It was an army of five teams from Illinois and a battalion of 10 individuals from all over the Midwest that got the job done
The eyes were wide open for the vast majority of participants who descended on "Rip City" for the first time. That's because the last Team Cross Nationals was held in 2019 (2020, 2021 were canceled due to covid-19) and this cast was either in middle school or freshmen. For the Midwest team and individual contingent, only Tatum David (Sr., Richland Co) competed in 2019. David was a freshman the last time that she touched down at the Glendover Park course and earned All-American honors with a 17th place finish.
The Midwest continent was as deep and strong as its been since the inception of the national series involving individuals and teams in the mix. US rated #6 Mt. Prospect (Prospect) and #9 Elmhurst York was poised to make some major noise and possibly get on the top three trophy podium. Individually, the spectacular group aside from David is Helen Sachs (So., West Holland MI), Grace Schager (Sr., Glenbard North), Sophia Kennedy (Sr., Indy Park Tudor), and Lily Cridge (Sr., Indy Bishop Chatard).
The favorite Irene Riggs (Sr., Morgantown WV) won as expected, hitting the first mile in 5:10 and never looking back or being challenged. The final outcome was a smoking 16:40, just three seconds short of the great Katelyn Tuohy's all-time meet record.
Schager led the Midwest squad with a fifth-place finish in 17:16. She moved impressively through each checkpoint and passed her first national championship race with flying colors. Kennedy ran tough as well, picking off opponents left and right over the final third of the race to place seventh, one spot ahead of David 17:18-17:22. Overall, it was an unofficial "team" winning effort by the girls who produced 5,7,8,28,60 finishes.
#1 Saratoga Springs NY was the prohibitive favorite and they did not disappoint. The Blue Streaks got ahead of the field and worked together like clockwork. Though it appeared closer on paper it really wasn't as they solved their number five runner situation. Prospect ran well too, producing the lowest-scoring split of any of the 22 teams in the field. Ironically, but not surprisingly it was freshman Meg Peterson who led the Knight's charge with a 62nd place overall.
York ran well in its first Team Nationals taking 10th in a loaded field. The Lady Dukes fought to stay within the top ten through each mile and were led by senior Bria Bennis in 45th place (18:06). The net result produced a solid 1:05 scoring split.
|1||Saratoga Springs||86||10+13+16+19+28 (71+117)||0:23 1-5 Split | 18:03 Avg|
|2||Niwot High School||113||6+20+24+25+38 (51+53)||0:49 1-5 Split | 18:07 Avg|
|3||Buchanan (CS)||121||9+17+23+33+39 (57+102)||0:40 1-5 Split | 18:12 Avg|
|4||Lone Peak||124||4+14+22+32+52 (83+119)||1:15 1-5 Split | 18:08 Avg|
|5||Mt. Prospect (Prospect)||194||30+34+40+44+46 (72+101)||0:19 1-5 Split | 18:29 Avg|
|6||Flower Mound||199||3+5+12+73+106 (141+146)||2:04 1-5 Split | 18:17 Avg|
|7||Air Academy High School||217||1+15+49+54+98 (107+139)||2:25 1-5 Split | 18:21 Avg|
|8||Cuthbertson High School||251||11+26+27+42+145 (150)||3:05 1-5 Split | 18:48 Avg|
|9||Wayzata High School||258||2+31+47+75+103 (109+148)||2:27 1-5 Split | 18:29 Avg|
|10||Elmhurst (York)||283||18+56+60+62+87 (94+104)||1:05 1-5 Split | 18:44 Avg|
Three Illinois teams qualified for the championship for the first time. Hinsdale Central and Downers Grove North are repeat offenders while Plainfield South came into the fray for the first time. All three teams competed well and exceeded many pundits expectations.
Hinsdale Central appeared to be the best overall team in the overall Midwest since the beginning of the post state championship run. The Red Devils' tough tandem of junior Aden Bandukwala and senior Dan Watcke slapped hands just before the first mile in 4:45 and proceeded to lead their teams to 26th and 28th overall placements (15:28 & 15:31). Though the guys were a little disappointed in missing out on a podium finish, they are to be commended for finishing eighth as a team.
At-Large entry Downers Grove North should the true spirit and grit of a team thankful for the opportunity. The Trojans did not disappoint, taking 11th officially in the standings based on a strange USATF tie breaking rule. In actuality they are a top 10 product. Junior Caden Weber was the top finisher in 54th place (15:51).
Plainfield South completed their first journey with a 13th place as junior Camyn Viger took 38th overall in 15:40 on the rugged course. The usual scoring split was a little higher than usual (1:02), otherwise they might have been the third top ten placer.
Inviudually, it was another steller performance from the Newbury Park CA contingent who won yet another national title. 66 points is pretty good especially when the twins Leo Young and Lex Young do not finish among the top overall! Teammate Aaron Sahlman got his first career cross country win at the best time. Sahlman charged up the final incline and won impressively in 14:44.
The boys from the Midwest team showed why they were among the best quintet every assembled from that region. Kole Mathison rallied in the final kilometer to lead the charge with a fourth place finish (14:55). Two more top ten placements followed from Michigander seniors Benne Anderson and Hunter Jones who clocked sub-15:00 efforts at 14:57. They took ninth and tenth place respectively. Senior Connor Ackley of Ohio was among the top 20 at 18th place with a time of 15:20. Connor Burns of Missouri did not have his best day but he finish in top 40 overall with a time of 15:31.
|1||Newbury Park (SS)||66||1+4+7+12+42 (61+103)||1:16 1-5 Split | 15:21 Avg|
|2||Jesuit||152||9+17+21+30+75 (88+134)||0:52 1-5 Split | 15:51 Avg|
|3||Herriman||155||5+6+32+46+66 (67+106)||1:04 1-5 Split | 15:47 Avg|
|4||Crater||171||3+16+36+54+62 (111+146)||1:22 1-5 Split | 15:48 Avg|
|5||American Fork||173||2+37+38+44+52 (55+104)||1:15 1-5 Split | 15:48 Avg|
|6||Great Oak (SS)||193||24+34+41+43+51 (71+147)||0:15 1-5 Split | 16:00 Avg|
|7||San Clemente (SS)||243||20+29+49+60+85 (86+107)||0:40 1-5 Split | 16:07 Avg|
|8||Hinsdale (Central)||260||8+10+56+70+116 (132+135)||1:18 1-5 Split | 16:03 Avg|
|9||Farragut High School||266||13+27+63+76+87 (112+119)||0:50 1-5 Split | 16:08 Avg|
|10||Downers Grove (North)||288||23+40+53+83+89 (95+121)||0:40 1-5 Split | 16:12 Avg|
|11||Corning||288||26+57+65+68+72 (118+128)||0:28 1-5 Split | 16:12 Avg|
|12||Wayzata High School||320||39+45+64+79+93 (113+148)||0:33 1-5 Split | 16:15 Avg|
|13||Plainfield (South)||335||14+47+73+91+110 (124+140)||1:02 1-5 Split | 16:16 Avg|
|14||Belen Jesuit Preparatory School||349||33+59+69+92+96 (115+150)||0:37 1-5 Split | 16:20 Avg|
|15||Stevens Point||352||11+28+81+105+127 (129+137)||1:19 1-5 Split | 16:17 Avg|