ST. CHARLES – For most teams, the purpose of early season cross meets such as Saturday’s Leavey Invitational at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve is to test new runners and try out different strategies. Winning the meet is a bonus.
Adding two freshmen to the starting seven paid off for the St. Charles North girls team as the North Stars won the meet with 99 points.
The North Stars' top runner, freshman Nina Olshever, finished 13th overall with a time of 17:59.9.
She was followed by juniors Ashley England and Kaylee Wessel, who finished 16th and 17th. Both completed the course in 18:05.1.
Senior Ella Murata (18:40.6) .and freshman Shelby Artman (18:41.3) rounded out North’s top five. Murata finished 26th and Artman was right behind her at 27th.
North Stars coach Shari Hayes believed the girls staying close together during the race made the difference.
“Our strong pack [won the race]," she said. "A 40 second split, I believe, from (runners) 1 to 5. That’s a positive. That’s what we came to do.”
“I was really surprised on my time,” said Olshever. “When I was coming in the chute, I was expecting to be like 19 (minutes) but it was 17:50, so I went for it.”
York’s Emma Fisher won the race for a second year in a row. Her time of 17.09.4 for the three-mile course was the second best girls time in the event’s history. York finished two points behind North to take second place.
Another freshman, Dakota Roman, was the top Batavia runner. Her time of 17.46.8 earned her a sixth-place finish.
“Yes and no,” responded Batavia coach Chad Hillman when asked if he was surprised that Roman was the Bulldogs’ top finisher in only her second varsity contest.
“She been fantastic in practice. This was her first invitational test at three miles, so she definitely stepped up and ran great.”
Jacobs (128), Barrington (141) and St. Charles East (144) rounded out the top five in the girls race. Torree Scull turned in the best time for Saints’ runners, finishing ninth with a time of 17:57.1.
Batavia (154) finished sixth and Geneva (155) took seventh in the 13-team field. Brooke Nusser was the Vikings' top runner. Her time of 17:58.8 earned her 11th place.
The St. Charles North boys’ third place (121) finish was tops among local schools in the boys varsity race.
“I’m very happy with a third-place finish. I saw a lot of great stuff out there,” said North boys coach Kevin Harrington. “Some of the freshmen and sophomores ran well in their races so who knows who the top seven will end up being. It is just good to see what you can do because you never know until you get out and run.”
Batavia’s 126 points earned the Bulldogs fourth place.
Wheaton North won the boys race with a score of 88. Jacobs finished second (117). Downers Grove North (165) came in fifth among the 15 teams.
Oswego’s Caleb Beck took top honors in the contest with a time of 14:36.1
Four area runners finished in the top 10. Batavia’s Mitch Zabka took fifth place with a time of 15.02.
North's Spencer Gray came in sixth (15.12.5) with a new personal record, followed by Marmion’s John Graft.(15.17.8).
Senior Bulldog Chris Orlow took 10th place (15.21.1).
Marmion finished seventh overall (171) while St. Charles East came in 11th place (245). The Saints’ top runner was Max Rowland. The junior’s time of 15.24.7 earned him 13th.
Dan Herrera, Geneva’s top runner, came in 23rd with a time of 15:40.6.