CRYSTAL LAKE – After a few minutes into the boys varsity race at the Crystal Lake South Invitational, the front-runners figured something was amiss.
No one could find Cary-Grove’s Phil Fairleigh, the McHenry County Meet champion Tuesday and a race favorite, among the leaders. Competitors had seen Fairleigh warming up with the Trojans, but he was not in the lead pack.
“Everyone was waiting for Phil [to make a move],” Dundee-Crown sophomore Anthony Manfrin said. “My coach [Tom Smith] told me at the mile mark to just run my own race.”
Fairleigh sat out the race because a cold was hampering his breathing this week.
Manfrin took advantage and led his team to first place with a victory in 16:46, 17 seconds ahead of South’s Josh Uvodich. D-C placed its five scoring runners in the top 19 spots and won the team title with 56 points.
Fremd (89) was in second place in the 21-team meet.
South won the girls team title with 77 points, ahead of Buffalo Grove (95) and Huntley (99). The Gators’ Kristina Aubert won the race in 19:51.8, with Buffalo Grove freshman Olivia Jones (19:59.7) taking second.
D-C’s boys look as good as advertised after a dominant win in Tuesday’s Elgin Invitational and another strong performance Saturday.
“Anthony looked real smooth,” Smith said. “It’s a nice first week. We needed to get out and run and see where we’re at. They’re doing what we like to do, chasing each other and getting that pack.”
Manfrin, who won Elgin Invitational, will see Fairleigh plenty of other times this season.
“Our coach has been telling us we can’t just go out and expect to win, we have to keep proving ourselves, week in and week out,” Manfrin said.
Nathan Prom (10th), Paul Smith (12th), Jon Keable (14th) and Jon Magnant (19th) rounded out D-C’s top five. Without Fairleigh and senior Kai Rikardsen, C-G still managed to take fourth place, led by William Roth’s sixth-place finish.
South’s girls placed their five scoring runners in the top 29. Aubert was joined by four sophomores, Marianne Collard (sixth), Nina Wajrowski (19th), Emily Lenzini (22nd) and Erica Boorom (29th).
Woodstock’s Nikki Greenhill and Elise Beattie took third and fourth and the Blue Streaks took fourth as a team. Freshmen Amy Kahl (seventh) and Sara Scarbro (ninth) led the Red Raiders.
“I didn’t really expect us to win with so many good teams,” Collard said. “It’s so fun to win the meet you’re hosting. It’s great to see how much everybody’s improving.”
Aubert lopped 23 seconds off her winning time from Tuesday’s county meet, which was run in 90-plus degree temperatures.
“Those sophomores are the core of our team,” she said. “When they’re seniors, they’re going to be amazing.”
Gators coach Niki Lydon said her team has benefited from its summer work.
“They’re seeing their extra mileage paying off,” Lydon said. “Everyone increased their mileage, which helped a lot. If they scored the county meet [for teams], we would have been third. So our goal was to get top three here, and we did even better than that.”