Richard Spring Peoria Notre Dame Invite Preview: Trilogy 2

The marvelous scene from the 2022 varsity girls Richard Spring Invitational 


2022 Richard Spring Invite page

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Date: Saturday, September 16
Location: Detweiller Park; Peoria IL
Meet Schedule:
8:30a Girls' Open
9:10a Boys' Open
9:50a Girls' Varsity
10:30a Boys' Varsity
11:10a Girls' Fresh-Soph
11:50a Boys' Fresh-Soph
Quick thoughts: For the second weekend in a row, Peoria becomes the epicenter of cross country.... more than 60 schools from the home state plus several surrounding areas, including Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan, will partake in the "Grand Daddy of them all invite."
Girls field: #1 Downers Grove North, #2 York, #3 Prospect, #9 Glenbard West, #11 Oswego East, #12 Arlington Heights Hersey, #13 Orland Park Sandburg, #18 Palatine, #22 Naperville (Neuqua Valley), #25 O'Fallon, 2A #3 Chicago Saint Ignatius
Outlook: From a team perspective, this will be a part 2 or a rematch of the top three teams in the state. The top-ranked Trojans were living large all week with unaccustomed fanfare. Let's see if they can be focused. If you recall, they were victorious over #1 Prospect and #2 York. It was primarily the higher finishes of Lily Eddington (So) and Mckenzie Willard (Jr) that won it for the Trojans by one point. Both teams had equal scoring splits (43 seconds).

The York doesn't seem to be worried about performing well this weekend. Coach Lauren DeAngelis remarked that senior Anna McGrail was a pleasant surprise when she broke 18:00 for the first time at Lake Park. The Lady Dukes will see big dividends from its back-scoring pack in a large RS field.

Prospect doesn't appear to be the same team as last year. The Knights haven't shown that smash-mouth racing style despite going 1-2 last weekend on the strength of Veronica Znajda (Jr.) and Meg Peterson (So). Maybe it's because senior leader Lily Ginsberg hasn't jelled yet. They will need her to step up on Saturday to regain their dominant traits.

The rest of the team fields are solid. Glenbard West, for example, took a distant fifth at Harvey Braus, but the Hilltoppers are a solid team based on their strong scoring split of 19 seconds. St. Ignatius placed ahead of Glenbard West last weekend; seeing if the Wolfpack's 2-5 scorers can move up and fight with Oswego East and Hersey will be interesting.

The top four girls from a year ago have graduated, leaving Znajda as the top returner. She is off to a great start after a convincing win at the Harvey. If it's not the Prospect pair, could it be someone from York's senior corps, specifically Katherine Klimek or Michaela Quinn? Let's throw Annika Swan (So., Chicago St. Ignatius) into the mix. She is one of the state's best underclassmen distance runners but had a hard time last weekend at Lake Park because of illness. Swan is a frontrunner and will be in the mix. So will Eddington, who is sky-high these days. 

Boys field: #3 Arlington Heights (Hersey), #7 Barrington, #8 O'Fallon, #10 Naperville (Neuqua Valley), #12 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #13 St. Charles East, #14 Oak Park-River Forest, #15 Chicago Whitney Young, #16 Palatine, #18 Chicago Lane, #19 West Aurora, #20 Mt. Prospect (Prospect)
Outlook: Outside of Downers Grove North, about a half dozen teams could win a second or third-place trophy if the state meet was held today. Hersey is one of those teams that's in the discussion. This will allow the Huskies to make a strong statement with a win. Senior Liam Naughton is the team's top runner but hasn't gotten untracked yet. But the team has a strong 1-4 group led by senior Zach Frayder, who has clocked 15:23. The Huskies will be much better on Saturday.

Hersey's chief MSL rival is Barrington, and they are one of those squads capable of winning a state trophy and will undoubtedly be in the mix for this meet. Joe Bregenzer (Jr.) is an elite runner and could be a top-five low stick finisher for the team.

O'Fallon may have a chip on their shoulders after dominating the Granite City Invite for several weeks. The chip comes from the supposed lack of respect because that meet's course was run mostly. on smooth pavement. The Panthers are a strong team regardless, and their top runners, Dylan Ybarra (Sr.) and Zach Thoman (Jr.), will assist in the team's success. 

The rest of the pack is good and filled with some upstart teams trying to make a name for themselves before the season's peak. Palatine was a top 10 squad in the state meet a year ago; the Pirates have a young squad led by sophomore Alexander Krieg.
Wheaton South, Lane Tech, and St. Charles East had a strong weekend battle at the Lake Park Invite. Oak Park-River Forest, Chicago Whitney Young and Neuqua Valley are also promising teams to watch for.

The race to the tape will feature Dylon Nalley (Sr., Marion). Last year, Nalley was the state's top runner, busting out a personal best of 14:03 at the Peoria HS Invite, and later went on to win the 2A state title. So far this season, Nalley has been a revenge tour of sorts after an injury and sick-riddled track and field season. He is 2-0 in the early going; both wins are course and meet records. What will the prognosis be for this Saturday? He hasn't made any predictions, but there is a feeling that perhaps a sub-14:00 offering is realistic. 

Last year, Ybarra, Zac Close (Sr., Neuqua Valley), and Aden Bandukwala (Sr., Hinsdale Central) were among the top placers. But keep an eye on Thoman, Bregenzer, Josiah Narayanan (Jr. Wheaton South), and Will Kozlowski (Sr., Chicago Lane).