The Yorkville cross country team is no stranger to the IHSA state course at Detweiller Park in Peoria, but an extra preview can never hurt.
The Foxes had an opportunity to check their summer training against some of the top teams in the Midwest at Friday night's Detweiller at Dark event. Over 1,000 watts of power lighted the course as the high school girls' race started at 9:15 p.m. and the boys followed at 10 p.m.
"It's always a great atmosphere," Yorkville coach Chris Muth said. "It's like an exhibition in any other sport – you take it semi-seriously, but you're there for the experience and team bonding, and the running at night and experience on the state course more than anything. It's something the kids shoot for in the summer; it's a short-term goal for them. At the end of the day, you're really a slave to the conditions and it was really hot and muggy out. They ran well for the conditions, so we were happy with that."
Yorkville – the five-time defending Class 2A state champions – put together the Dashing Disney Princesses squad with three returning All-State runners and captured second place behind Indiana's state championship team, the Carmel Distance Project, led by race winner Sarah Leinheiser's top time of 17:17.6 and runner-up Christina Geisler (17:37).
"Carmel is a state championship team and they have a lot of girls back," Muth said. "They beat us at the Nike Regionals – they were fourth place and we were fifth – so it's a good idea for what we'll have to shoot for. We're about 30 seconds behind them per person, and that's not overwhelming to make that ground up. It was great to see them just to get an idea of what we need to do."
Nicole Greyer led Yorkville with a sixth-place finish in 17:59, Alexis Grandys was 11th in 18:29 and Olivia Borowiak took 16th in 18:43 while Maddie Dearborn also finished in the top 20, clocking in at 18:46 to place 18th. Alyssa Edwards was 22nd overall (18:52) while Emily Eberhart (19:10), Julia Megazzini (19:32), Piper Buyansky (20:28), Samantha Moreno (21:15), Victoria Crawford (21:20), Mady Klebenow (21:21) and Emily Berge (21:43) also raced.
The Dashing Disney Princesses also raced against some familiar competition, as 2016 Yorkville graduate Summer Pierson put together an all-star team – Chicks with Kicks – that included four other college-bound runners: Batavia's Dakota Roman, Oswego's Maddy Kammerer and Julia Manzano and Yorkville alum Becca Jasutis. Chicks with Kicks took third place in the 28-team event.
In the high school boys' division, Mahomet-Seymour's MSDP squad captured first place with 65 points, led by Andrew Walmer's third-place time of 15:23. Whitney Young's Clayton Mendez was the overall winner in 15:08.
Yorkville's team – Spaceballs – took 10th overall. Alexx Nauman was 27th overall in 16:04 and Ben Summers clocked in at 16:35 to place 51st. Patrick Black (16:38), Matt Cox (17:10), Alex Loos (17:20), Eric Naumann (17:29), Ben Tholen (17:30), Tyler Jensen (18:06), Jacob Hernandez (18:43), Brett Rhodes (19:21) and Tyler Black (20:35) also competed.
"We're a work in progress. We have goals we've set and we're pretty far away from those right now, but I like this group and I like the way this group is bonding and becoming a team," Muth said. "If they can create that atmosphere first, we can get the runs in and get the workouts in. If they can handle their side of things, we'll make some big jumps this year. We're young, and we have a bunch of guys who have never run varsity before. It takes times, and it's a process."
Yorkville's cross country season officially opens on Aug. 10 with the first day of practice, and the Foxes return to Peoria on Sept. 10 for the First to the Finish Invite at Detweiller Park.
"We wanted to get a picture of who we are and what we can do. We have about a month and a half before we go back there, and we have a lot of work to do," Muth said.