Belvidere XC races at NIC-10 conference and advances to sectionals during pandemic

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Journie Manzella, Staff Writer

After qualifying for sectionals at the regionals race, the girls team ran at the sectionals meet in Lake Villa on Oct. 31. They came in 13th place, earning a team score of 389 points.
Nina Fiore, led the Belvidere girls taking 36th place with a time of 19:45. Fiore was followed by Journie Manzella with a time of 21:42.
Brynn Kirkland and Ella Scimeca ran together and finished within seconds of each other. Elly Heimer finished with a time of 23:58 to finish off her senior year cross season.
After the race, Ella Scimeca said, “I feel all the girls did really well. It was a strong finish to our season.”
Junior Jazmine Manzella said, “Im very proud of all the girls because even though there were some rough moments due to corona in our season everyone still did amazing and ran their best.”
The boys and girls varsity cross country teams competed at the NIC-10 Conference meet on Saturday, October 17. The meet was held at Belvidere High school on a cold windy day. Belvidere North won the meet for the boys team with a total score of 49. As for the girls, Hononegah won with a score of 33 points. Overall the girls took 6th place and the boys took 9th. The Belvidere girls ended with a team total of 139 points and the boys team ended with 241 points.
The Belvidere girls team was led by Freshman Nina Fiore, who placed 5 with a lifetime PR of 19:28. Following Fiore, Brynn Kirkland and Ella Scimeca took 29th, and 33rd place. The two ran strong throughout the race. They were followed by seniors Elly Heimer and Journie Manzella, junior Desiray Beaudet, and sophomore Ericka Flores.
Freshman Nina Fiore, who ran her first conference race in high school said, “It’s great to be a leader as a freshman. That’s really cool to me that people actually look up to me even though they are higher classmen.” Because Fiore humbly leads her team meet after meet, many of her teammates call her “Number One.” She continued to say, “The meet was great! Everyone did super good, and I’m so proud of how the season turned out. The circumstances weren’t great this year due to COVID-19, but I think we made the best of it.”
Senior Elly Heimer, who took 35th, said, “I think everyone did good JV and Varsity, even with the less than ideal weather.” It was just a mere 49 degrees, overcast with 17 mph winds during the girls race.
Adding on about the weather, Junior Ella Scimeca said, “The weather was super cold and windy, but the team pulled through and did really well.”
To sum up the girl’s race, Coach Deery said, “For the last two years, girls XC has been getting better and better in a quiet unnoticed way. This year, we were competing with Harlem and closer to schools we’ve not competed with in years. What’s even more impressive is that we had multiple season-best times, and were able to compete at such a high level without one of our key varsity runners.”
During the boys race, the temperature warmed up slightly to 51 degrees with 21 mph winds. The boys team was led by Owin Hunter and Sebastian Zuniga who have both been working hard all season. Hunter took 40th place with a time of 18:23. Zuniga followed closely behind and placed 43rd with a time of 18:30. Following the two came Jake Koziol, Caden Streff, Xander Albano, Octavio Lares, and Davian Isalas.
Team captain, Owin Hunter said, “It was a tough race fighting the cold and the strong wind. However our team pushed through and got multiple season records. We may not have placed where we wanted to in conference but this is a good building block for next year.”
This season of cross country has been different because of the COVID-19 Virus and it is one of the few sports that has been able to continue their season during the pandemic. Spectators are not allowed on the field and runners must put on their masks directly after racing. The conference meet was broken up in two days, one day for JV runners and the second for varsity. Runners are encouraged to stay at their tent before and after racing in order to limit exposure.
In regards to racing during the pandemic, boys’ varsity runner, Xander Albano said, “Racing during rona wasn’t great but at least we had a season while other sports didn’t”