By JOE STEVENSON -
WOODSTOCK – Since Jacobs sophomore Lauren Van Vlierbergen had not run in almost two weeks, she came to the Fox Valley Conference Cross Country Meet with modest expectations.
She certainly did not expect to win.
“I was going to be satisfied with anything in the top three,” said Van Vlierbergen, whose recently was limited by a stress injury in her left foot to riding a stationary bicycle and running in a swimming pool.
Van Vlierbergen was much better than that. So were her teammates.
Behind Van Vlierbergen’s individual championship, the Golden Eagles put their five scoring runners in the top 20 Saturday to win the FVC Meet at Emricson Park with 50 points. Crystal Lake Central (69) was second and Cary-Grove (100) was third. It is Jacobs’ first FVC Meet title since 1986.
Crystal Lake Central won the boys team title behind Alex Baker’s first-place finish. The Tigers had 59 to edge Jacobs by four points. McHenry was third with 67.
“I ran [Friday] to see what it was like and it felt really good,” said Van Vlierbergen, who won in 18:01.6. “I feel a lot better now. I went out with the top girls and pulled ahead in the third mile.”
McHenry’s Lauren Opatrny was second, Woodstock’s Maura Beattie was third and Central’s Sami Staples, the defending champion, was fourth. Jacobs’ Sam Baran (eighth), Alex Lorenz (10th), Kayla Giuliano (11th) and Tori Tamburrino (20th) finished the scoring and earned All-FVC honors.
“We’ve been waiting for them to all put it together, 1 through 5, on the same day, and today they did that,” Jacobs coach Kevin Christian said. “Lauren came in a little banged up and looked better than she’s ever looked. If we keep running like that, we’ll be running in Peoria [at the IHSA Girls Cross Country State Meet].”
Staples has been battling bronchitis and is taking three different inhalers, twice a day, to try and get better.
“I gave it my best shot,” Staples said. “Those other girls really came ready to run and ran awesome.”
Central’s boys held on to win despite losing Mark Talarico, normally one of their scoring runners, who fell during the race and was taken away from the park by ambulance. Tigers coach Bill Eschman later said Talarico was OK and thought he had been clipped from behind and fallen during the race.
Jacobs placed its sixth runner ahead of Central’s fifth, but the Tigers still eked out the victory.
“We figured that,” Eschman said. “Jacobs is not a team that’s going to give up. We beat them last season, then they beat us at the conference. We just had to come out and do our job together.”
Baker, Prairie Ridge’s Joe Cowlin and McHenry’s Jesse Reiser separated themselves from the group by the second half of the race. Baker won in 15:36.4, followed by Cowlin (15:41.5) and Reiser (15:50.3).