The 2022 Season in a nutshell could be termed a comeback on its own. For the first time since 2019, there was a true sense of ambition in the air. That ambition meant that previous restrictions and concerns from Covid-19 would be behind us.
And it was.
2022 provided excitement from all over the cross country realm from the beginning of August until the end of the season in November and some in the month of December. Let's get to it!
Athlete of the year-
Grace Schager (Sr., Carol Stream Glenbard North): We all knew that she was ready for a great cross country season after winning the 3A 3200m state title in 10:17.12. However, no one could have predicted the 16:00.2 BOMB at the Harvey Braus Lake Park Invitational during the first invitational weekend of the season. It was rather surreal in seeing a runner joining a select that ran under 16:00, especially so early in the season.
Schager set an IHSA record in the three-mile for the month of August, September, and October. In the season's biggest race, Schager cruised to a 36-second win amid a slick and slop fest type of course. Not only did Schager win the day, but she was also the only runner to break 17:00. Schager completed one of the best individual seasons in state history and kudos to her.
Honorable mention: Tatum David (Sr., Olney Richland County), Juliet Frum (So., Northbrook Glenbrook North), Bria Bennis (Sr., Elmhurst York), Rachel Soukup (Sr. Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge), Brooke Johnston (Sr., Lake Zurich), Mabry Bruhn (Sr., Monticello), Anna Harden (Sr., Arlington Heights Hersey)
Newcomer of the year-
Meg Peterson (Fr., Prospect): If you believe in perseverance and growth, then Meg Peterson is the perfect young woman here. In her first invite of the season at the Harvey Braus Invite at Lake Park HS, Peterson has a small meltdown in which stopped and walked a portion of the race. Though she recovered to finish second in the junior varsity race, Peterson was more than a minute behind teammate Veronica Znajda. The confidence grew each time after Lake Park and the deficit before Znajda also shrunk. It was a great post season with top 10 finishes at the conference and sectional championships. The big prize was the state championship in which she took eighth in 17:43- just six seconds behind top runner Hailey Erickson.
honorable mention: Natalie Bierbaum (Fr., Normal U High), Molly Farrell (Fr., Marshall), Annika Swan (Fr., Chicago St. Ignatius), Sundara Weber (Fr., Sandwich), Sophia Ramirez (Fr., Washington), Lindsey Gerhardstein (Fr., Orland Park Sandburg), Ava Henne (Fr., Grayslake Central), Kylie Simpson (Fr., Rockton Hononegah), Julie Bach (Fr., Normal West), Lily Eddington (Fr., Downers Grove North)
Most improved runner of the year-
Mabry Bruhn (Sr., Monticello): In 2021, Bruhn had a solid season and was on track to be slightly better in 2022. She was tremendous over the course of this fall. Returning off of a season that compromised her health a bit, Bruhn finished 9th in the 1A Championship.
Determined to be the best this season in her classification and an overall elite runner statewide, Bruhn placed first or second in all but one of her races this season. The big kicker was winning her first state crown for Class A but had the third fastest time in a merge (17:08). She also ran 17:17 for 5K which is also a personal best and among the fastest top 10 times for that distance.
Honorable mention: Veronica Znajda (So., Prospect), Evelyn Hett (Sr., Chicago Jones), Paige-Elicia Caruth (Jr., Lake Villa Lakes), Brittney Burak (Sr., Huntley), Breanna Burak (Sr., Huntley), Jade Lavallee (Sr., Chicago Whitney Young), Hannah Diete (Jr., Chicago Taft), Lynda Rotundo (Sr., Mc Henry)