LANSING | The jump to Class 2A this season was supposed to hurt Illiana Christian in postseason competition.
Apparently, the Vikings didn't get the memo.
Illiana's boys and girls squads dominated their own Class 2A Regional Saturday at North Creek Meadow, as each team earned a first-place finish.
Both teams advance to next Saturday's Class 2A Wheaton Academy Sectional.
"I'm extremely happy with the way we performed today," said Illiana Christian boys coach Jim Piaskowy. "When your kids run the way they did today, with the grouping they demonstrated, you really feel good about your team moving forward."
The Illiana boys finished first through seventh in the 3-mile race, and were never really challenged.
Junior Tony Wondaal grabbed the top spot in 16 minutes, 6.27 seconds. Wondaal's teammates Kevin Vroegh and Nick Fiene finished second and third, respectively, but trailed Wondaal by less than a second.
"That's what we push for," Wondaal said. "We don't really care who finishes where as long as we're all together and all running the way we know we can.
"It's about the success of the team."
Illiana's girls team used the same mentality.
Junior Alexa Beezhold claimed the victory in 19:04, and twin sisters Kristen and Lauren Brink finished in second and third, respectively, behind her.
Kristen Brink (19:15) and Lauren Brink (19:34) performed admirably considering the circumstances.
The seniors returned to Lansing just two hours before the start of the regional race after enduring an 11-hour car ride from a class trip in Washington D.C.
"No sleep, tired and a little groggy, but I felt we held our own," Kristen Brink said of their performances. "I'm really impressed with the way we competed today."
Lauren Brink was just happy to finish.
"I was exhausted, and it really hit me near the end of the run," she said. "I'm happy that I was still able to give my all for the team."
Junior Alex Clausing finished fifth for the Vikings.
T.F. North’s Chris Szablewski also qualified for the sectional meet with a 17:53 finish. Szablewski’s time was the best in the field of individual qualifiers, and granted the senior his fourth appearance in sectional competition.
“I’m happy with how I ran today, but that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied,” Szablewski said. “I need to work on my endurance over the next week, because by the end of the second mile, I was almost gassed.
“That’s going to have to change if I hope to make it out of sectionals.”
Marian Catholic also qualified with a fourth-place finish, and Camren Howard was seventh individually in 16:40.