Entire girls team, three boys advance to cross country sectionals


Alex Burstein

Lane’s Hunter Whitney near mile three in the IHSA 3A Lyons Regional 5k race.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

While the state playoffs always provide a new level of competition, the varsity Boys and Girls Cross Country team members had to face and beat — exceedingly competitive teams this year to keep their season alive.

When Boys and Girls Cross Country Head Coach Kristopher Roof saw this year’s regional and sectional assignments, he knew they were going to be tougher than usual.

“Our regional and our sectional, the next, next week and the next weekend, they’re the top competition in the state,” Roof said on Oct. 19.

This was put on full display Saturday, Oct. 23, as the boys and girls cross country teams kicked off state playoffs in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) 3A Regional hosted by Lyons Township.

In a meet decided by seconds, the girls got sixth place overall, clinching the final spot in sectional, while the Lane boys just missed the cut-off to advance as a team in seventh place.

The top five runners who don’t qualify for sectionals as a team in the boys and girls races get to advance as individuals. At the individual level, the boys found success, with junior Hunter Whitney, sophomore Will Kozlowski, and senior Jack Klein all earning individual bids to the sectionals. 

The girls had a chilly 9 a.m. start, as they got the first race of the day on the 5,000 meter course, featuring three loops throughout the Lyons Township High School fields. 

The first mile came out to a blistering pace, with the leaders clocking in around 5:30 minutes. Lane’s top runner, junior Olivia Ide, was not far behind from the front.

She would stay around the top 15 mark for the rest of the race, a packed section with multiple runners shifting for position, leading her speed to be dictated by the runners around her.

“[Running with the pack] helps me pace really well and I knew when I needed to pass them to be in a better position to finish better,” Ide said.

Ide remained about 30 seconds ahead of her closest Lane teammate, sophomore Sophie Mullins, for the bulk of the race. By the halfway point, the team had already separated, with no pack of Lane runners containing more than two or three girls.

For a team that has finished close together in many meets this year, their spread out groups were a change.

It was a lot more competitive today, racing against more private schools and schools that are not located in such a city setting,” Ide said.

As Ide crossed the finish line, the clock showed a 20-second personal record for her, coming in at 19:19.2 and 15th place. Mullins, sophomore Charlotte Muller, and junior Kate Roarty would finish in 23rd, 32nd, and 35th place, respectively. Senior Kylie Shraiberg, sophomore Madeline Majewski, and sophomore Sydney Coomer wrapped up the field for Lane with 36th, 40th, and 45th place performances.

Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest (OPRF) put on a dominating performance in the rest of the girls race, finishing over 20 seconds ahead of the second place finisher with a 17:34. Catie McCabe of Hinsdale Central, Catherine Sommer Field of Lyons, Claire Pyne of Downers Grove North, and Erin Milligan of Hinsdale Central rounded out the top five.

Hinsdale Central (43 points) took the overall team title, while Downers Grove North (60), OPRF (81), Lyons (82), Whitney Young (137), and Lane (141) took the rest of the qualifying spots. 

Isabela Garcia (24th place) of Morton, Hastings BaCote (25th), Lena Almer (30th), Selma Taylor (34th) of Jones and Lillianna Konrad (38th) of Lincoln Park advanced as individuals. 

The attention quickly shifted to the boys race that started at 10 a.m.

In his first race being crowned city champion, Lane’s Hunter Whitney showed a skillful performance, running to a fifth place finish in a competitive field with a time of 15:39.7.

Whitney was in the top ten at the very start, before advancing to the fifth spot, where he’d stay for most of the race.

I’m pretty happy,” Whitney said. “There’s some guys I wish I would have beat — I know I could have that I didn’t — but I made it through to sectionals so that’s all that matters.”

While Whitney stayed in fifth for almost the whole time, after being close for the first two miles, the front group slowly started to break up near the end, putting Whitney out of reach for a better spot.

“Last half mile really, Hinsdale Central’s top runner made a really big surge and sped up the pace heavy, and that’s where it kind of spreads out cause he breaks everyone else,” Whitney said. “And so just kind of go with those guys and surge with them, you got to be able to know you can do it and just kind of commit.”

There was nearly a minute between Whitney and the next Lane runner, Kozlowski (29th place – 16:31.1), who jumped to the number two spot on Lane’s team in this race. Klein (35th – 16:38.9), would finish close.

The rest of Lane’s team would finish close behind in junior Tommy Stecz (40th), senior Tommy Hunt (44th), senior Rory Quinn (45th) and junior Ian Yeagle (50th). 

Despite placing the entire team in the top 50, Lane (153 points) would fall eight points short of a sectional team berth. Downers Grove North (55 points) would win the team title, with Hinsdale Central (61), Lyons (75), OPRF (112), Jones (128) and St. Ignatius (145) all advancing. 

In the individual title race, Daniel Watcke of Hinsdale Central took the title in 15:21.4. Roy Llwellyn of Downers Grove North, Charlie McLawhorn of Lyons, Colby Revord of Hinsdale Central and Whitney came in second to fifth place, respectively. Whitney, Alex Bacci (7th place) and Samuel Berlinghof (9th) of Morton and Kozlowski and Klein all advanced as individuals.

Now, Whitney will turn his attention to the even harder competition he’ll face in the next round of state: sectionals. 

“In that last mile when they make [a] surge, [I want to] just kind of go with them a little more because I know I have the training to be able to keep up with that so I’ve just got to commit mentally,” Whitney said.

Lane’s sectional will be hosted by Hinsdale Central on Saturday. The entire girls varsity team will compete at 11 a.m., while Whitney, Kozlowski and Klein will suit up for the boys race starting at 12 p.m.