SKOKIE — Niles West senior Christine Mujica won her first girls cross country invitational at the Wolves’ own meet over the weekend, but she said there’s room for her to get better before the Class 3A state series starts later this month.
A four-year varsity runner, Mujica finished first in 18 minutes, 11.91 seconds, on Saturday, finishing nearly 16 seconds faster than Woodstock’s Kate Jacobs.
“It’s the best effort I’ve put in to keep everything consistent, but my second mile still needs work,” Mujica said.
Mujica said she tends to put herself in cruise control during the second mile rather than pushing her pace faster. Niles West coach Anne Heselton said she’s noticed the same thing.
“She’s learning to max out, tap out,” Heselton said. “She’s figuring out how to press the entire race. You should always feel uncomfortable.”
Paced by Mujica, Niles West took 10th with 267 points. Oswego East won the title with 88.
The Class 3A Loyola Regional is Oct. 25 at Harms Woods in Skokie, and the sectional meet is back at Niles West on Nov. 1.
Heselton said Mujica has her sights set on earning all-state honors, which are awarded to the top 25 finishers at the Nov. 8 state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Mujica finished 97th in Class 3A as a junior.
“She is more than capable of it,” Heselton said. “There probably are 50 girls who are capable of it. It’s about putting the effort forth on that given day. You can’t shut down mentally.”
In the run-up to the Class 3A state series, Emma Dzwierzynski said she will be focusing on tightening up her form, especially during the last mile.
At Niles West’s invitational, the Evanston sophomore placed third in a time of 18:39.36 to help the Wildkits take third as a team with 121 points.
“I need to drop my arms more,” Dzwierzynski said. “I run with them really bunched up sometimes.”
Evanston coach Rosette Ochoa added that Dzwierzynski needs to keep her eyes forward during races and not worry about who is behind her.
“Her form does loosen up toward the end of races,” Ochoa said. “But she’s dedicated, and she’s training hard. She’s always ready to work, and these are things we will fix.”
The Wildkits will run at Harms Woods for the Class 3A Loyola Regional Oct. 25. Dzwierzynski advanced to the sectional meet as a freshman and is looking to qualify for her first state meet.
“I am feeling really good about the rest of the season,” Dzwierzynski said.
Freshman Lizzy Shaw finished ninth in 18:05.70 at Peoria Central’s invitational Saturday to carry the Titans to 10th place in the 49-team field. Glenbrook South finished with 313 points.
Glenbrook South coach Fred Kocian said that only Danielle DeVito has run a better time for the Titans at the meet. DeVito clocked a 17:50 in 2011.
It also was Glenbrook South’s best team finish in recent memory, Kocian added.
At Peoria Central’s invitational Saturday, sophomore Heather Schlitz finished 139th in 20:03.63 as the Spartans finished 29th with 849 points.