ELGIN – Any disappointment Crystal Lake South senior Mackenzie Aldridge might have felt about not repeating as Fox Valley Conference champion was made more palatable by who it was that finished ahead of her.
South freshman Bella Gonzalez edged the defending champion by eight-tenths of a second Saturday at the FVC Cross Country Meet at Plato Township Park. It was the Gators’ fourth girls individual title in four years, as Gonzalez joined Caitlin Bruzzini (2015, 2016) and Aldridge (2018) on that list.
Huntley won the girls team title with 49 points, ahead of Cary-Grove (66) and South (79).
Huntley’s Ian Geisler, the FVC runner-up last year, won the boys individual title, while McHenry won the team title for the first time since 1985 with 38 points. The Warriors put all seven of their runners in the top 13. Huntley (73) finished second.
“I’m really happy and excited,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of effort the entire season, and it feels like it’s paying off, all the summer training and this fall.”
Gonzalez and Aldridge broke away midway through the race with McHenry’s Lydia Zancho. Gonzalez finished in 18:19.6, Aldridge was second in 18:20.4, and Zancho was third in 18:23.3.
“It definitely wasn’t what Bella and I were expecting,” Aldridge said. “We were expecting a couple other girls to run with us the whole race. We didn’t want to take the lead, but within the first 300 [meters] we took the lead. That wasn’t the plan, but we stuck with that.”
Huntley’s girls put their five scoring runners in the top 15, led by Molly Allen (fourth) and Bailey Wilk (sixth). Twins Breanna and Brittney Burak (10th and 14th) and Genevieve Collatz (15th) were the Red Raiders’ other scoring runners.
“We knew we had to pack it up and keep pushing forward,” said Wilk, the only senior in the top five. “This was a big goal of ours. We have three really good freshmen [Allen and the Buraks], and they’ve been able to push up with the front. That’s been a huge help to the other half of the varsity team.”
Geisler continued with his strong season as he shoots for another Class 3A All-State finish in three weeks. He finished in 15:20.3, 11 seconds ahead of Burlington Central’s Anthony Farmer (15:31.2) and Cary-Grove’s Maxum Caesar (15:43.4). Farmer ran with Geisler for most of the race.
“I finally made my move with about a half-mile to go,” Geisler said. “I like to make it there to decisively do it and make sure it doesn’t come down to a kick. I feel very confident. I look forward to getting in quality competition going into regionals and sectionals and even state.”
McHenry’s Jessi Garcia was fourth, and the Warriors' next six runners (Ian Knebl, Carlos Montes, Enrique Robles, Dylan Jensen, Jackson Albanese and Caleb Schopen) finished between seventh and 13th.
“We had a little bit of good fortune,” Warriors coach Kevin Horst said. “Huntley, Jacobs and Cary-Grove were ahead of us [last year] and graduated a lot as our boys were kind of coming up. A little bit of good timing, but I can’t take anything away from what they did. They just ran awesome today. They totally came through.”
The Warriors finished 8-0 in their FVC dual races, unbeaten for the first time since 1990.
“This season has been amazing,” Knebl said. “It is, by far, the best season I have participated in my entire career. We were totally prepared and did everything we thought we were going to do.”
Garcia, a senior, as is Knebl, had been looking forward to this postseason for some time.
“We were dreaming about this since I was a sophomore,” Garcia said. “We actually were committed to feel this great.”
At Plato Township Park, Elgin
Team scores: 1. McHenry 38, 2. Huntley 73, 3. Burlington Central 114, 4. Crystal Lake Central 117, 5. Jacobs 144, 6. Cary-Grove 157, 7. Hampshire 169, 8. Crystal Lake South 184, 9. Dundee-Crown 199, 10. Prairie Ridge 264.
Individual results (top 19 are All-FVC): 1. Ian Geisler (Hunt) 15:20.3, 2. Anthony Farmer (BC) 15:31.2, 3. Maxum Caesar (CG) 15:43.4, 4. Jessi Garcia (McH) 15:50.8, 5. Austin May (CLC) 16:01.4, 6. Ian Barnes (CG) 16:02.3, 7. Ian Knebl (McH) 16:03.2, 8. Carlos Montes (McH) 16:05.8, 9. Enrique Robles (McH) 16:11.5, 10. Dylan Jensen (McH) 16:17.2, 11. Jackson Albanese (McH) 16:17.9, 12. Charlie Kucz (Hunt) 16:23.8, 13. Caleb Schopen (McH) 16:24.2, 14. Alex Picchi (CLS) 16:25.6, 15. Robert Perry (BC) 16:25.7, 16. Ryan Besch (Hunt) 16:25.7, 17. Peter Tomson (Jac) 16:25.7, 18. Aidan Gonzalez (Hamp) 16:26.0, 19. Gio Martinez (BC) 16:27.5.
At Plato Township Park, Elgin
Team scores: 1. Huntley 49, 2. Cary-Grove 66, 3. Crystal Lake South 79, 4. Prairie Ridge 84, 5. Crystal Lake Central 140, 6. Burlington Central 160, 7. McHenry 161, 8. Jacobs 167, 9. Hampshire 235, 10. Dundee-Crown 296.
Individual results (top 19 are All-FVC): 1. Bella Gonzalez (CLS) 18:19.6, 2. Mackenzie Aldridge (CLS) 18:20.4, 3. Lydia Zancho (McH) 18:23.3, 4. Molly Allen (Hunt) 18:34.4, 5. Morgan Dieschbourg (CG) 18:41.5, 6. Bailey Wilk (Hunt) 18:46.1, 7. Kylie Smith (CLC) 18:54.7, 8. Colette Janik (PR) 18:54.7, 9. Maggie Mason (CG) 19:06.2, 10. Breanna Burak (Hunt) 19:10.0, 11. Delaney Blohm (CG) 19:16.7, 12. Rylee Lydon (PR) 19:17.0, 13. Rachel Soukup (PR) 19:17.2, 14. Brittney Burak (Hunt) 19:21.2, 15. Genevieve Collatz (Hunt) 19:33.9, 16. Brooke Barkocy (BC) 19:37.8, 17. Addie Frisch (CLS) 19:39.0, 18. Annie Ferrero (CLC) 19:40.5, 19. Aly Doherty (Jac) 19:43.5.