The Chicago City State Meet Puts On An Extraordinary Show

Ian Bacon wins the passion-filled Chicago City State Meet in a personal best effort


Chicago, IL-

The last time the city of Chicago hosted a cross country meet in November near the lakefront it was a disaster. In that year of 1993, kids, coaches, and parents alike struggled to find out where a place "Cricket Hill" was. Lane Tech and Farragut were the two best programs in the Chicago Public League and it's safe to say both schools did not fair very well the next weekend at state... the disorganization and lack of caring for the student-athletes was a primary reason.

Fast forward to 2019, where many of the CPL kids trained tirelessly throughout the summer and fall for an opportunity to achieve their end of the season goals. Unfortunately, a CPS Teacher's Strike solution was not reached in time to allow the student-athletes a proper send-off. 

Enter Chris Wilhite of Dick Pond Athletics and Nike Running.

Wilhite, a former student-athlete from Mather High School, has always been an ally to the sport of running at the youth and high school level. On any given day, Wilhite can be seen at the Dick Pond Store that he manages in Park Ridge, providing top-notch service to all customers. Wilhite is also a staple to the community at large spreading the goodwill that so many in the running community needs and desires.

Such was the case that the Illinois High School Association attempted to put a kibosh on the CPS kids attempting to enter the state series after the strike was over. Wilhite and Nike as well as several other entities came in and assisted with an alternative meet.

The "Chicago City State Meet" was born.

The participants were all CPS runners from elementary school to a high school whose post-season or championship race that was directly affected as a result of the strike was eligible to compete in the event. 

Julia Benes (Jr., Jones Prep) was able to compete in last weekend's Lake Park Sectional. However, like so many CPS runners, the last-minute decision to compete at an optimum level had lost its luster. In this affair, Benes was able to prepare on her own terms and run freely. She did just that in establishing a new personal best time in 18:48. Lane Tech girls collectively gave it one last hurrah and came away with their best overall effort of the year in winning with 60 points. The Lady Indians led by two top-ten finishes Megann Lawlor (Sr.)-5th and Sophia Rivera (Jr.)- 6th led the charge for the team.

1Lane Tech High School605+6+14+16+19 (24+32)0:43 1-5 Split | 19:43 Avg
2Jones College Prep751+7+13+26+28 (34+35)1:49 1-5 Split | 19:51 Avg
3Taft High School913+15+18+22+33 (46+53)1:41 1-5 Split | 19:59 Avg
4Payton High School1014+10+23+27+37 (39+42)1:47 1-5 Split | 20:05 Avg
5Whitney Young High School1068+17+20+30+31 (40+41)1:12 1-5 Split | 20:12 Avg


Ian Bacon (Sr., Jones Prep) was one of those runners who dealt with hardship his entire high school career. Bacon endured injury and setback most of his four years of service for the highly charged Eagles program. His ultimate dream was to see his state-ranked team advanced to state last weekend. The Eagles placed eighth at the loaded Lake Park Sectional. Three of Bacon's teammates advanced to state as individuals: Anthony Maida, Aaron Hou, and Ryan Desantis.

Bacon got out will the first mile ahead of a charging Lane Tech pack led by Tommy Donohoe (Sr.), Jack Burns (Sr.), Jonathan Archer (Jr.), and Declan Toomey (Jr.). The group sizzled past the billboard around 4:50-4:55.

Bacon continued to lead at two miles just a shade over 10:00, but Donohoe joined in the resistance and battled with Bacon in the final half-mile. Once the race entered the Montrose track facility, Bacon used his lethal leg speed to hold off Donohoe 15:09-15:13. Both runners would get a measure of redemption with personal bests. Lane Tech would score the team win with 23 points. 

1Lane Tech High School232+3+4+6+8 (10+12)0:45 1-5 Split | 15:39 Avg
2Jones College Prep461+7+11+13+14 (15+17)1:16 1-5 Split | 16:01 Avg
3Taft High School825+16+19+20+22 (26+29)1:03 1-5 Split | 16:27 Avg
4Solorio Academy15724+28+32+35+38 (53+59)1:03 1-5 Split | 17:20 Avg
5Payton High School1839+39+42+45+48 (49+55)2:28 1-5 Split | 17:50 Avg