Nick Falk wanted to win but setting a personal-best time, claiming the school record and guiding his team to its best finish in 59 years will have to do.
Falk and the New Trier cross-country team had an eventful season finale at the IHSA championships Saturday, Nov. 6, at Detweiler Park in Peoria.
Falk ran the three-mile race in 14 minutes, 14.11 seconds, the top mark in New Trier cross-country history, finishing second to state champ Micah Wilson, of St. Charles East (14:11.18). Behind Falk’s record-setting effort, the Trevians finished fourth in the team scoring, their best result since a third-place trophy in 1962.
“I definitely wanted to win. That was the goal all year, but I’m not disappointed with second place at all,” Falk said. “The person who won is a great runner, great person. (I just made) one mistake in the back loop.”
Falk said during that part of the course Wilson jetted ahead of the pack while Falk chose to hang back and wait it out. He said that cost him during the home stretch.
But Falk was not regretful but grateful, especially after a health hurdle that began during the spring track season.
A respiratory condition affected the distance runner’s performance and lingered throughout the summer. But the breathing issues cleared up in time for his senior cross-country season, and Falk made the most of it.
“It’s astonishing his competitive nature and what he is able to do,” Trevians coach Matt Sloan said. “When he competes, it’s just fun to watch. To run 14:14 is just a really impressive accomplishment.”
New Trier’s historic finish came in Sloan’s first state finals since he took over in 2020 for longtime coach Dave Wisner.
The Trevs totaled 196 points to land behind state champion Sandburg (130), Hinsdale Central (175) and Downers Grove North (179). The point total comprises the finishes of Falk (2), George Cahill (47th, 15:10.54), Oscar Dueno-Alda (54th, 15:14.22) and Patrick Jamieson (64th, 15:17.56). Seniors Blake Deger (65th, 15:17.94) and Jack Moran (113th, 15:37.82) weren’t far behind.
“That’s quite an accomplishment,” Sloan said of the fourth-place finish. “The teams in front of us all won state championships (in the past decade). The state of Illinois is a very, very good running state. To be up there with the best is pretty cool.
Sloan added that all five of his seniors who competed clocked personal-best times.
“To do that on the biggest stage, when most of them have never been at the meet, you can’t really hope for anything more,” he said.
New Trier’s Falk is headed to Duke University next school year and will carry with him the imprint of the Trevians program.
““Cross county has been by far the most amazing experience I’ve had in my life,” he said. “ … It was super fun to be there every single day. It’s such a dedicated group. It was just awesome. I’m very happy it happened.”
Loyola Academy’s Aidan Simon placed 139th, while teammate Casey Gibbons was 153rd. The Ramblers top runner Spencer Werner, the Chicago Catholic League’s individual champion, did not score in the race.
On the girls side, the Ramblers placed 10th behind junior Ellie Grammas (59th, 17:53.91), sophomore Morgan Mackie (80th) and freshman Jane Lynch (89th).
New Trier finished 12th as a team, thanks to a 38th-place finish by junior Beatrix Gilson (17:37.55). Junior Clare Finnigan took 78th, senior Samantha Fellman 88th and junior Katherine Forbes 128th.