Fox Lake, IL
The Grant Regional welcomed twelve teams from across northern Illinois to compete at its hilly course on Saturday. The new IHSA postseason format with four Sectionals statewide instead of the usual five has tightened the competition level of Regionals. Not only are there more teams in each Regional, but only the top five teams will advance to the Hoffman Estates Sectional next weekend at Busse Woods. There is no room for any team to slack off.
The meet was run in three flights of each gender. Flight one had the first, second, and third runners of each team; flight two had the fourth and fifth runners of each team; and flight three had the sixth and seventh runners.
The girl's races started off in the morning. The key teams to watch out for will be Lake Forest, Cary-Grove, Libertyville, and Warren. Top individuals include Aly Negovetich of Grant and Skyler Kreunen of Lake Forest. During the first mile, Negovetich separates herself from the rest of the girls and cruises into a moderate 5:42 split. Kreunen is maintaining second in 5:55. A chase pack of Maggie Mason of Cary-Grove, Audrey Luell of Zion-Benton, and Isabella Marsico of Lake Forest is just 11 seconds behind Kreunen.
Over the course of the second mile, Negovetich pulls even farther away, running 11:38, 26 seconds ahead of Kreunen who remains in second through 12:14. 18 seconds behind Kreunen is her teammate, Marsico, who is pulling away from the chase pack in order to score the fewest points possible for her team. Negovetich is flying solo as she approaches the finish line, and cruises to a 17:33 win on her home course. Kreunen earns second in 18:28, with teammate Marsico third in 18:42. Kreunen and Marsico are a lethal duo for the Scouts.
On the team side, Cary-Grove's depth aids them to a close win over
Lake Forest and Warren. The Trojans earned 74 points, with the Scouts second in
80, and the Blue Devils third in 89. Also moving onto Sectionals are
Libertyville in fourth place and Zion-Benton, who earned fifth.
The weather warmed by about ten degrees heading into the boy's races. Warren is the favorite team coming into the meet, but Libertyville could have a chip on their shoulder after getting third to Warren last week at the NSC Conference by four points. The two individual standouts in this race are Jason Polydoris of Highland Park and Luke Wiley of Warren. Approaching the first mile is a pack containing nearly every boy in the race. Led by Jack Hamilton of Libertyville, the guys cruise through in a conservative 5:18.
Wiley breaks away in the second mile, and Polydoris comes along with him. They run through in 10:30, meaning their second mile was a negative split of 5:12. 10 seconds back, the chase pack is comprised of Colton Romig of Grant, Ian Barnes of Cary-Grove, Liam Tucker of Libertyville, and Nate Wehner of Highland Park.
In the third mile, Wiley continues charging ahead and runs another remarkable negative split of 4:56. He cruises to the biggest win of his career in 15:26 on Grant's tough course. Polydoris is second in 15:46. Barnes and Tucker are in a finishing kick battle to the end in which Barnes prevails, and they both run 15:59 for third and fourth place, respectively.
Libertyville boys upset Warren for the win with an impressive team performance. The Wildcats placed five in the top 17 to garner just 49 points. The Blue Devils are second with 61 points. Also moving onto the Hoffman Estates Sectional next week are Highland Park, Grant, and Cary-Grove.
The teams from the Grant Regional will face cutthroat competition next weekend at Busse Woods. They did an excellent job facing adverse conditions, and I wish them the best of luck as they head into the last IHSA-sanctioned meet of the season.