On Saturday, September 4, the DGS girls cross country team traveled to Fenton HS in Bensenville, to take part in the John Kurtz ‘Earlybird’ Invitational. Temperatures were moderate in the low 70’s which brought a renewed enthusiasm after several weeks of extremely hot weather. It was also the first invitational meet that DGS was allowed to compete in since 2019, and that itself was another boost of energy. The Mustangs came home with team championships on both the Varsity and JV levels in the 23 team competition. The Frosh/Soph team placed a very respectable 5th overall.
The varsity team took to the starting line first, and the duo of Sophia McNerney (Sr) and Holly Johnson (Fr) charged to the front of the race. Sophia set a brisk pace, getting to the 1 mile mark in roughly 5:40. Holly was close behind along with a pair of all-state runners, Ally Negovetich from Grant, and Anna Harden from Hersey. Sophia led the foursome for the first half of the race when she suffered a setback after stepping awkwardly on a tree root. Negovetich seized the opportunity and took the lead, and eventually won the race in an excellent time of 17:35. Holly also moved up in the final mile to finish in 2nd place with an equally impressive time of 17:44. The DGS freshman really shined in her first ever high school race. Sophia showed her competitiveness, gutting out the final part of the race and finishing in 4th place with a fine time of 18:00. Kelsey Casella (Sr) ran a more patient race, starting out around somewhere in the teens, and slowly moving up throughout the race. By the time Kelsey made it to the finish chute, she had garnered herself 7th place out of 163 competitors. The combination of McNerney, Johnson, and Casella will be as strong of a 1-2-3 as you will find in the state.
A pair of seniors, who are both dealing with various injuries, completed the DGS scoring five. Madi Sisson (Sr) has spent as much time in the pool and she has the roads this season and she came out and ran a strong race. Madi finished the race in 22nd place, running 19:24. Alex Spang (Sr) has battled both illness and injury over the past couple of weeks, but was able to anchor the winning team with a time of 19;59 and a 29th place finish. Nora Joy (Jr) ran a steady race, finding her position early in the race, and holding on all the way to the finish. Nora finished the 3.0 mile course in 20:11 and placed 33rd overall.
The remaining varsity runners (ten in all) were all juniors, looking to make their mark in their first varsity invitational race. Elizabeth Culcasi (Jr) showed early promise, but fell victim to nagging injury that forced her to drop from the race. The other three, Skyler Tomecki (Jr), Arianna DeLeon (Jr), and Lindsay Spear (Jr), ran most of the race within arms length of each other. They finished nearly the same way, all within 10 seconds of each other. Skyler was first into the chute with her 61st place finish in 21:07. Arianna come in next, finishing 64th in 21:14 with Lindsay close behind, finishing 65th in 21:17. Overall, the varsity group ran a very good first race of the season, that shows a lot of promise over the next 2 months. The Mustang victory was the 5th straight Fenton championship; a streak dating back to 2016.
The frosh/soph group was next out on the course. Despite missing a couple of top runners, the younger athletes made some good progress with their 5th place finish. Rachel Rodi (So) ran with a lot of enthusiasm, taking the lead early on in the race before eventually finishing in 7th place with a good time of 20:23. Rodi came on strong at the end of last season, and this race was a good springboard for making that happen again this season. Sophie Ring (So) ran a solid race, challenging the front runners during the first mile before eventually finishing in 12th place in 20:52.
A trio of DGS freshmen completed the scoring positions and received some valuable experience in the process. Mar Duran (Fr) led this group, slowing moving up throughout the race to end up finishing in 47th place in 22:47. Mikaela Cresse (Fr) ran well to finish in 67th in 23:32. And Juliana Conyer (Fr) ran 23:49 for her 79th place finish. Abbey McGinley (So), Lilliana Jaeger (So), and Ashley Cotner (Fr) all finished close together in 109th, 111th, and 114th places respectively. Zaina Dakak (So) finished in 205th, Claudia Godowski (Fr) finished in 244th, and Rachel Hrubec finished in 251st.
Downers Grove South showed some depth in the final JV race, easily winning the team title and filling up most of the front positions in the race. Renee Kowalski (Sr) started the race further back during the first mile, but worked her way up into 2nd place during the second mile. Renee challenged for 1st place in the 3rd mile, briefly taking the lead at one point, but the eventual champion from Vernon Hills was able to close out the race. That left Renee in 2nd place with a good time of 21:25. A pair of Mustangs worked together the entire race to take the next two finishing places. Madelyn Sumlin (Jr) and Madolyn Werner (Sr) pushed each other throughout and it culminated in 3rd and 4th place finishes in 21:36 and 21:37, respectively. Sara Homberg (Sr) was with Sumlin and Werner for the first half of the race, but fell slightly back to 6th place for the finish.
Angie Hernandez (Sr) and Emma Lopez (Sr) both ran well to finish in 11th and 16th places overall in the 150 person race. Junior, Emily Mordaunt was in a top 30 position most of the race, but was unable to finish the last 400m. Anjali Kota (Jr) had a good showing with her 40th place. She was followed by Ava Nichols (Sr) and Bella Lapacek (Sr) in 56th and 57th places, as well as Scarlett Pacheco (Sr), and Summer Kruk (Sr) in their 60th and 61st places. Isabella Gutierrez (Jr) was the final Mustang into the finish chute with her 66th place finish. It was a great way to finish off the morning, watching all of the Mustangs near the front of this race, showing off what hard work can result in.
All individual times, splits, and places can be found the Schedule & Results page. The Mustangs will travel to Willowbrook HS on September 13th for a triangular meet with Proviso East. On Saturday, September 18th, DGS will travel to Peoria for the Richard Spring Invitational hosted by Peoria Notre Dame HS.