Well worth the wait: Emma West leads Auburn girls cross country to Sangamo Conference title; Daniel Giacomini pushes Williamsville boys team to topThe State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill. — Bill Welt The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.
Oct. 17-- Oct. 17--AUBURN -- Auburn High School senior Emma West could hardly bear the wait.
She was not only closing out her final meet of the regular season on the Trojans' home course but also helping her team contend for the Sangamo Conference girls cross country title.
West breezed to first place around the grounds at Michael J. Potts Memorial Field in 19 minutes 27.81 seconds and Auburn clinched the conference championship with the fewest points in the league.
"I was so overwhelmed because I was so scared today and I knew there was going to be more competition," West said. "But we pulled through as a team and I'm really happy about that.
"This whole season has revolved around our conference and this is the strongest our team has ever looked before. Everything came down to this meet and we pulled through."
West sprinted to the finish line with freshmen teammates Rylee Chelbian and Katie Pace in tow. Chelbian solidified second place in 19:33.09 while Pace earned fifth place in 20:18.17, each flopping to the ground in the customary cross country tradition. Pleasant Plains sophomore Megan Derrick took third in 19:41 while Williamsville junior Katherine Walker was fourth in 19:41.23.
Auburn won the girls side with 27 points, followed by Williamsville (45) and Plains (48). The Trojans (16-0) totaled 154 points to end the regular season. Williamsville (184) and Plains (212) secured the next two spots.
"I was really scared that I wasn't going to be able to keep that place," Chelbian said. "I didn't want to let my team down, so I did the best that I could to finish as fast as possible and I was dead. I fell down. I was so tired, but I was so happy that I was able to do that for my team."
West immediately checked on both teammates.
"I try to be a good example for them," West said. "It's definitely a lot but most of the time it's a good feeling. After the race, we're all lying down and trying to catch our breath and all of the emotions come to us. We're so excited to be here running for each other."
Williamsville sophomore Daniel Giacomini also captured first place on the boys side in 16:54.67 and helped the Bullets (16-0) clinch the Sangamo championship with a season-total 160 points.
Riverton (238) and Petersburg PORTA (239) finished second and third in the conference, respectively.
Giacomini said he has improved every meet this season. His personal best is 16:33. That mark was unreachable Saturday due to colder air and a fierce wind.
"He's put in the mileage and he's really come on strong for us," Williamsville coach Tyler Casson said. "He's a really good teammate and he really wants everyone to do well. That's what our team is about. We want everybody to come out and PR and do their best. That's what makes cross country great."
The Bullets won the tri-meet without sophomore Nolan Bates, scoring 19 points. Bates is out for the year with an injury.
Plains freshman Jack Willenborg settled for second in 17:15.70 and the Bullets swept the next five spots: freshman Drew Mirrable (17:24.90), sophomore Avery Glasgow (17:34.87), junior Cody Szafranski (17:53.73) and senior Luke Ball (17:54.63).
Plains (48) and Auburn (72) went second and third, respectively.
"Everyone on my team, they're all great runners," Giacomini said. "I love running with them. They really know how to push me, especially Avery and Nolan. I love my team, they're awesome."
West needed this season perhaps more than anybody, said Auburn coach Jay Weber.
Her times suffered last year due to nagging ailments. That's all in the past now and West, who's personal best is 19:20 and wants to run in college, is finally realizing her full potential going into next weekend's regional meet.
"It was really unfortunate because I could see the training and see what she was capable of," Weber said of last season. "She really needed races to show it off and it's really been amazing for her."
Contact Bill Welt: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter.com/BillWelt
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