Becca Heitzig holds off Annika Swan for the title.
PEORIA- If the first two races indicated what would come, prepare your popcorn!
The girl's team battle for the three trophies appeared clear cut with #1 Chatham-Glenwood in the driver's seat. The Titans came into the fray as dominant as any team, boy or girl, regardless of classification.
The Titans' strength was its scoring five; if need be, they could go to the sixth runner for insurance.
The Titans led at every juncture and never seriously challenged en route to a state championship. Freshman Ali Londrigan got out well and ahead of most of the field, running on an island for a portion of the race. She would eventually place seventh in 17:40 (4th in team scoring). Londrigen's teammate, sophomore Ashlyn Chopra, finished strong, picking up three spots inside the final mile to finish in 11th place overall with a time of 17:43.
The Titans needed just 39 seconds on its 1-5 scorers, adding up to 84 points. Defending champ Grayslake Central made a valiant effort and took home the second-place trophy by tallying 125 points. The final team plaque went to Chicago St. Ignatius, who scored 166 points.
The individual race was one to remember. As predicted, four girls went to the front: Becca Heitzig (Sr., Lincoln), Annika Swan (So., Chicago St. Ignatius), Sundara Weber (So., Sandwich), and Natalie Bierbaum (So., Normal University). These girls were in a class of their own.
They separated from the massive field after the first 1200m and hit the first mile in under 5:20 and the second mile in just over 11:00. Zoe Carter (Jr., Normal University) was on an island but running well. With just a half mile left, Heitzig vs. Swan remained to duel for the state title. One wondered if Swan knew she could take advantage of Heitzig, who had to be exhausted from playing in a high-stakes volleyball match the night prior.
Heitzig hunkered down with tired legs but a solid mental frame. She won by a stride in 16:34.8. In a valiant effort, Swan earned runner-up honors and something to ponder in years to come. Weber took third in 16:40, one second in front of Bierbaum. It was one of the best races in classification history.
The Boy's race started without a hitch as the favorite and state's #1 runner, Dylon Nalley (Sr., Marion), set off to defend his title and possibly get under the valiant 14:00 mark. For a while, it appeared as though Nalley would get both wishes. He hit the first mile in 4:27 and entered the back loop void of earlier pursuer Dale Johnson (Sr., Sterling).
Nalley was on record pace at the halfway mark in 6:46 and still in range at the second mile in 9:16. This was approximately the same pace he maintained in September at the Richard Spring Invite. In that affair, it was the traffic of lapped runners and Nalley taking a moment to clutch his watch, which may have prevented him from breaking 14:00 (14:00.2 was his time). This time, it was heavy legs that prevented such a feat, but the easy win in 14:05 was good enough.
Trey Sato (Sr., Grayslake Central) chased down Johnson late in the final mile to take second by a second in 14:21. Matthew Conroy (Sr., St. Ignatius) and Finn Richards (Jr., Benet Academy) round out the top five with respectable 14:40 and 14:44 times.
In a somewhat surprising for the team title, Marion took the winning plaque with 112 points.
|1||Marion (H.S.)||112||1+13+16+27+55 (138+142)||1:32 1-5 Split | 15:00 Avg|
|2||Glen Ellyn (Glenbard South)||173||8+15+26+45+79 (128+165)||1:03 1-5 Split | 15:17 Avg|
|3||Chicago (Payton)||200||22+34+40+42+62 (93+126)||0:35 1-5 Split | 15:24 Avg|
|4||Maple Park (Kaneland)||220||6+9+32+61+112 (116+184)||1:29 1-5 Split | 15:23 Avg|
|5||Morton||225||14+18+35+76+82 (83+107)||0:53 1-5 Split | 15:27 Avg|