Cross Country: Bartlett duo claims Elgin Classic titles
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media August 28, 2012 8:24PM
Bartlett's Connor Rachford races during the City of Elgin cross country meet at Lords Park in Elgin on Tuesday. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 30, 2012 6:22AM
Bartlett seniors Nicole Watkins and Connor Rachford executed their well-conceived strategies to varying degrees Tuesday, but both wound up at the finish line at Elgin’s Lords Park ahead of everyone else.
Watkins won the girls Elgin City Classic cross country meet in 18 minutes, 38.2 seconds and Rachford the boys race in 16:08 for a 3-mile course, while St. Charles North’s boys and girls each won the team titles.
“My game plan was to surge in the back half mile,” Watkins said.
However, she kicked in with 800 meters left by mistake.
“I saw the red flag and kicked too early,” she said. “I was running scared the entire time.”
Watkins, who called former Bartlett great Alyssa Schneider a running “idol” her first two years of school, finished 12.3 seconds ahead of St. Charles North’s Ashley England, but the Stars then took the next five spots to win the eight-team meet easily with 20 points over surprising Streamwood (54) and Bartlett (81).
Kaylee Wessel placed third for North, which has five of its top seven back from a team that placed 17th in state.
“We’re a very competitive team, always trying to outdo the other person and push each other,” England said. “Our top 13 runners are really close together in time.”
Rachford planned to take over the boys race later than he did — he actually set the pace very early.
“My strategy was to see how the others ran the first mile, play with them the second mile and the third mile see how much guts they had and take it all out,” he said.
Glenbard North’s Tyler Dixon finished second to Rachford and St. Charles North’s Spencer Gray third (16:17.4).
Rachford ran at the front with teammates Dan Cotton (fifth, 16:20) and Anthony Peters (12th, 16:42.8) until after the midpoint. They helped the Hawks to second (72) behind North (44).
“Our top three are going to be strong this year and we have a strong 4-5 coming, so we should have a good year to look forward to,” Rachford said.
Joining North’s Gray in the top 10 were Nick Borger (sixth, 16:22) and Nathan Klair (eighth, 16:26). The three are the Stars’ only returning runners from a team that placed ninth at state last year.
“We’re planning on keeping a tight first four pack as much as we can,” Gray said.