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Huntley’s Cross Country seniors end career on high note

The boys and girls cross country teams pose with their regional championship plaques.

The boys and girls cross country teams pose with their regional championship plaques.

Tyler Watkins

The season came to an end Saturday for Huntley’s boys and girls cross-country teams. The boys team was able to send three senior runners-Keagan Smith, Seth Conroy, and Mike Grocholski- to represent the Red Raiders at the IHSA Boys 3A State Championship. The girls team was eliminated at the sectional meet the previous weekend.

The postseason started off with a bang for both the boys and the girls, each winning the Hononegah Regional. The boys team their first regional title in dominant fashion, defeating Hononegah 22-66. Smith, Conroy, and Grocholski swept the first three spots in the race, and were joined on the All-Regional team by freshman Jadon Conroy, who finished in 6th, and sophomore Joey Ozzauto, who finished in 10th.

The girls team was nearly as dominant as the boys, winning their second consecutive regional title 27-48 over Hononegah. Freshman Mary Raclawski led the way with a first place time of 18:46. She was joined in the top 10 by senior Kate Mitchell and sophomores Chloe Smith and Lindsey Ferguson. Mitchell, Smith, and Ferguson finished 3rd, 4th, and 7th respectively.

Heading into the West Aurora Sectional, both teams believed they had a shot at qualifying for state as a team. The boys were seeking their second consecutive state berth after edging Marmion Academy by a single point last year to make it to state for the first time as a team in school history.

However, fate did not smile on either team. Pouring rain and gusting wind made the course a miserable place to run, and their toll was reflected by the runners. The girls team finished in 12th place with a score of 326. They were led by Ferguson, who finished 53rd. They were unable to send a team or individual to state, ending their season.

In the boys race, Smith won his second straight sectional title with a time of 15:29. Conroy finished 5th and Grocholski finished 16th to provide a very strong first three. However, the gap between Grocholski and the rest of Huntley’s runners was large, putting their chances at state in jeopardy. Heartbreakingly, the boys team missed qualifying for state as a team by a single point, finishing 6th behind Naperville Central, 170-169. Smith, Conroy, and Grocholski qualified as individuals.

Huntley’s dynamic trio of seniors made the trip down to Peoria to compete at the state meet. All three were experienced; Smith was running at his fourth state meet, while Conroy and Grocholski had both qualified the previous year.

“It’s obviously an honor. Coming here, we only had one other guy qualify ever, so it’s pretty cool achieving so much and kind of building a legacy and letting people know who Huntley is,” said Smith.

At state, all three ran exceptionally. Smith finished 20th, his third straight All-State honor, with a time of 14:44. Conroy placed 30th with a time of 14:54 and Grocholski was 51st with a time of 15:07.  This was an improvement for Conroy, who was 68th last year, and Grocholski, who was 69th. Smith, who finished 9th last year and was eyeing a potential state title, was a bit disappointed with the race.

“It was unfortunate that I didn’t finish quite like I had hoped, but I’m far from being disappointed with being All-State for the third time,” said Smith.

Overall, the season was extremely successful for both the boys and the girls. The girls team will have a solid foundation to build on as they return all but one of their varsity runners. For the boys, next year will be a bit more of a rebuilding year, as they lose their top 3 varsity runners. However, they will return plenty of talent as 4 of their 7 varsity runners will be returning next year.

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