A perfect tuneup for West, MichalekOswego East runner Ariel Michalek finishes in a distant first place in the West Aurora Stampede Cross Country Meet at Marmion High School in Aurora on Saturday October 8th, 2011. Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 8, 2011 7:54PM
It’s October, so it’s time for the cross country season to start getting serious.
With the conference meets a week away and the state series starting Oct. 22, the Blackhawk Stampede was the final regular-season tuneup for teams involved, and the host West Aurora boys made the most of it by placing three runners in the top-10 and capturing second place with 75 points. Wheaton Warrenville South won the meet with 46 points and Neuqua Valley (94 points) placed third.
Marmion (152) finished sixth, Yorkville (157) seventh, Oswego East (250) was eighth, Batavia (303) placed 11th, Waubonsie Valley (386) was 15th and Geneva finished with 494 points and in 17th place.
“They did a great job, I was really pleased,” said West coach Matt Sinnott. “They got out there to compete. I think we are right where we want to be, we are progressing the way we want.”
Willowbrook’s Pat Niyork jumped out to an early lead and coasted to the race win on the 3.1-mile course at Marmion Academy in 15:35. West senior Omar Gomez finished second in 15:49 and Alekh Meka of Neuqua Valley took fifth. Josh Robertson was ninth in 16:15 for West and Calvin Robertson finished 10th, one second later.
“People were afraid to go with the top guy, and it was a good idea not to,” Gomez said. “It was a good race. We took it out at a comfortable pace and the last mile was all out.”
The girls’ race followed almost the same script, as Oswego East senior Ariel Michalek broke from the pack early and cruised to the win in 18:01. She feels she is on track to have the opportunity to defend her title as the Class 3A individual champion in Peoria in four weeks.
“I didn’t hear any of my splits, so I just kept trying to run my pace, and I felt OK about the race,” Michalek said. “I think I am pretty good where I’m at, I’m ahead of where I was last year so I want to decrease my time and by state I’m in the 16:30 (range) so I can run with the pack and see who is going to win it.”
Rachel Cavender from West Aurora was fourth in 18:43 and Lexi Slome of Batavia was fifth in 19:16. Teammate Rachel Spalding also earned a top-10 finish, coming home ninth in 19:24.