Girls cross country sectional preview: New Trier begins title defense in fine form
Maine South's Emily Leonard (402) makes her way through Harms Woods in Skokie during the regional cross country meet Saturday. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
1. New Trier, 33 points
2. Maine South, 46
3. Glenbrook North, 86
4. Loyola, 96
5. Evanston, 121
6. Niles West, 140
7. Glenbrook South, 187
1. Jessica Ackerman, New Trier, 17 minutes, 23 seconds.
2. Emily Leonard, Maine South, 17:30
3. Mimi Smith, New Trier, 17:37
4. Courtney Ackerman, New Trier, 17:42
5. Valerie Bobart, Glenbrook North, 18:10
6. Megan Lemersal, Maine South, 18:32
7. Mirae Mastrolonardo, Maine South 18:33
8. Allie Herriott, Glenbrook North, 18:41
9. Sarah Kelly, Loyola, 18:47
10. Katherine Weber, Glenbrook North, 18:50
Updated: October 26, 2012 7:19PM
SKOKIE — Senior Jessica Ackerman was a lot less emotional than twin sister Courtney when asked about competing in her final state series.
Jessica Ackerman doesn’t want to think about anything other than running two more races and defending New Trier’s state championship next month at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
She got off to a good start Saturday at Loyola’s regional at Harms Woods, finishing first in 17 minutes, 23.09 seconds.
“It does feel strange that it’s our last season,” said Jessica, who has been a star, along with Courtney, on the Trevians all four years. “But I am treating it as another season. I don’t want to invest that much time thinking about anything else right now. It just want to stay positive.
“I know it will all hit me when the season is over.”
Courtney, who used Saturday’s regional as more of a training day, finished fourth in 17:42.06. Sophomore Mimi Smith took third place in 17:37.47 as the Trevians won the team title with 33 points.
Freshmen Oona Jung-Beeman (11th, 18:55) and Kelli Schmidt (14th, 18:57) also contributed to the championship.
“Next week will be a lot better,” Courtney said of the sectional race at Niles West. “There will be a lot more competition, and it will bring out the best in every runner. I love those kind of races.”
Five teams will qualify out of the sectionals for the Nov. 3 state meet. In addition to the Trevians, Maine South, Loyola, Glenbrook North, York, Lake Park and St. Ignatius are among the other challengers.
Glenbrook North’s top three are hitting their stride at the home stretch of the season.
Saturday proved that.
Senior Valerie Bobart, junior Allie Herriott and senior Katherine Weber all posted top 10s at Harms Woods. Bobart ran with the lead pack and finished fifth in 18:10.
“It’s obviously hard running against New Trier and Maine South, but I was happy with my time and place,” Bobart said. “We are going to be fighting for that fifth spot next week, but we have been improving every week. We know we have a chance.”
Herriott was eighth in 18:41, while Weber took 10th in 18:50.
Glenbrook North coach Bob LeBlanc said the rest of the runners — senior Briana Kaplunov, junior Ellery Marrinan, sophomore Kiera Abramson, sophomore Dana Lee — need to get closer to the top three next week for the Spartans to advance to the state meet for the first time since 2010. Bobart, Weber and Marrinan all were on that team.
“There is work still to do,” LeBlanc said. “We will go easier on them this week. We want them to be fresh for the weekend.”
Any time Emily Leonard can beat one of New Trier’s top-three runners, she’s thrilled.
That’s why the Maine South junior couldn’t stop smiling Saturday at Harms Woods.
Leonard beat both Mimi Smith and Courtney Ackerman to take second place behind champion Jessica Ackerman. Leonard crossed the line in 17:30.20.
“I definitely was happy with my race,” she said. “I went out under control, and I was able to surge past Mimi. I then kept Jessica in my sight.
“New Trier’s top three is so good. To beat any of them is a good day.”
Maine South coach Jeff Downing was pleased with the rest of his runners, too, especially Megan Lemersal. After battling an iron deficiency this season, the senior finished sixth in 18:32 to help the Hawks to second place behind the Trevians.
Junior Mirae Mastrolonardo also turned in a solid showing, coming in seventh in 18:33.
“It was a good team race,” Downing said. “We have a lot o ability, but it’s about keeping everybody as close together as possible. If they run together, they run harder.”
Lace ’em up again
Both Maine East and Niles North got two runners through to the sectionals.
Demons sophomore Leslie Christiansen finished 44th (20:34) and Demons sophomore Jessica Cuevas was 50th (20:52). Vikings senior Jessica Brand qualified after taking 47th (20:40), while Vikings junior Trinette Lopez survived to another week by finishing 49th (20:51).