In the spring, then a sophomore, New Trier’s Ben Crane finished 10th in the two-mile race at the state track and field finals. He was a hundredth of a second from an All-State medal.
Trevians cross-country coach Matt Sloan noticed something change in his trotter.
“He’s been taking fitness and performances to another level,” Sloan said. “It’s been very cool to watch.”
Crane completed his remarkable junior cross-country season with a third-place run in the IHSA state championships, while setting a New Trier junior record with a three-mile time of 14 minutes 20.16 seconds. It is one of the best finishes in New Trier history, including Leland Later’s championship run in 2011 (14:17) and Nicholas Falk’s runnerup run in 2021 (14:14.11).
Crane was less than seven seconds behind state champ Adam Bandukwala (14:13.56), a Hinsdale Central senior who also won the race in 2022; and about two seconds behind runnerup Camyn Viger (14:17.93), a Plainfield South senior.
Crane’s All-State result is the cherry on top of an extraordinary 2023 campaign that included conference, regional and sectional championships, and two other race championships (Hinsdale Red Devil Invitational, Peoria Invitational).
Led by Crane’s finish, New Trier placed seventh as a team, the program’s second best finish since 2013. The Trevians placed fourth in 2022.
The Trevians also took finishes from senior Atticus Miller (59th), junior Walter Garrett (87th) and sophomore Jordan Kreiner (112th) and junior Joey Papanicholas (148th). Felix Hekster, a senior and one of New Trier’s top runners all season, was injured during the race but completed his final high school race.
“Finishing seventh is a nice accomplishment,” Sloan said. “We had big goals going into the season. … It demonstrates just how hard the guys work and their pursuit of excellence.”
Downers Grove North won the team title, tallying 79 points, safely ahead of runnerup Plainfield North (125) and third-place finisher Plainfield South (134).
Highland Park wrapped up its special season with a 10th-place team finish, led by senior Nate Wehner, who placed 24th with a time of (14:43.46). Junior Brian Hatoum placed 69th, Barak Goldstein 95th, Dylan Dominguez (102nd) and Robert Oboza 140th.
Down in Class 1A, two North Shore Country Day runners — seniors Owen Keyt and Aramis Thai-Garcia — wrapped their high school careers by finishing in the top half of the field. Keyt placed 91st and Thai-Garcia 121st.
The Raiders duo also made program history. It was the first time NSCD had a runner in the state finals since 2016, and the first time ever the program had two NSCD boys runners qualify for the state race.
Junior Josie Cahill finished 56th to lead the New Trier girls unit, while senior Hannah Falk placed 64th. Junior Sadie Abbott (161st) and freshman Kayla Ritchie (168th) rounded out the scoring for the Trevians.
Loyola Academy junior Jane Lynch placed 29th and her teammate Katie Mueller was 129th.
Junior Scout Storms, of Barrington, won the race in 16:38.46, while York won the team title, followed by Downers Grove North and Barrington.