Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen excels at tough Falcon Classic

SHARE Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen excels at tough Falcon Classic
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Kevin Christian had no illusions as the flights at the 33-school Wheaton North girls cross country invitational unfolded in Warrenville over the weekend.

“Teams from Algonquin who have to come out here is asking pretty much,” Jacobs’ coach said of a field that included three of the top-four state finishers last season in defending champion Naperville North, eventual champion New Trier and preseason No. 1 Glenbard West.

The Eagles’ team score was determined not by the top five place-winners but via the individual finishers in seven flights.

Jacobs was 20th in the meet on Saturday.

Lauren Van Vlierbergen, the Eagles’ all-state returning junior, was third in the championship flight — behind only New Trier junior Mimi Smith and

Class 2A state contender Skyler Bollinger (Yorkville) — to flavor Jacobs’ best individual finish.

“I was really excited when I saw all the top girls in my race,” said Van Vlierbergen, who toured the 2.95-mile layout in punishing humidity in 17 minutes, 29.1 seconds. “[My teammates and I] were focusing on the best finishes we could get. I think I am doing pretty well [this season as a whole].”

The junior has invitational victories at St. Charles East and Bartlett to her credit thus far this fall.

Kathryn Van Vlierbergen, the freshman sister of Lauren, was the Eagles’ choice in the third flight.

“I didn’t start running seriously until track in eighth grade,” the younger Van Vlierbergen said of her first exposure to cross country. “I got an opportunity to run on varsity. I really just started [cross country], so I’m excited to see what I can do.”

The Falcon Classic served as an opportune time for Jacobs, which will see many of the same programs in its sectional complex.

“We were hoping to finish in the middle of the pack,” Christian said as the meet progressed. “[Wheaton North] is a little bit of a [scouting report] of the bigger schools we are used to facing.”

St. Charles North invite

St. Charles North hosted a top-notch co-ed invitational over the weekend, and Streamwood junior Gabby Juarez finished fifth in the girls varsity race to pace the Sabres’ eighth-place team finish.

“[Juarez] has actually been sick for the last three weeks,” Streamwood coach Dennis Lau said of Juarez touring LeRoy Oakes’ famed layout in 18:25.9. “This is by far the biggest breakout [performance] she has ever had in her career. She had never broken 19 minutes before.”

Lau is equally encouraged with the development of fellow junior Addie Kelly.

“[Juarez and Kelly] are kind of rotating back and forth [for the No. 1 team position],” Lau said. “If they can get around 18:05, that should lock them both in the state meet [as at-large qualifiers].”

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