In her first season competing with the Yorkville girls cross country team, junior Kailey Fox quickly is realizing her potential.
“A big change but a good change,” said Fox, 88th at Class 1A state last year for Peotone before transferring in December. “I was really motivated this season. The training is so much better and I knew that I would improve a lot. Just being part of a team and running with a team, running for them, is good.”
It’s so far, really good for the Foxes again this season.
On Wednesday, they placed second in the talent-filled Twilight Invitational at Naperville North, four days after winning the University of Minnesota’s Roy Griak Invitational in Falcon Heights, Minn.
Yorkville, second in 3A last season, finished second Wednesday to defending state champion Naperville North 70-80 with Downers Grove South (103) third. The Foxes beat both teams in Minnesota to earn the state’s top ranking entering this week.
Fox, who finished the 3.0-mile course in 17 minutes, 39.1 seconds, and Eberhart (17:40.0) were sixth and seventh Wednesday. Sophomore Helena Kleronomos (12th, 17:57.8) also was a top-20 medalist and sophomore Sara Klemm (25th, 18:33.5) and senior Olivia Borowiak (30th, 18:49.4) were top 30.
Naperville North’s top-five finishers were 3-13-15-17-22. The Twilight field included eight of the top 10 finishing teams at 3A state last year and eight of the 13 non-senior, top-25 all-state finishers, including Kleronomos (17th) and Eberhart (22nd).
“We ran hard. It was a quick turnaround from Griak so we were all feeling it a little bit, but I think we did really well,” Eberhart said. “Like [Yorkville coach Chris Muth] said, [Griak] was one of the biggest invites our school has ever won so that was a really fun thing to be a part of.”
In Minnesota, Kleronomos (13th), Eberhart (15th), Fox (18th), Klemm (24th) and sophomore Hailey Simmons (50th) were the Foxes’ top five in beating Naperville North 104-113 with Downers South (170) third – all ahead of the nation’s top-ranked Wayzata (Minn.) with 185.
Last season, with just one senior, Yorkville runners qualified as a team for the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. by finishing second to Naperville North at the Midwest Regional.
Borowiak’s continued progress from a quadricep injury has this season’s lineup further encouraged.
“Our goal is definitely state, to do as well as we possibly can, and then hopefully someplace after that as well,” Eberhart said. “Everybody’s kind of unique in their own way and we kind of merge together and fill the different pieces of the puzzle that make it such a fun team.”
In the boys Twilight race, Yorkville sophomore Ivan Westcott (14th, 15:49.7) was a medalist for the 12th-place Foxes.