It wasn't a desperate move but it was one that Chicago Public League cross country coaches had to make in assuring their conference meet would get in the books. Why? The Chicago Teachers Union was set to walk the picket line for a strike on Thursday. This would be ahead of the original Saturday, October 19 championship date. This would also be the seventh teacher's strike in the last 40 years. One such strike in 1987 lasted 19 days and greatly effected fall sports. Hopefully, things can get resolved quickly so the athletes and coaches can move on the state regionals.
For the first time in recent history, the races were condensed into four contests with some co-ed because of daylight. Things had to be moved quickly... especially in Horner Park where the park's lights are not kind once things get past twilight status.
Jones College Prep and Lane Tech boys traded blows in the undercard races with JCP winning two of the three contests. However, the main event was the one that everyone had their eyes. The Eagles came in as the #11 team in the 3A polls and perhaps still on a runner's high after finishing second in last week's prestigious Naperville Twilight Invitational. Lane Tech on the otherhand had a big chip on their shoulders, rebuilding their program, emerging from the darkness and fighting for respect.
The opening mile was basically a sea of blue followed by green/gold colors of Jones and Lane. The first mile hit between 5:10-15. Anthony Maida (Sr., Jones) and Jack Burns (Sr., Lane Tech) led a tight group of runners behind them including Ian Bacon (Sr., Jones), Declan Toomey (Jr., Lane Tech), Tommy Donohoe (Sr., Lane Tech)... Aaron Hou (Jr., Jones), Ryan Desantis (Sr., Jones), and Kembre Daniel (Sr., Lincoln Park) were there too.
Things had spread out by the second mile on the basic and rugged one-mile looped course. Maida and Burns would open up a gap over the field. Let the slugfest between Jones and Lane begin. These two schools would take turns populating the finish line. Maida was the first one across in 15:23 for the individual title. Burns would be next in 15:40. Jones then took the next three spots ahead of Lane. Lane countered with five scorers in the top 10 to make the final tally a waiting game. The Eagles would eventually defend their title with 26 points. Lane got their first plaque since scoring a second place in 2014.
|1||Jones College Prep||26||1+3+4+5+13 (15)||1:02 1-5 Split | 15:52 Avg|
|2||Lane Tech High School||33||2+6+7+8+10 (18+20)||0:37 1-5 Split | 16:01 Avg|
|3||Taft High School||104||9+19+21+22+33 (41+72)||0:59 1-5 Split | 16:46 Avg|
|4||Whitney Young High School||126||14+25+26+30+31 (37+75)||0:43 1-5 Split | 16:59 Avg|
|5||Payton High School||153||11+16+35+45+46 (50+54)||1:24 1-5 Split | 17:10 Avg|
The girls story was much different than the boys. Lane Tech swept the undercards with complete blowouts. The varsity race was supposed to be more competitive with defending champion Whitney Young lurking in the picture. Taft, Northside Prep, and Payton had plans to snag the first place trophy.
Sydney Partyka (Sr., Taft) had been the top runner in the conference all season and she waited patiently for several seasons to be in position for her first varsity title. Partyka faced minimal resistance during the opening mile as she trucked passed in 5:43. It was all a solo gig for Partyka who continued to open a gap on the field. The final outcome was a winning effort in 18:02.
Lane Tech would ease past defending champ Whitney Young 59-69.