite cross country programs, there is never a time to downplay the competition


The top-ranked and three-time defending state champion Naperville North squad was ready for business. After resting several runners during last weekend's Oswego East Regional, head coach Dan Iverson did not play around in a very serious situation. His pre-race speech was a reassurance that nothing can be taken for granted. 

Shortly after the starter's pistol went off, the race to finish line was on and the Huskies completely suffocated the field. The field conditions may have limited a faster opening pace but junior Maggie Gamboa got well and led the charge for her team. All five scorers were among the top 15 and if anyone had faltered the sixth and seventh runners would have picked up the slack and continued the domination. For perspective, if the Huskies were assessed a handicap with seven runners to score, they would have finished third overall with 94 points!

#6 Batavia is running well despite placing a satellite distant second but significantly ahead of #7 Oswego. Led by sophomore Katrina Schlenker's third-place finish, the Bulldogs pulled three two other girls inside the top 10. Junior Jenna Schifferer and senior Mia Gianfrancesco got the job done. Now it will be up to the back end of the scorers to improve before next Saturday if this team hopes to finish in the top five. In collecting fourth overall, the Panthers avoided the pitfalls by using a strong second half to earn another berth to Peoria. Freshman Audra Soderlind placed 12th overall in 18:40.

The surprise of the day was Huntley. The unranked Red Raiders should not have been overlooked after winning the Hononegah Regional with ease. It was a strong pack running display that got the job done for a fierce group of ladies who pushed hard during the final mile. Senior Bailey Wilk led the way with a 23rd place finish.

It has been quite a while but the St. Charles East bunch is back in the state meet in nabbing the final spot. As a pre-season team, not much was given to them in terms of respect but the Saints leader junior Alice Abbott always believed in her teammates. "I really ran for my girls today... Coach [Bradley] Kaplan has really made this team his own," said Abbott who placed a strong fifth overall.

1Naperville North High School441+8+10+12+13 (15+35)1:00 1-5 Split | 18:26 Avg
2Batavia High School852+5+9+31+38 (40+53)1:24 1-5 Split | 18:47 Avg
3Oswego High School11811+17+19+20+51 (72+87)1:12 1-5 Split | 19:06 Avg
4Huntley High School15722+24+30+37+44 (71+81)0:35 1-5 Split | 19:20 Avg
5St. Charles East High School1794+23+32+58+62 (70+75)1:52 1-5 Split | 19:26 Avg


Individually, Gamboa sub-consciously has put her name in the elite category this upcoming weekend after a dominating performance. If not for the extreme sloppy conditions, we might have seen a sub 17:00 performance. Gamboa was well ahead of Schlenker and senior Ashley Heidenrich of Waubonsie Valley. At two miles, Gamboa was at 12:17 and appeared to be cruising along. As calculated, Gamboa would cruise home well ahead of the field in 17:44.

1Maggie Gamboa11Naperville North High School17:44.001
2Ashley Heidenrich12Waubonsie Valley High School18:02.000
3Katrina Schlenker10Batavia High School18:08.002
4Sophia Sandy12Metea Valley High School18:16.003
5Alice Abbott11St. Charles East High School18:19.004
6Jenna Schifferer11Batavia High School18:21.005
7Naomi Ruff10South Elgin High School18:22.006
8Rachel Price10St. Charles North High School18:24.007
9Molly Morton11Naperville North High School18:30.008
10Mia Gianfrancesco12Batavia High School18:32.009

Bob Liking and Jake Allen dueled for most of the race

On the other side of the ledger, there was not much resistance applied against the state's overall top team from St. Charles East. Without any "rah-rah" antics, the Saints pretty much got into the survive and advance mode. About halfway through the mud and cold, senior Bob Liking had most of his scoring teammates up front and they were able to easily maintain the dominating distance over runner-up Oswego East. It is hard to imagine such a great team to produce a 35-second scoring split.

Oswego East donned an old-school deceptive tactic in wearing neon green colored uniforms. Maybe they didn't want any particular team (s) keying off of them, but whatever the reason, the fashion statement was secondary to the great performance that the Wolves produced. Senior Luke Wentz led the way with an eighth-place finish. 

The new start Waubonsie Valley team bounced back from a shaky performance at regionals to earn a place in the state meet for the first time since 2007. The Warriors have relied on a very strong pack running plan this season. Though the scoring split was somewhat higher than in previous competitions, this squad ran tremendous during the final mile. 
Naperville Central earned the final berth to state after a strong collective performance led by Arthur Graham's sixth-place finish... for the first time in 19 years, there will be no Neuqua Valley team on the starting line. The Wildcats placed seventh overall in the final standings.

1St. Charles East High School291+4+5+8+11 (22+41)0:35 1-5 Split | 15:41 Avg
2Oswego East High School749+10+12+18+25 (26+27)0:21 1-5 Split | 15:59 Avg
3Naperville North High School902+13+19+20+36 (51+55)0:59 1-5 Split | 16:01 Avg
4Waubonsie Valley High School16314+21+34+35+59 (62+74)0:54 1-5 Split | 16:22 Avg
5Naperville Central High School1686+33+38+39+52 (68+78)1:07 1-5 Split | 16:23 Avg


It was easy street racing for Liking who seemed perfectly fine with Naperville North senior Jake Allen. Both had run together through two miles (10:17) before Liking began to pull away for the win. Allen's second place was a strong sign that he will be a strong top tier all-stater next weekend at Detweiller Park. Senior Ian Geisler of Huntley pulled away from sophomore Micah Wilson around the same time that Liking did from Allen. Overall, it was a very good field and it's possible that we may see all 10 finishers with all-state medals next weekend.

1Bob Liking12St. Charles East High School15:21.001
2Jake Allen12Naperville North High School15:28.002
3Ian Geisler12Huntley High School15:30.003
4Micah Wilson10St. Charles East High School15:39.004
5Aidan King12St. Charles East High School15:42.005
6Arthur Graham11Naperville Central High School15:44.006
7Nicolas Dovalovsky11Neuqua Valley High School15:45.007
8Zack Loomis11St. Charles East High School15:50.008
9Luke Wentz12Oswego East High School15:51.009
10Heriberto Alvarez12Oswego East High School15:53.0010