PEORIA – Persistence keeps paying dividends for the Kaneland girls cross country team.
Following a trend that's been the norm over the past few state series, the Knights turned in a strong performance at the Class 2A state meet at Detweiller Park, finishing fifth as a team in Class 2A.
"They seem to do that on a yearly basis now – they save their best races for their last," Kaneland coach Doug Ecker said.
Kaneland totaled a 246 team score to tie Chatham Glenwood, but defeated the Titans by virtue of a faster sixth runner. It's the program's highest finish since the three-class system began in 2007. The 1989 team took fourth in Class A.
Yorkville captured the team title with a 104.
The Knights' Brianna Bower capped a consistent sophomore season to lead the Knights with a 37th-place run in 18:33. The effort earned 24 points in the team score. Aislinn Lodwig, who has only been training for the past five weeks due to injury, was 54th in 18:59. Defending 2A individual champ Victoria Clinton was 76th in 19:12.
Kaneland finished eighth as a team in 2011 and sixth last season. Asked what has fueled the program's progression, Ecker was succinct.
"Better kids, more dedicated kids," he said.
Competing in the 3A meet, Geneva finished eighth with a team score of 264. Champion Glenbard West placed four runners in the top 21 to win with a 75.
Geneva used a strong middle pack to stick around the front of the 25-team field. Kathryn Adelman (38th, 17:54), Brooke Nusser (47th, 18:02) and Emma McSpadden (60th, 18:10)
The Vikings, who won successive 3A state titles in 2007-08, finished sixth last season.
St. Charles North placed 17th behind a personal-record effort from senior Ashley England, whose 11th-place run of 17:20 was a nine-second PR.
"Ashley exceeded expectations. She did exactly what she wanted to do," North Stars coach Shari Hayes said. "Very, very happy. We thought that was the time she needed to get all-state [top 25] and she did even better than that."
St. Charles East junior Torree Scull also earned all-state accolades, finishing 18th in 17:25.
Rosary, making its team state debut, finished 17th in 2A as sophomore Madison Ronzone placed 32nd in 18:24.
Aurora Central Catholic placed 17th among 25 teams in the 1A meet. Sophomore Karina Liz paced the Chargers' pack with a 59th-place run in 19:10.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
IHSA state meet: At Peoria, Wheaton Academy finished 10th in the Class 2A meet, in which Yorkville followed up its girls' team title with a boys championship.
Brandon Lach (46th, 15:45) and Jacob Robleski (63rd, 15:53) led the Warriors.
Kaneland placed 22nd behind Nathaniel Kucera (67th, 15:54) and Andrew Leak (114th, 16:17).
"I guess we're surprised but not surprised," Knights coach Chad Clarey said. "We did not run as well collectively as we could have. I think we're disappointed, but I think the boys can definitely use a day like today to fuel the fire for the spring track season and the following cross country season."
Among individuals, Burlington Central's Clay Musial narrowly missed the top 25, all-state cutoff, placing 26th in 15:29, four seconds behind Murphy Affolder of Mascoutah.
Marmion's Brady Bobbitt was the top area finisher in the 3A meet, placing 76th in 15:28. Mitch Zabka of Batavia wasn't far behind, running 82nd in 15:31 to spark the Bulldogs' first team state appearance in school history.
Batavia finished 23rd among 26 teams, with Ryan Wieties (124th, 15:47)) and Patrick Redmond (140th, 15:53) following Zabka.
In the 1A meet, Mooseheart junior Wal Khat placed fourth in 15:09, 22 seconds behind champion Jon Davis of the Fithian Oakwood co-op. Aurora Christian freshman Tanner Chada finished 28th in 15:46.
Class 2A third-place match: Rochester 2, Wheaton Academy 1: At Hoffman Estates, Wheaton Academy ended the season at 22-5-1, finishing fourth in the state for the second successive fall.
Rochester grabbed a 2-0 lead at halftime before the Warriors drew to within the final margin about midway through the second half on a Daniel Bergquest goal. Sam Hardy had the assist. Wheaton Academy goalkeeper Drew Sezonov made two saves.