Naperville IL-

The first Wednesday evening in October always serves as an intense situation for some of the state’s top area teams and individuals. But then again it’s a signal that the postseason is just about upon us.

After a series of undercard races, it was time for the main event to begin. There was a feeling in the air that something magical was forthcoming, particularly after Karly Harkness (Jr., Downers Grove North) ran was to be believed to be an undercard record 18:24.

Well, enter Grace Schager (Sr., Glenbard North) who was an at-large entrant and a huge boost to an already stout lineup that featured fellow at-large participants Scout Storms (So., Barrington), Caroline Schoen (Sr., Homewood-Flossmoor), and Evelyn Hett (Sr., Chicago Jones). All eyes were on the meet record set of 16:15.9 by Glenbard West legend Katelynne Hart in 2017. In that affair, Hart beat the field by 20 seconds.

Right away Schager set the tone of the race, pushing aside the only resistance that she faced within the first 400m of the opening starting pistol. It was a fast first mile in 5:19 and 16 seconds ahead of Storms that propelled the reality of what was to come.

Schager toured the first time around the Huskies track all alone and later passed the second mile in 10:46. Storms and Hett were fighting on an island by themselves to decide who would take second. The team battle at this point was the hosts taking control over cross town rivals Central with a final mile remaining.

Schager came home to a loud crowd in 16:10 and took down the record. It was one of the fastest times in the month of October. Storms held off Hett 17:12-17:13. North has now established itself as a viable contender for a state trophy next month. The retooled squad put four runners inside of the top ten on the strength of Julie Piot (Jr) and Shania Tandon (Fr).

1 Naperville (North) 53 1+2+8+10+32 (44+52) 1:15 1-5 Split | 17:53 Avg
2 Naperville (Central) 70 3+6+12+24+25 (42+71) 1:05 1-5 Split | 18:04 Avg
3 LaGrange (Lyons) 94 4+14+19+26+31 (39+60) 1:06 1-5 Split | 18:17 Avg
4 Wheaton-Warrenville South 108 5+17+21+22+43 (84+92) 1:10 1-5 Split | 18:23 Avg
5 Downers Grove (North) 118 7+15+28+33+35 (37+48) 0:54 1-5 Split | 18:26 Avg


The boys side of the ledger was a bit more compact in terms of individual talent. There was no Schager comparison to deal with. The first mile was 4:45 and there were over 20 runners within that time frame.

Over the next mile, the group dropped to about a half dozen. Liam Newhart (Sr., Oak Park-River Forest), Nicholas Strayer (Jr., Lyons), and Oliver Burns (Sr., Plainfield North) appeared to be the runners to watch. Inside of the next half mile, Newhart opened a gap over Burns and pushed home for the 11-second win at 14:35.

WSC rivals Downers Grove North and OPRF fought a good battle throughout. The Trojans had a sizable lead on the field for the first mile based mostly on the strength of their pack. OPRF would take charge in the second mile with Newhart, Michael Michelotti (Jr), and Daniel Johnson (Jr) upfront. Unfortunately for the Huskies, Johnson would drop out of the race for the second consecutive time, diminishing their opportunity to seize a huge victory before the conference sweepstakes.

Let’s give credit to the Trojans who topped a great field, one that may be as big as the upcoming Waubonsie Valley Sectional in three weeks.

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