Streamwood’s Gabby Juarez finished third at a girls’ cross country regional last year, but the senior left little doubt about who the runner to beat was at this year’s Class 3A Glenbard North Regional.
Juarez finished in 17:02.5, more than 13 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Sara Atkins of Wheaton Warrenville South. It wasn’t Atkins who provided Juarez with pre-race motivation, however.
“Last week, Audrey (Ernst) from St. Charles East beat me by six-tenths of a second, so beating her was definitely a goal,” Juarez said. “I beat her earlier this season so it’s kind of a rivalry.
“When I heard the mile at 5:50, that was like 20 seconds slower than last week, so I think that helped me out a little bit. I was able to take it easy.”
Ernst finished fifth behind Juarez, with East’s Torree Scull taking third and WW South’s Allison McGrath placing fourth.
The Tigers led the field, paced by Atkins, McGrath, and Mary Erdman, who placed ninth. WW South outpointed Geneva 56-60, followed by St. Charles North and St. Charles East. Wheaton North took fifth and Streamwood was sixth in qualifying entire teams to next week’s sectional meet at St. Charles East.
The Tigers may have been favored to finish atop the regional field at Glenbard North, but …
“You know what? Favored, shmavored,” WW South coach Rob Harvey said. “There’s no favorite. The goal is to qualify to the sectional and that’s it. We trained a lot for this, upped our mileage, and we just survived the battle.”
The Tigers had more good news in the boys’ regional meet that followed, as Kyle Cepeda dominated the field, winning with a time of 14:34.0. St. Charles East’s Mark Sciurba was second in 14:55.8 followed by Geneva’s Mitchael Deamantopulos in third.
Elgin’s Brandon Copeland and Logan Jostes finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Cepeda was matter of fact in describing his win and his approach to the day’s second and third placers.
“We did what we planned and worked on,” he said. “I don’t know (Sciurba and Deamantopulos) that well but that doesn’t really matter. You just push as hard as you can.”
St. Charles East earned top team honors for the boys, thanks to Sciurba, Jack Rzpecki (sixth), Will Muckian (eighth), and Mike Gerkin (ninth). The Saints earned a 40-72 edge over second-place Geneva.
Not bad for a team that wasn’t quite at its best.
“We wanted to have a good team race but we went easier last week than this week, so the guys’ legs don’t feel very good right now,” East coach Chris Bosworth said. “We’ve got a week to get our legs to feel good but it was a great team race.”
WW South, St. Charles North, Wheaton North, and Elgin rounded out the top six boys’ teams qualifying for next week’s sectional meet.