Top-end speed, pack mentality paces New Trier's boys sectional victory
New Trier's boys cross country team used pack running this season to rise above its competition.
So it's to the Trevians' credit that under a pandemic-regulated sectional format that negated a team-wide pack, New Trier won its first sectional title since going back-to-back in 2013-14.
"It's pretty cool," said New Trier coach Matt Sloan.
"It's definitely been a strange season, and I was just really proud of the way the guys executed our race plan really, really well. I think, for the most part, we ran our best race at the end of the year, which is all you can really hope for," he said.
New Trier junior Nick Falk placed third overall at the Class 3A Hoffman Estates sectional behind champion Luke Wiley of Warren and runner-up Jacob Myers of Lake Zurich. Falk, with Davidson-bound senior teammate Charlie Siebert finishing fourth, scored 50 points to win the sectional, ahead of Barrington (72) and Lake Zurich (86). There will be no Illinois High School Association championship meets this season.
Loyola, headed by junior Spencer Werner in fifth, placed fifth as a team, and Glenbrook South was 10th. Glenbrook South junior Brian Hiltebrand was the Titans' first finisher at 35th. Glenbrook North senior Nick Ihrke represented the Spartans with a 36th-place finish.
To provide a semblance of distancing on the start line, the No. 1 runners from the sectional's 15 teams, plus the five fastest individuals from schools that didn't qualify teams, went off as a unit. Second and third flights followed suit, then each team's Nos. 4-7 runners started together.
This doesn't benefit a strong pack team such as New Trier.
"I think at regional it kind of threw us off a little bit," Sloan said. "I talked to the team about that -- we're going to learn from that, we're going to do better. And we did."
Sloan really liked Siebert's race, fourth overall out of the second group. In a top-seven comprised of all seniors and juniors, George Cahill, George Esteve and Conor O'Neill finished roughly within 10 seconds of each other between 13th and 19th places.
"This senior class is very successful for us," Sloan said. "But that's because they work hard and they push each other."
Freshman year was very successful for Loyola's Morgan Mackie, who finished second behind Grant's Aly Negovetich in the Hoffman Estates girls' race. Mackie, running her fastest time (17 minutes, 42.96 seconds) of the conference-regional-sectional series, didn't place outside the top five in any of her eight races this season and won the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference meet.
Sophomore Maeve Norman's 10th-place finish helped the Ramblers take second in team standings behind Prospect, 69-99. Loyola will graduate only two seniors from its seven sectional runners.
New Trier, with usual suspects Clare Finnegan and Sam Fellman placing top-28, finished fifth. Molly Durow led Glenbrook South's 11th-place finish, while Glenbrook North's Natalie Sandlow, the Central Suburban League South champion, placed 24th.
At Class 3A Lyons, another freshman, Maine South's Olivia DeLuca, finished 32nd to pace the Hawks' 10th-place girls team finish.
Maine South's boys team finished fourth at Lyons, behind three of the top teams in Class 3A -- St. Charles East, York and the host Lions. Maine South seniors Matt Coyle and Eamon Brady placed eighth and 10th individually, Brady running a season-best time of 15:13.03.