Geneva’s Mckenzie Altmayer crowned Upstate Eight River champ; Neuqua Valley takes Valley title

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Geneva runner Mckenzie Altmayer found she had a kick she didn’t know she had Saturday, while Neuqua Valley and Claire Costelloe displayed exactly the form they’ve had all season.

Altmayer won the Upstate Eight River crown and overall title, leading the Vikings to the River team crown. Costelloe joined forces with teammate Julia Pena to take fourth and fifth overall, starting a Neuqua Valley stampede to the UEC Valley crown.

“I’m not really a sprinter,” Altmayer said. “But I always just give it my all because every coach I’ve had tells us to finish strong.”

Altmayer passed up four other runners in the final quarter mile to come home in 17:50.4, a second ahead of St. Charles North’s Ashley England 1.5 seconds ahead of Metea Valley’s Kendall Cast, who won the Valley individual title.

“This is my first race back after an injury,” said Mckenzie, who finished fourth overall last year but has been plagued by leg, hamstring and knee problems lately. “I was just hoping to do as good as possible and help the team. I’ve been going through physical therapy.”

Geneva had 34 points to beat St. Charles East (66) and North (74) in the six-team River race.

The Vikings’ Emma McSpadden took sixth in the River (18:13.7), Kathryn Adelman seventh (18:23.6), Brooke Nusser eighth (18:24) and Gabrielle Thomson 12th (18:41.8) for the Vikings.

In the Valley race, Costelloe (17:55.4) and Pena (17:56.7) placed 2-3 behind Cast, then the Wildcats’ Caitlin Horn was seventh (18:42.2), Lauren Penkala 10th (18:58.2) and Amanda Borowski 11th (18:58.6). Costelloe and Pena were 4-5 overall, just ahead of Streamwood’s Gabby Juarez (18:03.4).

“Julia and I ran together most of the race and it helped us push each other,” Costelloe said. “Caitlyn and Julia are out there doing what they do and competing every week. Our No. 5 broke 19 and she hadn’t done that before and we have a freshman [Penkala] coming along every week.”

Neuqua had won the Joliet Steelmen Invite and Costelloe had been 16th at last year’s conference, but took second last week at the Blackhawk Stampede.

Metea Valley’s Cast (17:51.9) wasn’t worried about divisions in the UEC as she ran to a Valley title.

“I didn’t know who’s River, who’s Valley, I just know there’s separate ones,” she said. “I just tried picking it up at the end when I heard people cheering.

“I ran this course two or three weeks ago and ran about the same time.”

Metea Valley had 57 to finish 26 behind first-place Neuqua. West Chicago was third (65) in its first UEC Valley meet.

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