Cross country: St. Viator pleased to have a second chance at state meet
St. Viator's Patric Natindim is going to have company at the Class 2A state boys cross country meet.
Natindim finished seventh as an individual at the Fenton sectional Saturday in Bensenville. Natindim figured he would be the lone Viator runner at the state meet when his team was sixth and missed qualifying by finishing in the top five of the 23 teams at the sectional.
However, that changed Sunday night when the Illinois High School Association announced that St. Viator would be added to the state meet. That was the IHSA's response to Cook County Judge Neil H. Cohen's ruling last Friday to allow Chicago Public League cross country runners to compete in Saturday's sectional meet.
Originally, the CPS schools were not allowed to participate in sectionals because the CPS strike was still in effect when the regional races were run on October 26. None of the striking CPS schools competed on that day and since they did not compete and qualify, the IHSA ruled them out of the sectional meets.
With Cohen's ruling, Mather, from the City's Northwest side, along with seven other CPS schools, competed on Saturday at the Fenton sectional. Mather finished fourth as a team and was able to qualify for state.
On Monday, the IHSA appealed the judge's ruling. No court date has been set for the IHSA appeal.
No matter which way the appeal will fall, St. Viator is headed to the state meet for the sixth consecutive year and seventh time in the last eight years. Viator finished sixth in the state last year.
In a statement, St. Viator athletic director Jason Kuffel said: "We are proud of each and every one of our student athletes and the way they have challenged each other to improve throughout the season. We cherish the opportunity in the coming week to practice four more times together and compete one last time as a team and family."
That family includes Mickey Schumacher, Daniel Bottcher, Matt Goss, Conor Flynn, Nathan Kochera, Ryan Politzki and Natindim, who will now have an opportunity to race as a team Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
"I thought we were done because we ran poorly," Viator coach Wayne Edleman said. "There is nothing wrong with second chances. Hopefully we can take advantage of it."
Natindim said he and his teammates are grateful for a chance to run in the state meet.
"I am very excited," Natindim said. "It is one more race to run with my teammates. It is going to be lots of fun and we aren't going to waste the second chance we got."
Several individuals were also added to the state meet by the IHSA. They include: Carmel Catholic's Abigail Kuderna, Isabel Ashley and Alexander Speer, Jimmy Palumbo from Fenton, Alex Utsis of Vernon Hills, Ray Ure of Maine West and Dylan Moran of Addison Trail, among others.