The Class 2A cross country state meet will not be the final race for the Yorkville cross country program, but sets the stage for what the Foxes hope to be a historic November.
The Yorkville girls enter Detweiller Park looking for a fifth straight state championship and seventh trophy since 2009, with the Foxes earning runner-up finishes in the two years prior to their current title streak. Another state title would only boost Yorkville's already impressive resume before the Foxes head to the Nike Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, Ind., one week later on Nov. 15.
"That's a huge, huge meet. We've never finished better than eighth place there on the girls' side and right now we're currently ranked third," Yorkville head coach Chris Muth said. "We're extremely excited to compete in that after the state meet, but we're definitely not looking anywhere past this upcoming Saturday. If we don't get two two in that regional, it's all about your resume and there's nothing better than being a state champ. They know the emphasis is this week and this week only. They're really excited about it."
Teams from Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana will race for one of two spots in the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 5 in Portland, Ore. The Yorkville girls are ranked No. 12 in the nation – and third in the Midwest behind No. 4 Naperville North and No. 6 Carmel (Ind.), which just won the Indiana state championship.
Setting the state for the state finals, Yorkville girls posted another near-perfect score at last Saturday's Class 2A Wheaton Academy Sectional, scoring 17 points to easily defend their title and return to state. Montini (97) was a distant second with Lemont (105), Rosary (110) and Marist (135) advancing to state.
Alexis Grandys was the race winner, clocking in at 18:00 just ahead of runner-up Nicole Greyer, who crossed the line in 18:03. Maddie Dearborn was fourth in 18:22, Alyssa Edwards finished fifth in 18:28 and Summer Pierson finished eighth in 18:43 to round out the top five while Maggie Klemm was ninth in 18:43 and Olivia Borowiak placed 20th in 19:27.
"Our top two specifically ran really great, but we're so deep that it's going to take a good look at them this week to figure out who we're going to run on Saturday because there are so many good girls on this team that deserve the opportunity," Muth said. "This might be the seven that we run with, and it might not be at the end of this week."
The Yorkville boys also have created a rich postseason tradition, returning to Peoria for the ninth consecutive season. The Foxes have qualified every year since the IHSA created the three-class system in 2007, and return this fall as a two-time defending state champion. Yorkville is No. 3 in the Class 3A boys' state final rankings.
"The girls are going down as confident as can be and they just need to run their race to be successful and it's just another step in what they want to accomplish this year," Muth said. "The guys, although they're not ranked first or second, they're going in with a lot of confidence after last week and they're also going in knowing they're going to defend what's still theirs until someone takes it away from them. They're the defending state champs. They're going to make it as hard as possible for another team to take that away from them. I don't think it's pressure. I think it's a challenge, and if they run they're best we'll see what happens at the end of the day."
Yorkville won the sectional title with a score of 43, finishing ahead of Hinsdale South (78), Wheaton Academy (99), Lindblom (117) and Glenbard South (157), which all advanced to state. Hinsdale South's Charlie Nodus was the race champion with a time of 15:17.
For Yorkville, Trevor Wills was fifth overall in 16:08, Cody Hornyak placed sixth in 16:10, Alexx Nauman was ninth in 16:13 and Jake Firrantello placed 10th in 16:14 while Thor Hester completed the top five in 13th place, clocking in at 16:21. Patrick Black finished 16th with a time of 16:26 and Zack Price rounded out the top seven in 20th place with a time of 16:40.
"Jake has been on fire the last two races and he's been a great surprise – which shouldn't have been a surprise because he's ended every year on a really good note, but last week was a great team race on the guy's side," Muth said. "Hopefully we can put our name in the discussion to be a trophy team"