On Saturday, we traveled to Peoria for the ‘First to the Finish’ Invitational. This was a huge meet divided into 3 classes, with many of the best teams from around the state. We competed in the 3A class (largest school division) against 37 other teams. Thirteen of those teams are currently ranked among the top 25 in the state according to DyeStatIL. The course was muddy and sloppy following a week of rain, making it tougher and definitely slower than normal.
The Mustangs more than held their own against this competitive field by placing 4th out of 38 teams. Naperville North (ranked #4 in Illinois) won the meet 81-82 over #3 ranked Yorkville. The defending state champions, Minooka (ranked #2) placed 3rd with 118 pts, while DGS (currently ranked #9) placed 4th with 159 pts. The Mustangs finished ahead of 2 higher ranked teams (#6 Hinsdale Central and #7 Batavia) and all 7 of the remaining top 25 ranked teams.
The only ranking that truly matters is the one following the state meet 8 weeks from now. But this has been a promising start to the season for a team filled with so many younger runners. Being able to go toe to toe with the best teams in the state, beating many of them, is a huge confidence builder.
Katie Stapleton (Sr) continued to lead the team as our top runner, placing 17th overall. Katie has been consistently strong in all of her races so far this season and is just one breakthrough race away from challenging some of the elite runners in the state. Becky Versaskas (So), Melissa Weidner (So), and Brenna Cohoon (Fr) have finished close together in each of our 3 races this season. Their pack has been the strength of our team so far. At Fenton, they all finished within 2 seconds of each other. On Saturday, they were separated by only 15 seconds and 7 places. Brenna finished 29th, Melissa finished 31st, and Becky finished 36th.
An important key to the second half of our season will be having a 5th runner step up to complete our scoring. At Yorkville, Kennedy Warden (Fr) was our 5th scorer while at Fenton, Olivia Duax (So) was the #5 runner. Yesterday in Peoria, Erin Reidy (Fr) stepped up her game and ran a great race to finish 5th for us. Erin placed 48th, and Olivia placed 121st, while Kennedy sat this race out. Also in contention for the varsity positions are Allison Calek (So) who finished 153rd yesterday, Kara Petersen (Sr) who placed 154th, and Gillian Thomas (Jr) who placed 156th.
In the Open race yesterday, Julie LaLonde (So) and Riya Bhasin (Jr) led the Mustangs with their 50th and 53rd place finishes in a field of nearly 600 runners. The two of them showed great teamwork, navigating the muddy course together the entire time, proving that pack running is a key component to cross country. Complete DGS individual times, splits, and places can be found on the Schedule/Results page. Results from the entire meet can be found HERE.