Three Sisters Park is located just 20 minutes north of downtown Peoria and less than a 10-minute drive on Highway 29 in the same direction from the famous Detweiller Park. Several months ago on this same land, the Shazam Championship organizing committee put their collective thoughts together and carved out a championship series for the great runners of all levels. So we here are with the first of two weekends of intense level racing, beginning with the middle school division.
In lieu of the ongoing Pandemic, the meet format was structured into eight races: four girls flighted, four boys flighted with fastest to slowest runners. The runner's cumulative times would then be collected and submitted as an aggregate to determine a team champion.
Although this was a season of uncertainty and in particular the unknown, there was a name for those who follow middle school cross country intently. Mia Kotler of Chicago Latin JH has been bubbling under the surface via several impressive time trials and a few localized races. Cotler represents the Chicago Speed Track Club and is slated to plug into the #1 Latin High School program next fall.
The first flight opened very fast with Kotler speeding out front of the pack and seemingly going after the lead ATV gator. She hit the first set of undercover territory in the woods which featured rolling hills, tree stumps, and a lack of fans. The most mentally challenging part of the course proved a delight for Kotler and fatal for her foes. The future Roman hit the first mile in 5:50 and about 18 seconds ahead of the pack.
Coming out of the woods with just over a half-mile remaining, Kotler was motoring along but her lead was sliced in half. The final straightaway produced a blowtorch headwind that could have easily knocked Kotler to the ground. It was her resolve and strength that carried to a ten-second victory over Stella Davis of Evanston 11:57-12:07.
The fellas start was similar to the girls in that it was a bolting fast start. Aiden Hulett of Batavia Botolo tried to string out the competition. By the first half-mile the pack had closed him down and later at the first mile Ben Gibson of Chicago Latin led in 5:27. Four other runners including Hulett were just a few seconds in back of Gibson.
Coming out of the woods and along the back ridge, it was a duel between Gibson and Ignacio Escamilla of Bolingbrook. Whoever got the edge before the final homestretch would probably win the title. Gibson's size and strength seemed to more than enough as he pulled away from Escamilla to win in 10:32.
Chicago Latin JH
Bolingbrook High School
Kaneland Harter Middle School
Washington Central Grade School