Competing among 31 teams, several ranked as the state’s best, Lincoln-Way Central outdid most on the Dellwood Park layout to help chart a good course for the rest of the season.
Lincoln-Way Central outraced Naperville North, Downers Grove North and Buffalo Grove, among other good squads, to finish fourth Saturday at the elite Lockport Invitational.
Lyons, the defending meet champion and third in the 2012 Class 3A state meet, totaled 115 to claim first ahead of Hinsdale Central (133) and Neuqua Valley (134).
Lincoln-Way Central scored 172 on a humid morning over the 3.1-mile course.
“Our runners had a chance to see some top quality competition,’’ Central coach John Taylor said. “It’s a good barometer to see where we’re at individually.
Central’s top five were Chris Kaminski (seventh, 16 minutes, 10 seconds), Ian Peterson (23rd, 16:33), Tommy Kolacki (38th, 16:46), Ben Zibricky (51st, 17:00) and Ben Alvarado (53rd).
“The team is looking great,’’ Kaminski said. “We did not run our best here, but we’ve been ahead of Lyons and Neuqua a couple times this year. We’re a tough team. We can turn it on at state.’’
Central grabbed fourth place ahead of Naperville North thanks to Nathan Coppens, the Knights’ sixth runner, finishing 54th ahead of Naperville’s sixth runner in 59th.
“Chris Kaminski once again ran a fantastic race,’’ Taylor said. “Ian Peterson is running outstanding as a sophomore. Tommy Kolacki is a solid runner. Ben Zibricky, Ben Alvarado, Nate Coppens and Andrew Robbins—those guys are all packed up together. That’s our key.’’
Central won meet titles this season at Lyons, Bremen, Edwardsville and Bartlett and had an impressive fifth-place finish at the Peoria First to the Finish Invitational.
“This is one of the strongest teams I’ve had,’’ said Taylor, Central coach since 2001. “Back in the early 2000s, we had a team go 11th at state. I think this team can crack the top 10 at state.’’
Downers North’s Zack Smith was the individual champion Saturday in 15:42, five seconds off his winning time last year.
Plainfield South’s Dan Lathrop finished third (15:58) in the field of 250 runners.
“There was a bunch of good guys running out there,’’ Lathrop said. “The first mile went out pretty fast. Smith got further ahead and really got out there.
“This is probably my favorite course. I like to run here because it’s a lot tougher than the other ones. It makes it more interesting.’’
Plainfield East all-stater Joseph Suarez ran despite a strained calf he suffered a week earlier. He finished ninth in 16:12, three seconds slower than last season.
“It’s been bothering me the entire week. I took off several days,’’ Suarez said. “I came back Thursday, easy runs. It was a game-time decision. I definitely had an off-day. I was not in it mentally.’’
Other local individuals among the top 25 were Lockport’s Will Giroux (15th), Joliet Central’s Salvador Lazaro (16th), Shepard’s Josh Maier (18th) and Brother Rice’s James Durkin (22nd).