Lauren Van Vlierbergen could not hide her disappointment in the aftermath of her sectional-championship performance at Waubonsie Valley last week.
The Jacobs junior bested Maria McDaniel and Elly DeTurris from defending Class 3A girls cross country state champion Naperville North on the three-mile layout in Aurora.
But the Eagles’ team result was uppermost on her mind.
“I wish my team was going down with me,” said Van Vlierbergen, who was All-State in both cross country and track and field her sophomore year. “I knew there was going to be a lot of good competition [at Waubonsie Valley].”
The large-division girls race Saturday at Deweiller Park in Peoria will showcase a plethora of future Division I athletes.
Madeline Perez won the high school version of the distance racing triple crown last year with wins in Peoria — where the Glenbard West senior set the all-time state record — and 1,600- and 3,200-meter wins at the state track meet in the spring.
“[Perez] is so good,” Van Vlierbergen said. “Realistically, I would very happy to be in the top five. I didn’t use to like [the Detweiller course]. I haven’t thought of a strategy yet. I am going to take [the coming days] to get mentally prepared.”
Van Vlierbergen was seventh at the state meet last year.
St. Charles North qualified for the fifth time in program history with its fifth-place finish at Waubonsie Valley. Ashley England has eyes on becoming an all-state product for the North Stars following her fourth-place finish in Aurora.
“All season we have been aiming for (England) to be an All-Stater,” St. Charles North coach Shari Hayes said.
Nina Olshever, Kaylee Wessel, Katie Francissen , Allie Chen, Madison Kaufmann and Audrey Blankenship round out the North Stars’ state contingent.
“I talked to girls about aiming for 15th on Saturday,” Hayes said. “We have been 17th the last two times [qualifying for state]. One of our goals this year is not to finish 17th again.”
Gabby Juarez has visions of joining Paulina Garcia in the pantheon of All-State runners from Streamwood.
The Sabres junior, rebounding from an extended regular-season illness, was behind only Van Vlierbergen (sixth overall) in becoming one of seven at-large state qualifiers out of Waubonsie Valley.
Torree Scull, All-State in track and field last spring in the 800, was the lone competitor from St. Charles East to qualify for the finals in Peoria.
“I try to use my [track] speed as an advantage,” Scull said after placing seventh overall Saturday in Aurora.