2A Championship: Ava Parekh, Alex Partlow star in the arena

Ava Parekh flanked by Hadley Ferrero and Mary Grace Hegberg during the early going



The top overall girls and boys runners in the state, Ava Parekh (Sr., Chicago Latin) and Alex Partlow (Sr., Carbondale) were put on full display.


Parekh was the first to go and she copped the lead before the first checkpoint near the half-mile. It was under 2:30 and a stream of girls followed like a pied piper including Mary Grace Hegberg (Sr., Arlington Heights St. Viator), Elia Ton-That (Sr., Chicago Northside Prep), and Mia Kotler (Fr., Chicago Latin). 

The plan was for Parekh to go out fast and hopefully lure her biggest threats into a trap. The first mile was 5:15 but that is something that Hegberg can handle. However, it dragged Ton-That into the affair and she certainly wanted to lay back for a while and work a different angle. 

Parekh continued to roll and was in full control despite having a short lead through the first half at 8:01. She began to slightly pull away near the second mile in 10:49. Hegberg admitted to being rattled a little by Kotler passing her with one mile to go. Ton-That had faded as well leaving her to fight for a top-five spot instead of an individual title. 

Ms. Parekh would stride home for the easy win 16:23 (fastest time of the day) and put the brand on her as Illinois' top overall runner. Hegberg rebounded to finish second in a personal best 16:38. Kotler clocked 16:41 for the third spot ahead of Hadley Ferrero (Fr., Crystal Lake Central) who ran 16:55. Ton-That also under 17:00 at 16:57, closed out the top five.

The three trophy teams were all from the same Woodstock North Sectional. #7 Grayslake Central, #1 Crystal Lake South, and #5 Vernon Hills. Though Grayslake Central dropped out of the top-rated spot right before the state series, the Rams got the good news that a key runner Katie Armstrong (Jr) was back in the fold. Armstrong's strong fifth place scorer did not disappoint. She placed 52nd in the team log and timing is everything because it enabled the Rams to squeeze past for the win with 148 points. CLS held off Vernon Hills for second 162-165. 
1Grayslake Central High School1488+15+33+40+52 (73+87)1:16 1-5 Split | 18:21 Avg
2Crystal Lake South High School1627+12+18+61+64 (84+110)1:32 1-5 Split | 18:19 Avg
3Vernon Hills High School1659+11+28+49+68 (79+118)1:28 1-5 Split | 18:21 Avg
4Chicago Latin High School1881+2+50+66+69 (160+167)2:41 1-5 Split | 18:01 Avg
5Lakes High School22016+29+38+63+74 (98+162)1:10 1-5 Split | 18:40 Avg

Michael Schumacher, Paul Proteau, Yusuf Baig, and Jake Phillips in hot pursuit 




The top-ranked premium Alex Partlow (Sr., Carbondale) waited a year to redeem himself for a final last mile at the Shazam XC Championship that appeared to be three miles long. It was then that he was linked with Wilson Georges (Sr., Limestone) with just a mile to go. Partlow suffered an apparent asthma attack and fell off of a cliff. 

There would be no such asthma attack this time.

Partlow and Georges ran the first mile together in 4:37. Once they got to the back loop, Partlow lost his patience and bolted ahead with a strong surge and gapped Georges. This would be the last time Partlow would be challenged as he hit the second mile in 9:27 and eight seconds on Georges.
Partlow blazed home in a personal best 14:11. Georges took the runner-up spot in 14:36. Paul Proteau (Sr., Riverside-Brookfield) beat Jake Phillips (Jr., Chicago Marist) to the finish line for third 14:44-14:50. The fifth-place finish went to Yusuf Baig (Sr., Burlington Central) in 14:51.

The top four teams had scoring splits under one minute but it was #1 Oak Park Fenwick that utilized their position the best in beating #2 Deerfield 120-141. The Friars never trailed in the contest, leading at every mile checkpoint. One of the reasons for the win was they had their scoring pack upfront and that put pressure on Deerfield and #3 Morton to respond. The Potters scored 164 points. Sifting through a maze of individual scorers was Grayden Rill (Jr) whose third-place scoring finish (8th overall in 15:06) was the difference for Fenwick. 
1Fenwick High School1203+10+18+26+63 (88+165)0:59 1-5 Split | 15:34 Avg
2Deerfield High School1415+20+28+42+46 (64+80)0:48 1-5 Split | 15:42 Avg
3Morton High School1644+22+32+44+62 (121+144)0:55 1-5 Split | 15:44 Avg
4Kaneland High School18511+27+33+48+66 (96+127)0:50 1-5 Split | 15:48 Avg
5Riverside-Brookfield High School2352+12+17+101+103 (119+155)1:42 1-5 Split | 15:42 Avg

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