Photo Credit: Mike Kepner - MileSplit
By Mark Dwyer - MileSplit
Top team and individual entries from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio took over the LaVern Gibson 5-kilometer course in the featured contests of the 2-day event.
Admittance to NXN on Sunday, December 2nd at the Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon, is ensured for the auto-qualifying top two teams, per gender, and the top five finishing individuals (who are not a part of a top two team), per gender.
Additionally, four at-large team berths and five at-large individual berths will be determined by the series' committee following the conclusion of all regional meets, nation-wide, plus the California State Championships (CIF).
A carbon copy of the finishing order last week at IHSA, Illinois-based squads Downers North, PNXC and Cougar Running Club swept the top thee with Downers North and PNXC positioning themselves to extend their seasons at Nationals.
A 21-second spread for Downers North's scoring unit saw Ryan Eddington lead the way in 15:22, followed by Philip Cupial (15:28), Zachary Bender (15:42), Grant Schroder (15:42) and Caden Weber (15:43).
Downers North was fresh off an Illinois state title winning effort, where they captured Class 3A honors.
Similar to the 1-2 finish at Class 3A, it was PNXC (Plainfield North) occupying the runner-up spot.
Thomas Czerwinski, the 5th place finisher at state, scored in position No. 16 at NXR with his 15:25 clocking. Owen Stahl, Quinn Davis, Aidan Connors and James Maso supported the scoring with marks of 15:34, 15:36, 15:56 and 16 flat, respectively.
Downers North's final tally was 115-points, PNXC posted 166-points and just 1-point behind at 167, Cougar Running Club (Plainfield South) will eagerly await the committee's decision on at-large invites.
They went 1-2 at the Indiana State Championships and replicating that effort at NXR were Cameron Todd and Will Conway.
Showing they're the class of the region, Todd, Brebeuf Jesuit, clocked 14:43.8 to secure his seventh victory of the season. With a wealth of big meet experience to draw upon, he was the 6th place finisher at last year's Champs (now Foot Locker) National Championships. That championship mettle paid dividends for Todd on Sunday in Terre Haute.
Conway, Floyd Central, was just 3-seconds behind at 14:46.8 to lock-in his NXN berth. The Tennessee Volunteers recruit has been either 1st or 2nd in all 10 of his race starts this fall (including seven wins).
Nalley, the Illinois Class 2A champion, recorded a 14:47.0 finishing time while Michigan native Hansen and Illinois' Bandukwala posted 14:50.9 and 14:52.8 marks.
Photo Credit: Mike Kepner - MileSplit
Similar to the men's contest, in the ladies race it was an Illinois strangle-hold for the top three spots with Prospect (Mt. Prospect), Downers North XC Club (Downers Grove) and Kroy (Elmhurst, York) going 1-2-3 with 125, 138 and 148 point outings.
Illinois' incredible depth was on full display as this trio of teams met last week at IHSA Class 3A with Kroy winning, Downers North in second and the now regional champion Prospect in fourth.
Leading by 10-seconds after 1km, 20-seconds after 2km and 29-seconds after 3km, Forsyth had built an insurmountable lead by the race's final stages as she won by a remarkable 47-second margin.
The LP Division 1 champion has run the table to this point in 2023, tallying 11 victories in as many starts.
Familiar competition to Forsyth was state runner-up and now NXR runner-up, as well, with Selma Anderson second through the line in 17:18.0.
Top ranked in Illinois over the 3-mile distance, Keller was 3rd in 17:18.6 while the Indiana duo of Dowty and Knoblauch trailed closely behind in 4th and 5th with marks of 17:19.2 and 17:19.8.