Girls Cross Country: Madeline Perez leads Glenbard West to sectional crown

Story Image Skokie Saturday 10-27-12
Sectional winner #52 Madeline Perez from Glenbard West leads second place finisher York's #297 Emma Fisher is the girl's sectional cross country race at Niles West HS in Skokie Saturday afternoon. | Kevin Tanaka for~Sun-Times Media.
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Updated: October 27, 2012 10:36PM

Almost two months ago, Glenbard West junior Madeline Perez and her teammates made a statement by beating defending Class 3A girls cross country champ New Trier to win the Hornet-Red Devil Invitational.

On Saturday, Perez and the Hilltoppers were at it again at the Class 3A Niles West Sectional. Perez cruised to the individual title by more than 23 seconds and Glenbard West, ranked No. 3 in 3A by the IlPrepHarrier website, beat No. 4 New Trier 60-68 for the team title with No. 2 Lake Park (75) finishing a close third.

All three teams advance to the 3A state meet next Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria along with No. 12 York (134) and No. 11 Maine South (138).

Beating a quality field was a nice way to go into the season’s stretch run. But Perez is looking ahead.

“I’m always happy to win,” she said. “But really my main focus is next week and I think that could be said for every girl in the state.

That’s what I focused on and that’s what my team focused on.”

Perez won in 16 minutes, 38.58 seconds, with York’s Emma Fisher taking second in 17:02.21. Glenbard West sophomore Lisa Luczek (17:11.03), New Trier’s Courtney Ackerman (17:13.17) and Lake Park’s Kaylee Flanagan (17:25.52) completed the top five.

The early pace was “very comfortable” for Perez, “almost a little easy compared to what it’s been the past couple weeks.”

She also was happy with the end of the race. “I was really happy with the last mile,” she said. “I just told myself, ‘It’s one mile left, push yourself and see how well you can do.’ ’’

Now it’s on to Peoria and the big stage.

“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t know where I was [compared to other top runners] or what to expect,” Perez said. “So I’m happy with how everything turned out, and the same for the team.

The girls really stepped up.”

Also finishing in the top 10 were New Trier’s Mimi Smith (17:27.67), Fenwick’s Olivia Ryan (17:27.89), Maine South’s Emily Leonard (17:36.21), New Trier’s Jessica Ackerman (17:38.94) and Glenbard East’s Lindsey Graham (17:50.06).

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