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Cross Country: Alyssa Edwards, Yorkville have Naperville North in their sights at state

Foxes are sending both boys and girls teams to Peoria

Yorkville's Alyssa Edwards (1762) heads for the finish in 2016 during the girls class 3A state final race at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Yorkville's Alyssa Edwards (1762) heads for the finish in 2016 during the girls class 3A state final race at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

Ask Alyssa Edwards, it’s pretty simple.

She just plans to run her own race. So will her Yorkville teammates.

The Foxes no doubt have their sights set on defending Class 3A champion Naperville North at this week’s state cross country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria, along with a handful of other teams that figure to be in contention.

Edwards respects the competition, but doesn’t dwell on it.

“We are pretty true to ourselves and know how we race,” said Edwards, a Yorkville senior committed to run collegiately at Toledo. “We may say strategically say that we need to be here at this certain time in a race. But for the most part we race like normal.”

It’s worked all season, and it worked at last weekend’s supersectional in downstate Granite City.

Yorkville’s boys and girls swept the team championships.

The girls, with 26 points, easily topped runner-up Minooka (73). Edwards won the race in 16 minutes, 52 seconds, with teammates Helena Kleronomos (third, 17:16), Emily Eberhart (fifth, 17:35) and Olivia Borowiak (sixth, 17:40) joining her in the top 10. Freshmen Hailey Simmons (17:48) and Sara Klemm (17:57) were 11th and 13th, respectively.

“I couldn’t be happier with where the girls are at,” Yorkville coach Chris Muth said. “They ran with confidence and purpose. They all took care of their individual stuff, and together that makes a great team race.”

Yorkville’s boys, with 84 points, edged Lockport (95). Ben Summers (eighth, 15:20), Ivan Wescott (10th, 15:24) and Matt Cox (12th, 15:24) were the Foxes’ top three finishers.

Edwards looks forward to a full bus to Peoria this weekend, girls and boys teams.

“It’s definitely one team,” Edwards said. “I always say that my team is like my second family. I don’t know what it would be like without having the boys there. We always travel together, we always do team bonding. It’s good to have that team culture.”

Yorkville’s girls program won five straight Class 2A championships from 2011-15, then took second to Naperville North in 2016 after being bumped up to Class 3A.

Naperville North, No. 1 again, is the favorite this weekend, but Edwards seems to think Yorkville is ready to challenge. Yorkville in September took sixth at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota that Naperville North won, and took second to the Huskies at the Twilight Invitational in Naperville the first Wednesday in October among three meetings between the two programs.

“They have been decently ahead of us,” Muth said, “but we have been possibly closing the gap. We haven’t seen them in a month.”

Naperville North is ranked No. 3 nationally by MileSplitUSA, with Yorkville No. 16.

“I would say we are stronger than the last time we saw them,” Edwards said. “With all the girls hopefully feeling better mentally and physically, hopefully we can give [Naperville North] a run for their money.”

Downers Grove South, Edwardsville, Wheaton Warrenville South, Barrington and Glenbard West – the latter with individual favorite Katelynne Hart – figure to be in contention looking up at seven-time champion Naperville North.

“I think there is a solid group of five to six teams shooting for trophies,” Muth said. “State weekend, anything can happen, but Naperville North is by far the favorite. We just have to run our best race and put up the best times and try to put the pressure on Naperville.”

Edwards was 31st individually at state last year, but has made a significant improvement this season. She’s looking forward to one last race at Detweiller.

“Of course I have personal goals, but I try not to think about that too much. Most importantly I want to have my team do well and I know we can,” Edwards said. “After this last weekend at sectionals I think teams are looking at us more.”

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