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Red Devils' Hardies Runs to Top-Five Finish at State

New Trier captured the team title and Wheaton Warrenville South finished second.

junior Jill Hardies finished ran three miles in 16 minutes, 59 seconds Saturday and finished in fifth place at the girls cross country Class 3A state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.  

Hardies joins 2009 graduate Elaine Kuckertz as the only Hinsdale Central runners to achieve all-state honors a program-best three times. Hardies was 17th as a freshman. 

Meanwhile, Wheaton Warrenville South achieved the highest team finish in program history as they took second as a team. The Tigers’ 144 points was a solid second to New Trier’s 82.

WWS had finished third three times before, including the previous two seasons. Kiple, who was 23rd (17:26), was an individual all-stater again with a top-25 finish on the 3-mile course.

“It was unbelievable when we heard we got second. Everybody was just hugging each other, it was a great feeling and I loved sharing it with all of my best friends,” Kiple said. 

“Just with all of the expectations and stuff, we really tried to ignore that and just focus on ourselves. We ran our race today, and all of the girls are just so close, so it was great to get second with all of these girls.”

Also earning all-state were Hardies, York junior Emma Fisher (12th, 17:12) and senior Kayla Spencer (20th, 17:26) and Glenbard West sophomore Madeline Perez (15th, 17:15).

St. Francis junior Kate Roback was an all-state 24th in the earlier Class 2A girls race (17:58).

St. Charles East (183 points) was an agonizing fourth, losing out on the final Class 3A team trophy to Naperville North on a sixth-runner tiebreaker. Glenbard West (6th, 221), York (8th, 244) also finished in the top 10, followed by Lyons Township (11th, 274), Downers Grove South (12th, 287), Benet Academy (16th, 389), St. Charles North (17th, 394) and Downers Grove North (21st, 448).

The Tigers’ success was just part of a great day for the DuPage Valley Conference. Besides Naperville North also taking third, Naperville Central senior Amanda Fox (16:24) won the title in a Class 3A-record time with Oswego East senior Ariel Michalek (16:37) second following her 2010 title in a then-record 16:32.

WWS juniors Hope Schmelzle (37th, 17:45) and Kayla Kightlinger (38th, 17:46) and senior Lauren Mordini (46th, 17:53) were strong No. 2, 3 and 4 team finishers with freshman Katie Popejoy 64th (18:07). Senior Hana Lobsinger (93rd, 18:27) and Amy Yong (97th, 18:31) were the Tigers’ No. 6 and 7 finishers.

The Tigers were the pre-season No. 1 team before finishing second at their season-opening invite to New Trier, which captured its program’s first state title and trophy. 

WWS continued to have a great season. They won the DVC Meet. After the Tigers finished second to Naperville North at both regionals and sectionals by a combined nine points, some outsiders began to question how well the team would perform at state.  

“We said to our kids earlier this week, ‘There’s nobody right now that believes in us except the people sitting in this room,’ ” Wheaton Warrenville South coach Rob Harvey said. “Before we knew we were second, I pulled our girls aside and said, ‘I am so proud of the race you just ran. I don’t care if it translates into a medal or trophy.’ They ran the best race they could today. We’re a true team.”

Experience played a key factor. Besides Kiple, two-time all-stater Mordini raced at state for the fourth time and Schmelzle her third and Kightlinger and Lobsinger their second. 

Kiple finished 22nd at state as a freshman and 11th at state last year, the program’s highest individual state finish, including the days as Wheaton Central days. That era includes the other third-place team finish in 1991 in Class AA.

“Coach Harvey is the best coach I’ve ever had and he’s always there for us. We knew we could pull it together (again),” Kiple said. 

“Our team never really doubted ourselves. We knew from the beginning of the year you don’t win the state meet in September. We just run our race and we raced really well today so I was really proud of all of my teammates.”

Fisher, 24th in her state debut in 2010, becomes only the sixth York runner to achieve multiple all-state honors. In her fourth state race, Spencer earned all-state for the first time after taking 51st last season.

Perez is the 12th all-stater for Glenbard West, which has never had any runner achieve all-state more than twice.  In May, Perez earned all-state track honors as part of the Hilltoppers’ sixth-place 3,200-meter relay. Her mother, Joelle, was an individual all-stater for St. Francis in girls golf, finishing third at the then one-class state meet 1987.

Perez was 29th at state last year, 13 seconds shy of 25th. Lockport senior Stephanie Sanders (25th, 17:28) was the final all-stater Saturday.

“It was definitely motivating. I trained really hard this summer and worked really hard to be able to get (all-state) this year,” Perez said. “Just coming into the meet, I wasn’t really thinking so much, ‘I’ve got to get all-state.’ I just wanted to run my best, and I know that everything’s going to fall into place, hopefully, from there.”

St. Charles East’s top finisher was freshman Toree Scull (29th, 17:38) with the other top-five runners 42nd, 44th, 60th and 85th versus Naperville North’s 31st-43rd-52nd-61st-68th. The Saints’ No. 6 runner was 186th while Naperville North’s was 117th.

Downers Grove South freshman Amanda Thate (28th, 17:36), St. Charles North senior Sydney Stuenkel (30th, 17:39), Lyons Township senior Alex Daemicke (32nd, 17:40) and Batavia freshman Lexi Slome (39th, 17:46) also finished among the top 40.

Roback had a close call in the 2A race. She was 21st with about 200 meters left, but she was hit by fatigue on the long final straightaway and struggled to get across the finish line. 

Roback, who had been 42nd and 48th in the her previous two state races, was three seconds ahead of 26th-place Chicago University junior Sarah Curci (18:01). Roback is the Spartans' ninth all-stater.

“I thought I was 26th, but it was a great surprise to hear that I was 24th,” Roback said. 

“We’ve been working really hard all year and the past couple of years. It’s just great to do so well. I didn’t think I was going to make it to the end. I just knew I had a little bit left and I had to push through and finish strong.” 

As a team, St. Francis was seventh (211), four points shy of fifth-place Fenwick, and Glenbard South (498) was 19th. St. Francis junior Jenna DiValerio was 32nd (18:16).

Mike Sandrolini November 07, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Congrats to Jill ,,, this is quite an accomplishment. Hinsdale Central's girls tennis for winning the state title--with Cusick and Lorenzini repeating as double champions--is obviously is the top sports highlight of the fall season at HC so far. But Jill's performance is right up there. What do you think?

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