Junior Madeline Perez and her girls cross country teammates got off to an impressive start Sept. 1.
Perez not only won the talent-loaded Hornet-Red Devil Invitational at Katherine Legge Memorial Park in Hinsdale, but the Hilltoppers also won the team title in a field that included defending Class 3A state champion New Trier and 3A state runner-up Wheaton Warrenville South.
Perez covered the 3.0 miles in a course-record 16:59.40 to win by 14.08 seconds over New Trier senior Courtney Ackerman (17:13.48).
Glenbard West sophomore Lisa Luczak was a solid third (17:20.00), and freshman Caitlyn Reick (12th, 18:38.02), senior Emma Reifel (17th, 18:55.61), freshman Christina Sedall (18th, 18:58.02) and sophomore Megan Ozog (24th, 19:11.27) also earned individual medals for placing among the top 40. Junior Annika Manning (62nd, 20:36.54) and senior Kate Majewski (70th, 20:45.53) were the team’s seventh and eighth finishers.
Glenbard West beat New Trier 51-55 for the title with Palatine (50) third and Wheaton Warrenville South (139) fourth. New Trier and Wheaton Warrenville South had entered the meet ranked No. 1-2 in the pre-season 3A rankings by the Illinois Prep Harrier website. The Hilltoppers, who were ranked No. 5, are the new No. 1 team this week.
Perez, who was 15th at the 3A state meet last year, was among six runners in the race who earned 2011 all-state honors by placing among the top 25 at state – four of them finishing higher than Perez.
Fourth at last year’s Hornet-Red Devil Invite in 17:52.09, Perez broke the previous course record of 17:05.88 set by graduated champion Amanda Fox of Naperville Central, who went on to win the 3A state championship.
Ackerman was fourth at state last year, the second-highest finishing underclassman behind third-place Kaylee Flanagan of Lake Park.
Luczak finished 16.27 seconds ahead of New Trier sophomore Mimi Smith (4th, 17:36.27), who was 10th at state. Hinsdale Central senior and three-time all-stater Jill Hardies, fifth at state last year and second in 2010, was fifth (17:59.28) after being in second to Perez at the one-mile mark (5:21 to 5:28).
The Hilltoppers finished sixth at last year’s state meet (221 points) and only graduated No. 3 and 5 state finishers Maddie Nagle and Katie Born from the state lineup. The Hilltoppers, who haven’t earned a top-three team trophy in the sport since 1980, were 42 points behind third-place Naperville North and St. Charles East last year.
While Perez became the program’s first all-stater since 2002, Luczak was 53rd, followed by Reifel (82nd), Ozog (126th) and senior Cynthia Mote (136th). In 2010, the Hilltoppers finished 10th at state with Perez, Reifel, Majewski and junior Madeline O’Brien part of that state lineup.
Have photos from the meet? Share them with us and upload to the photo gallery!