NAPERVILLE – Plainfield South’s girls cross country team is upbeat about how it will do this season, and that optimism grew Tuesday.
That’s because the Cougars claimed top honors in Plainfield North’s Tiger Conditioner Relays at Commissioners Park.
The Hokum Karem relay featured pairs of runners alternating miles over the four-mile course, with the top three finishers from each school accounting for their team’s points.
South won with 13 points after having the third-, fourth- and sixth-place finishers. The hosts and Rosary tied with 23 points, but North claimed second thanks to a tiebreaker. Providence (42), Hinsdale South (50), Joliet Catholic (51) and Plainfield East (52) also competed.
“This is a tremendous confidence-booster for us moving forward, and it’s a great building block for the rest of the season,” Cougars coach Dan Shuman said. “We prepared very hard over the summer, and to see it pay off with the girls doing well and everyone running hard is a great reward. This was our first meet, and it’s something that we can build on.”
Leading the way for South was the third-place team of Daijah Brown and returning state qualifier Lexi Grigg, the fourth-place squad of Chelsea Hernandez and Greta Carlberg and the sixth-place pairing of Stephanie Cruz and Jozelyn Macias.
“It was a cool experience, especially working with a new teammate in Daijah, who’s a freshman,” Grigg said. “This is probably the biggest team that we’ve had in the past few years, with the most freshmen. We’ve been working really hard since the beginning of summer, and this shows it. It’s exciting to see how good we might be this year.”
In addition to being pleased at winning a team title in her initial high school meet, Brown likes what she sees from this year’s squad.
“This was really exciting since it was my first race of freshman year, and I got to run with the varsity, so I felt good,” Brown said. “I had an excellent partner to run with me, and we worked really hard. We all have a different type of passion that works together very well. We all have a lot of motivation, we’re all very competitive, and we’re a hard-working team.”
A squad from Rosary won the girls race; North’s pairing of Miranda Bakker and Rachael Lau, who was an all-stater last season, claimed second place in the event.
Also for the Tigers, Sofi Chartrand and Megan Patton were 10th, while Valarie Som and Brittany Drag finished 11th.
Providence’s top performers were Andrea Zecca and Rebecca Thompkins, who took eighth, and Kirsten Schultz and Kelly Schultz, who placed ninth.
For JCA, Kelly Testin and Madeline Blotnik were 13th, and Kennedy Weigt and Emma Ehrsam took 14th. Plainfield East’s Marissa Zajac and Vivian Medrano placed 15th.
In the six-mile boys competition, highly regarded Neuqua Valley had the three-through-fifth finishers and had seven of the top 11 placers to easily capture the title with 12 points.
Plainfield North was second with 26 points, while Bolingbrook edged Hinsdale South 48-50 for third place. Romeoville (57), Providence (64) and Plainfield East (98) were next.
The top pairing in the field was a squad from Hinsdale South.
The host Tigers were paced by the second-place team of Jack Sebok and Tanner Thurman, the ninth-place squad of Adam Bruyere and Ben Otstott, and the 15th-place pairing of Daniel Gibson and Tim Schrank.
“Neuqua is one of the best teams in the state, so it’s good for our guys to experience racing against them,” North coach Andy Derks said. “We’ve made huge strides from last year. We’ve got a good core group of juniors and seniors who have bought into what we’ve challenged them. And we’ve got two great new coaches who have motivated the team.”
Bolingbrook’s top finishers were Bjorn Shroda and Johnathon Cook, who took eighth place. Romeoville was led by Mike Samuelson and Luis Loza, who placed 14th.
Providence received a 12th-place effort from Mike Higgins and Michael Davis, and a 13th-place showing from Mike Grossmayer and Mitch Sharkey.