Prospect High School has been a thorn in Loyola Academy’s side all season long.
The teams’ third meeting at the IHSA Hoffman Estates Sectional on Saturday, Oct. 31, ended in similar fashion as the Knights edged the Ramblers and claimed the sectional title.
As the wind grew stronger throughout the morning, the races grew more intense, and Prospect’s depth became too much for the Ramblers.
“We told the girls that we were going to go for it and if we finished second or third, we would be really happy,” Loyola coach ChrisJon Simon said. “Our girls really went after Prospect. We put it out there today.”
The Knights finished first with 69 points while Loyola finished second with 99. Barrington finished third with 101, while Lake Zurich and New Trier finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Loyola freshman Morgan Mackie led the way for the Ramblers with a strong finish in the first flight.
She battled Grant’s Aby Negoveitch on the final lap of the race, finishing just behind her in the end.
Mackie’s time of 17 minutes, 42.96 seconds placed her second overall, just behind Negoveitch’s 17:35.06.
While this was her first sectional, Mackie felt prepared for the moment. She thought Loyola’s hilly Munz Campus course prepared her well for the flat course at Hoffman Estates.
“My legs felt good heading into that race,” Mackie said. “I was a little nervous.”
Sophomore Maeve Norman competed in the third heat but finished as the second-fastest Rambler. She won her flight at 18:31.32, good enough for 10th overall.
Sophomore Ellie Grammas battled it out in the second flight for the Ramblers, finishing with a time of 18:42.62.
Sarah Jay finished 44th overall (19:33.96) while Erin McCarthy rounded things out for the Ramblers right behind Jay in 45th (19:36.47).
The times continued to grow as the races went on, which was a tough challenge with each new flight. But Simon was impressed by the way his top girls competed and gave it all they had.
“Ellie went after it, which we asked her to do,” Simon said. “Maeve won her flight, which was great.”
New Trier had to make some adjustments with the multiple races. Because there were different flights, the Trevian runners had to be separated, which coach John Burnside said was an adjustment for a team that usually runs as a pack.
Sophomore Clare Finnigan led the way for New Trier, finishing 25th overall at 18:58.62. Junior Samantha Fellman wasn’t too far behind, finishing 28th overall at 19:04.94.
Senior Olivia Bhote (19:11.27, 31st), sophomore Hannah Caudill (19:37.22, 46th) and sophomore Jennifer Wiitala (19:47.16,56th) rounded things out for New Trier in a meet where Burnside was pleased with how hard his runners battled.
“We were just so happy to see the kids running and competing and being successful,” Burnside said. “They competed hard. It was great.”
The sectional marked the end of the cross-country seasno. There will be no official state meet because of COVID-19 concerns.
Simon mentioned that he hopes his team is invited to an unofficial state meet next weekend in Peoria, but he’s proud of the way his team battled in a season he knows not many will forget.
“It was stressful but we were lucky because this group of varsity athletes was fun to coach every day,” Simon said. “They followed every rule and instruction. That made it easy.”
Michal is an award-winning sports journalist based in Chicago. He most recently served as the sports editor of The Glenview Lantern and Northbrook Tower and is a graduate of the College of Media at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He also contributes to The Varsity podcast.