Not to make light of war battles but the 2020 Covid-19 cross country season has put the fifth runner under tremendous stress. If there were an analogy to describe it, the "Siege of Leningrad" might have been the appropriate term. It seemed like these runners had to endure a season-long attack on why good teams could not close out races. One such team tip-toed into the pre-season with the pole position statewide and number five across the land.
Despite the best 1,2,3 punch by a landslide in the state, the Saints had some issues with securing a lockdown #5 runner just as the season opened. Head coach Chris Bosworth gave a true and accurate assessment of his defending state champion Saints. "With so much uncertainty at the end of the track season and the beginning of the summer, it will be interesting to see how this team works together to build the best team possible," he said. "I can see this team having three in the top ten if we have a state meet and four in the top 40. The key will be new additions to the back end of the varsity 7. Runners 5-7 will be new to the varsity level and will take some time to adjust and learn how to race in varsity-level competition."
Enter senior Tyler Tobin who never participated beyond the conference round in his previous three seasons mainly because of the depth of the Saints. After the departure of three notable seniors, several key spots opened up. But as with any great program, it would take hard work upon hard work to have an opportunity to shine in the spotlight.
Coming into the season, Tobin's three-mile personal best was 16:24. That is not an eye-popping stat by any means, but he was able to contribute in a major way at the usual #5 slot. Tobin ran under 16:24 six times (PR dropped to 15:52). His solid contributions while under tremendous pressure (mostly heaped upon him by others) led to the Saints going undefeated through the IHSA season. The last contest was the Lyons Sectional in which York put seven runners ahead of Tobin but he scored low enough to enable his team to win the title.
Coming into the team's biggest meet of the season- the Shazam Championships- there were several checklist items: command each flight with big three, close out the fourth and fifth runners.
Again it was a sensational upfront battle that the Saints won with three of its runners in the top 10. Connor Murphy did his part in flight two that netted a strong placement as the fourth finisher. The icing on the cake even with two flights ahead of him was Tobin playing in the top 10 of flight four and running a strong aggregate time that added only 60 points to the pot. The Saints were able to repeat as the best team in the state with 121 points to defeat Naperville North (156).
-Congrats to Tyler Tobin on winning the closer award of the year.