WEST CHICAGO – After sitting out the start of this year’s cross country season due to injury, Marmion runner John Graft wanted to make a major impact Saturday at the West Chicago Boys Cross Country Class 3A Regional.
The senior accomplished that objective by taking fifth place in the contest and leading the Cadets to a sectional-qualifying, fourth-place team finish.
Graft completed the three mile course at Kress Creek Farms with a time of 15:44.
“I’ve been injured for a lot of the season,” Graft said. ”I’ve been healthy the last two months, so my goal was to have a breakout race.”
“I want to take the race conservatively in the first mile and then really move up from there,” added Graft. “I really started passing people in the second mile and finished hard.”
“We ran well. We’re rounding into form at the right time,” said Marmion coach Dan Klatt of his team, which tallied 98 points. “Guys stepped up today and it was a great one for us.”
Batavia also qualified to run at next Saturday’s Waubonsie Valley Sectional by finishing in fifth place (107 points). Junior Ryan Wieties was the top Bulldog runner, taking 13th place with a time of 15:56.
“We are always happy to advance because that’s the goal,” Batavia coach Mike DiDomenico said. “And we’re looking forward to the challenge of next week.”
Wheaton Warrenville South runners took the top three places and earned the Tigers the regional title. Nolan McKenna, a senior, crossed the finish line first with a time of 15:17. Wheaton Warrenville South won the race with 30 points.
Naperville North finished second (50) and Naperville Central came in third (89).
The top-six team finishers in the 10-team field advanced to the sectional. Waubonsie Valley (179) was the final qualifier. In addition, the top five runners from non-qualifying schools qualified.
The Batavia girls team’s fifth-place finish (145 points) in the girls race earned the Bulldogs a berth at next week’s sectional meet.
“We had a decent start but then we started moving backwards,” said Chad Hillman, Batavia's girls coach. “I’m not sure what happened but with a mile to go we started moving back forward, stated picking off places and being where we needed to be. It was a good job coming back.”
Sophomore Dakota Roman led the Bulldogs with an 11th place finish, completing the course in 18:31.
“The first mile was on pace but from there I slowed back down a little bit,” Roman said. “Towards the end of the race I sped it up a bit because I wanted to get good placement.”
Naperville North girls took home the regional trophy by winning the race with 28 points. Naperville Central (61 points), Wheaton Warrenville South (78), Benet Academy (138) and Metea Valley (149) also advanced to the Waubonsie Sectional.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Class 2A Wheaton Academy Regional: At Kress Creek Farms in West Chicago, Wheaton Academy (second) and St. Francis (fifth) earned team berths to next week's Wheaton Academy Sectional.
Noah Van Dyke led an impressive lead pack for the Warriors, finishing seventh in 16:10, just ahead of teammates Brandon Lach (16:14) and Jacob Robleski (16:15). Andrew Hallel (sixth, 16:03) and Nick Vilimek (15th, 16:26) were tops for St. Francis.
Javier Montelongo and Matt Knapp of Aurora Central Catholic advanced as individuals.
Class 1A Aurora Christian Regional: At Aurora, Mooseheart's Wal Khat was the top finisher in 15:19 and qualified for next week's Lisle Sectional. Aurora Christian's Tanner Chada and John DiCocco also advanced.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Class 2A Burlington Central Regional: At Burlington, Kaneland earned a fourth-place finish to qualify as a team entry for next week's Belvidere Sectional. Brianna Bower (sixth, 18:42) and Victoria Clinton (11th, 19:01) led the way for the Knights.
Katie Bush and Courtni Neubauer qualified as individuals for BC, which finished five points behind the final team qualifier, Carmel.
Class 2A Wheaton Academy Regional: At Kress Creek Farms in West Chicago, Rosary (third) and Wheaton Academy (fourth) clinched team berths to next week's Wheaton Academy Sectional. Sophomores Madison Ronzone (10th, 19:13) and Shea Vero (12th, 19:19) were Rosary's top runners, while Gretchen Pearson (ninth, 19:12) and AJ Setran (22nd, 19:51) led Wheaton Academy. Each of the Warriors' top five finishers were freshmen.
St. Francis' Meghan McShea and Katie Beck were individual sectional qualifiers.
Kaneland Spikefest: At Maple Park, Geneva finished 3-1 to take second in the round-robin event, losing only to Normal West. The Vikings (25-9) defeated Kaneland, 17-25, 25-14, 15-5 later in the day. Grace Loberg smacked 35 kills on the day, Kelsey Wicinski had 71 digs and Courtney Caruso dished 60 assists.
Marmion 43, Walther Lutheran 0: At Melrose Park, Marmion dominated Suburban Christian Conference crossover for Walther Lutheran to finish the regular season at 7-2.
Aurora Christian 48, Guerin 7: At River Grove, Aurora Christian snapped its three-game losing streak and clinched its playoff spot, closing the regular season 6-3 after dominating its SCC crossover game.
• Jared Birchfield contributed to this report.