By JOE STEVENSON-
SILVER LAKE, Wis. – Katie Adams has been a force in high school cross country since she set foot on a course three years ago.
As outstanding as the Marengo senior has been – with back-to-back top-10 finishes in the IHSA Class 2A State Meet – Adams has found another gear this fall. She remained unbeaten when she obliterated her own course record Saturday at Fox River Park in Antioch’s Patricia Harland Invitational.
Adams finished in 17:41.34, breaking her own record by almost a minute, and beating Jacobs sophomore Lauren Van Vlierbergen (18:28.36), who took second. Van Vlierbergen also would have beaten Adams’ old record.
Jacobs’ girls won the team title with 36 points, 10 ahead of Marengo. Crystal Lake Central’s boys won the team championship with 45 points, led by individual winner Alex Baker. Jacobs (68) was second in that race.
“I feel great. This is showing all my training is paying off,” said Adams, who was ninth at state as a sophomore and seventh last year. “I’m very excited. In the past, I’ve had many setbacks. I’ve always trained hard and this is the first year that everything is coming together for me.”
Adams won the Antioch race all four years of her high school career.
“I wasn’t even that fresh and didn’t feel that good coming in because we had a hard week of training,” Adams said. “I didn’t believe it when I saw my time. I guess maybe my pace is that much faster [than before].”
Van Vlierbergen, Sam Baran (third) and Alex Lorenz (sixth) led the Golden Eagles girls team, which is ranked 15th in Class 3A by Illinois Prep Harrier. Marengo is No. 2 in Class 2A.
“That was pretty much our goal today: ‘Find those Marengo girls,’ ” Baran said. “We want to maintain that spot in the rankings.”
Baran finished third last week at Bartlett and improved her finish at Antioch last year by 10 spots. She chased Marengo’s Allie Sprague for the first 2 miles, then passed her in the last mile.
“I’ve never beat her before, she’s always been so far ahead,” Baran said. “I wanted to keep that momentum from last week, that was my best finish ever in a big meet. I don’t know where this is coming from. I guess it’s just learning when you get older.”
Jacobs coach Kevin Christian marvels at Baran’s progress through the season.
“Sam gets better and better through the race,” Christian said. “She starts slow and stalks people, then in that last mile she eats them up. She looks different in that last mile than every runner out there.”
At last week’s rugged Palatine Invitational, Central’s boys were 11th as a team and had a spread from third to 86th with their first five runners. The Tigers had their five scoring runners in the top 13 Saturday.
After Alex Baker came Zach Gemmel (eighth), Ryan Pitner (11th), Adam Baker (12th) and Mark Talarico (13th).
“[Central coach Bill] Eschman told me I’m a pretty big leader and if I pushed it at the beginning of the race, they would follow me,” Adam Baker said. “I’m kind of considered the team clown and they look up to me. This is my last year and I’m just trying to go hard.”
Ryan Ross was sixth and Matt Johnson was seventh to lead Jacobs.
Richmond-Burton was fifth as a team with 169 points, although the Rockets held out No. 2 runner James Kaht, who is nursing a foot injury, to get ready for the postseason in two weeks.