PALATINE – That bit of pain in Lauren Opatrny’s right hip two months ago now seems like a distant memory.
The McHenry junior listened to her body, took precautions early in the season and pulled back on her training for three weeks. Opatrny looks all the better for it.
Halfway through the girls race at the IHSA Class 3A Palatine Regional Cross Country Meet, Opatrny seized control and was not seriously challenged. She won the individual title in 17:28, 11 seconds ahead of Palatine’s Sabina Yosif at Deer Grove East Park.
“In the beginning, there was a strong pack and I wanted to stick with them,” Opatrny said. “Then, during the second mile, the second-place girl really pace-pushed me and we separated. In practice yesterday, we did 400s and the last mile, I just did like I was in practice. It felt really good.”
Palatine won the girls team title with 28 points, followed by Barrington (87), Cary-Grove (100), Crystal Lake South (112), Lake Zurich (113) and Grant (128). Those teams advanced. McHenry will send Opatrny and teammates Katy Purich, Ellie Gioia and Brianna Ferguson on to next week’s Schaumburg Sectional. Dundee-Crown’s Anabel Aguirre-Michel also qualified. Purich finished seventh.
C-G was led by juniors Morgan Schulz (fifth) and Talia Duzey (11th). South, which won the Fox Valley Conference Meet for the first time in school history last week, packed its five runners between 19th and 28th to take fourth. Caitlin Bruzzini, Debra Tomlinson and Kiley Britten led the Gators finishing 19th through 21st.
“I’m pretty happy with the way we ran,” C-G coach Mark Anderson said. “Confidence-wise this was good. Freshman Sarah Caesar really ran outstanding in 27th and really changed our fortunes today. We’re not going to sectional to get our butts kicked. They know after Palatine, that 2-7 is open and if we keep our pack tight, they’re going to be right there.”
Opatrny is eager for the next two weeks with sectional and the IHSA Cross Country State Meet at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.
“All the practice is paying off,” she said. “All these big meets are so important. It’s so much fun and the team is so supportive. I’m feeling pretty good. I’m just so excited.”
Hononegah Regional: At Rockton, Jacobs ran to a regional championship with a 34-point performance. The Golden Eagles won by 19 over second-place Huntley. Lauren Van Vlierbergen of Jacobs took the top overall spot with a time of 17:22. Kayla Giuliano was second on the team with a finishing time of 19:32.
Huntley advanced to sectionals through its second-place finish. The Red Raiders were led by Kelly Meehleib, who finished with a time of 18:50. Kate Mitchell was second on the team with a final time of 19:39.
Burlington Regional: Crystal Lake Central claimed the regional championship behind a 47-point effort. The Tigers won by 13 over second-place Vernon Hills. Central was led by third place overall finisher Maddie Dagley, who crossed the line with a time of 18:33. Mary Fleming finished in 18:40 for a fifth-place finish overall.
Prairie Ridge also will advanceto sectionals after a fifth-place finish and 132-point performance. The Wolves were led by Erin Wagner, who finished in eighth with a time of 18:51.
Hampshire's Natalia Sztukowski finish 28th place to qualify as an individual.
Sterling Regional: Marengo claimed the regional championship by 20 points over Belvidere North. The Indians finished with 51 points. Kitty Allen finished third overall with a time of 18:04. Allie Sprague finished fifth in18:36.
Woodstock North Regional: Woodstock advanced to sectionals after finishing second. The Blue Streaks had 60 points, 15 off the pace of regional champ Lakes. Woodstock had the two top overall finishers with Maura Beattie in first with a time of 18:18 and Kate Jacobs in second in 19:14.
Richmond-Burton also qualified for sectionals. The Rockets finished fourth with 117 points.
Johnsburg and Woodstock North did not qualify in the team portion but did send a few individuals on to sectionals. Johnsburg's Delaney Pruitt finished 14th in 20:39, and Anna Fox claimed the last individual qualifying spot with a 38th-place finish. Isabella Mazzanti of Woodstock North finished 28th in 21:21.
Winnebago Regional: Harvard lost out on being regional champion after a tiebreaker. The Hornets and Byron tied for the top spot with 63 points, but Byron won the sixth-racer tiebreaker to take the championship. The Hornets still advance as a team to sectionals.
Jordan Peterson led the way for Harvard with her third-place finish in17:34. Daphne Austin was ninth (18:23) and Morgan Logan was 10th (18:24).
Marian Central also advanced to sectionals behind a fourth-place finish of 106 points. The Hurricanes were led by freshman Abby Jones, who took fifth in 17:57.