Grace Schager, Prospect Girls Shine At Richard Spring Invite

It was a classic battle between York and Prospect at Detweiller


Peoria IL-

The theme coming into the Richard Spring Invitational at Detweiller Park on Saturday on the girls side was "who would win the team title and will the all-time record be broken?"

Well, No. 2 Prospect got the best of No. 1 York in the closest tilt you're ever going to see. And Grace Schager (Sr., Glenbard North) did not get the meet or all-time record, but she clocked the second-fastest time in Richard Spring (Peoria Notre Dame) Invitational history.

York and Prospect have proud and successful programs that have stood the test of time. In this latest era of cross country greatness, it begins with head coaches Lauren DeAngelis (York) and Pete Wintermute (Prospect). They are mastermind leaders and can play chess as well as anyone out there.

On this occasion, Wintermute finally deployed talented underclassmen Meg Peterson (Fr) and Veronica Znadja (So) into the varsity lineup for invitationals.

The first mile was clear as daylight in terms of who was leading the team battle. From an eyeball test, it was virtually even with both teams' front runners within shouting distance of one another. Bria Bennis (Sr., York) was slightly ahead of Hailey Erickson (Sr., Prospect) 5:40-5:42. Prospect was ahead by two points entering the second mile. 

It was essentially a stalemate during the back loop tour, one Yorkie, two Prospect Knights, three Yorkies, more Knights, etc. Through the second mile, the Knights padded their lead to 12 points 63-55.

But it was not over!

York would storm back in the final half-mile with its pack picking a spot or two and standing their ground. It appeared as though the Lady Dukes won by putting all seven runners in front of the Knight's fifth girl. But the difference was a better three in the top 10 and a runner-up team placement by Erickson that earned them the nail-biting win 53-54.

On the individual side of things, it was all Schager -- anti-climatic in terms of anyone challenging her. Brooke Johnston (Sr., Lake Zurich) was supposed to be one who pose an issue to Schager for a while, but she was scratched from the meet due to sickness. 

Schager went out in 5:19 for the first mile and looked very comfortable with a 12-second lead over Sarah Fischer (Sr., Hinsdale Central) and Anna Harden (Sr., Hersey). Schager increased her lead in the "Bermuda Triangle" and was 8:05 at the halfway point. By the PND layout which had a slightly longer first mile than FTTF, she was on 16:10 pace if she could break even.

Schager hit the second mile in 10:46 which suggests she would only run about 16:15-20, but fortunately, she had enough in the tank to drop a 5:21 closer and the win in 16:07. Schager admitted to feeling a little pressure coming in but her poise and season plan of improvement appears to be intact.