For the latest NSW Vintage Moment we travel back to the fall of 2015. It was season 9 Naperville Sports Weekly and Naperville North girls cross country was well established as a powerhouse program in the state.
The Huskies won the 3A state championship in 2014 in this Vintage Moment and had high hopes once again the following year. Judy Pendergast had finished in 7th place at the 2014 race, but nobody could predict the leap she would make during her senior season.
It was clear early on that fall that Pendergast would be a favorite to win state, especially after she set the course record at the Naperville North Twilight Invitational, and cruised to first place victories in the DVC, regional and sectional meets.
November 7th, 2015 was a crisp, cool fall day at Detweiler Park in Peoria. Perfect conditions for a historic performance. And the Huskie standout certainly delivered. Jumping out to an early lead, Pendergast pushed herself to an incredible pace and an insurmountable lead. It was clear midway through the race that a first place finish was well in hand, the only question remained was if she could maintain her record breaking pace.
The IHSA girls state record was 16:02 at the time, set by Madeline Perez from Glenbard West in 2012. Pendergast never broke stride and crossed the finish line at an incredible 15:54, the first to ever break the 16 minute mark.
Judy Pendergast became the second Naperville native to win the girls cross country championship after Amanda Fox from Naperville Central in 2011. Pendergast still holds the state record and to date only one other runner has broken the 16 minute mark when Katelyn Hart from Glenbard West ran a time of 15:59 in 2018.
Naperville North took home the second place team trophy at state behind Minoooka that afternoon, but it was the awe inspiring performance of the fiery haired Huskie that will never be forgotten.
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