Cross Country: Naperville North teams eye state trophies
BY MIKE KNAPP For Sun-Times Media November 1, 2012 5:06PM
Naperville North's Elly Deturris leads the race at Saturday's Class 3A Regional. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 3, 2012 6:44AM
Very few teams in the history of high school sports in Illinois have put together a more impressive streak than the Naperville North girls cross country team.
When the Huskies line up for the Class 3A race at the state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria on Saturday, they will be doing so for the 22nd straight year. North has won 11 trophies over that span — given to the top three finishing teams — and has won four state titles.
Last year the Huskies placed third behind New Trier and Wheaton Warrenville South, and with wins at the West Chicago Regional and St. Charles North Sectional the last two weeks, they could equal or better that finish this weekend.
“We expect to run very well,” said North coach Dan Iverson. “Our main focus for state is to simply run the best race we’re capable of running. If we do that, I think we’ll be very pleased with the results no matter what the score.”
Maria McDaniel, who finished 30th last year to fall just five spots short of All-State recognition, heads the front of the pack for the Huskies, along with Elly DeTurris, who won the regional race. But the Huskies pack up very well and any number of runners can also step up on race day.
Naperville Central, which is led by sophomores Katie and Rachel Hoffman, also advanced as a team to Peoria out of the St. Charles North Sectional. Neuqua Valley did not advance as a team after two straight years downstate, but will still have two runners in the race in Claire Costelloe and Julia Pena.
Audrey Blazek will represent Benet in Peoria, while Kendall Cast from Metea Valley will compete as an individual as well.
The Naperville North boys have a similar streak going, having appeared in every state final since 1998. The boys also swept the regional and sectional team titles and look to win their first trophy since taking home the team title in 2008.
“The team can finish anywhere from a trophy to tenth place in my opinion,” said coach David Racey. “If we run the way we are capable we should be close to a team trophy. We have a very deep and talented group.”
Senior Jimmy Qiao won the St. Charles Sectional in a quick 15:02 last weekend and could be in contention for All-State honors. Racey believes several of his runners could break into the top 25 as well as the scoring runners were separated by just 27 seconds at both the regional and sectional races.
Naperville Central makes its first appearance as a team at state since 2002. Ryan Auld and Matt Stern led the way for Central at sectionals by finishing 14th and 21st, respectively.
Neuqua Valley finished third at the Marist Sectional to advance to state for the 12th straight year. After winning titles in 2007 and 2009, the Wildcats have finished third in each of the last two years. Nick Bushelle and Alekh Meka have been the top finishers for Neuqua in both state series races.