Marengo’s girls cross country team is led by senior Katie Adams, who likely will be a favorite at next week’s IHSA cross country state meet in the Class 2A girls race.
The Indians have a competitive, balanced team that is ranked No. 3 by running website Illinois Prep Harrier and should have a shot at a team trophy at state.
But Marengo is taking nothing for granted. Not after last year.
The Indians were set to make their second successive trip to state when they came up short in the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional, which might be the best in the state. Marengo had a subpar day in that race and only Adams made it to state.
“We may have overlooked the sectional a little bit and did not run well,” Marengo coach R.J. Meyer said. “I like where we’re at physically and mentally. They’re running with a little chip on their shoulders from last year.”
Which is a good thing.
Adams is unbeaten. No. 2 runner Allie Sprague is battling through a stress reaction in her left foot (the precursor to a stress fracture). No. 3 runner Katie St. Clair has been outstanding and Nos. 4 and 5 runners Kitty Allen and Lexi Olson have improved throughout the season. Meyer said the Belvidere Sectional – which has No. 3 Marengo, No. 4 Kaneland and No. 5 Crystal Lake Central – will come down to the Nos. 4 and 5 runners.
“We have a really good shot at making it to state and doing well,” Sprague said. “I’m excited to see where it takes us. We have a really deep team. Definitely this year we’re focused on just getting to state.”
Marengo made it two years ago and thought it would be there last year. That disappointment attributes to the chip Meyer mentioned. The Indians beat Central, last year’s Class 2A state runner-up, earlier this year, but could not beat Jacobs, which is No. 9 in the Class 3A girls rankings.
“We really challenged ourselves at the Antioch Invitational (which Jacobs won) and competed with Jacobs,” Meyer said. “We’re in a really good spot.”
Stress-ing out: Sprague, a junior, and Jacobs sophomore Lauren Van Vlierbergen have battled through the past month of the season with similar injuries. Like Van Vlierbergen, who won the Fox Valley Conference Meet championship and led her team to the title, Sprague has done limited running and been doing most of her training in the swimming pool at Centegra Health System in Huntley.
Sprague wears a boot for protection most of the time at school and away from practice. She has been running mainly on Wednesdays with the team, then training in the pool on other days.
“It started bothering me at Kaneland (on Sept. 15),” Sprague said. “I felt it two weeks before that in practice. I take a lot of Advil, it’s been hurting for a while. The boot gives it as much rest as I can. I’ve been wearing it for two or three weeks.”
Sprague ran for the Indians when they won the Big Northern Conference Meet, but sat out last week’s Belvidere North Regional, which Marengo won without her.
“We hammer her pretty hard on Wednesdays, then she does everything else in the pool,” Meyer said.
Florida-bound: Four local players – Huntley’s Colin Lyman, Huntley’s Bryce Only, Prairie Ridge’s Bryan Klendworth and Cary-Grove’s Daniel Vilardo – will play in the Perfect Game World Championship baseball tournament in Jupiter, Fla.
Hampshire coach John Sarna and Vilardo will be with the Chicago Scouts Association. Lyman and Klendworth are with former White Sox player John Cangelosi’s team and Only will play with the Midwest Reds.
Lyman has committed to Louisville and Only has committed to Nebraska.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald.
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You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.