Boys Cross Country places second against Warren and Mundelein

The boys cross country team came in second on Sept. 14 at Adler Park in Libertyville, against Mundelein High School and Warren Township High School.

In cross country, the lowest score wins. Warren beat the Wildcats 27-30. However, Libertyville beat Mundelein by a score of 15-50. The top seven runners on the team were Jack Hamilton in second, Dylan McCarty in third, Andrew Brooks (a Drops of Ink member) in fourth, Evan Dallas in 10th, Michael Chudy in 11th, James O’Keeffe in 12th and Ali Faiz in 13th.

Even though the team lost to Warren, most of the team members were proud to have achieved some of their goals. Fastest on the team, senior Jack Hamilton, said that he had reached one of his goals during the meet.  

Timewise, I wanted to run, I’d say about 16 or 15 [minutes], around that. Place was to be one of the top three. That I did in the middle,” said Hamilton after being the second runner to cross the finish line amongst all runners from the three schools. 

The times posted by the runners during this meet seemed to be a little different than what the team had anticipated. Freshman James O’Keeffe described how it was slower than usual. 

“I feel accomplished overall as a team. But personally, I know I could have done better, but there’s always the next race to work on. My goal was to beat 18 [minutes], but I did get 18:20. You’re never always going to get your goal straight away. So I think that’s fine,” said O’Keeffe.

The team’s head coach, Stuart Mendelsohn, described how despite the loss against Warren, he is very proud of the team’s effort, especially after undergoing some downturns throughout the season. 

“Today, there were some good things that I saw. Knowing that the way Warren came out to strategize the race, I expected a little more out of some, but we have some really young guys that really pushed it. Some guys that came off an injury that really pushed it. I think it’s hard when you lose to a rival like Warren, especially with how well we did last year. So I’m proud of the team.  Don’t get me wrong about that. It’s always when you’re hoping for a good victory, and you came up short today, so that’s the disappointing part. They all ran great,” said Mendelsohn.

This was the second meet of the season that the team has competed against different schools at Adler Park, which is known for being a tougher course than most others in the area. Hamilton describes it as “challenging and fun.”

“I think it’s one of the hardest courses in the state. There’s been coaches that come here from all over the state and they’ll say it’s one of the hardest courses … I know kids like to run fast, but one of our advantages is that we want to be here all the time so we can use it to our advantage,” Mendelsohn stated.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the team is once again competing like they did pre-pandemic, after racing significantly differently last season.

“I hope that the athletes that know what they went through last year can appreciate the sense of return. And that’s all I hope for. It’s definitely nice. Going back to how we used to do things for cross country last year, I wouldn’t call it a race. The first runner would start 15 seconds. Then the next runner. Yes, some runners could catch someone else. But the idea was that no one would catch each other. So they really weren’t racing. They were just running on the course,” said Mendelsohn.

Although being off to an unusual start, the team is very optimistic about their goals for this season.

“An overall goal for this season would definitely be to get to state,” said O’Keeffe. 

The team’s next meet will be an invitational at Adler Park, which is on Saturday, Sept. 18, with Barrington, Chicago (Jones), Chicago (Taft), Elgin, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lake Forest Academy, Maine West, New Trier, Niles North, St. Viator. and Westlake Christian Academy.