Eagles survive sectionals

Boys Cross Country qualifies for Shazam Championships

Aaron+Hou+%2721+%28Left%29+and+Andy+Niser+%2721+%28Right%29+during+Sectionals.+Photo+courtesy+of+Andy+Niser+%2721

Aaron Hou ’21 (Left) and Andy Niser ’21 (Right) during Sectionals. Photo courtesy of Andy Niser ’21

Despite off performances from several runners, the Eagles ran well enough to qualify for the Shazam Championships. In a normal year, they would have qualified for the first time the IHSA 3A state meet. 

The race was flighted, meaning that each team selected their two best runners to compete in flight four. They selected their third and fourth best runners to compete in flight three. Flight two featured each team’s fifth and sixth best runner, and flight one featured each team’s seventh best runner. This was done to keep numbers down to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. 

The day started off with flight one featuring each team’s seventh best runner. Ethan Sterling ‘22 competed for the eagles and came through the finish line in 16:05.1. He started off towards the back of the field and moved up to finish sixth in his flight. 

Flight two saw Alan Menninger ‘22 and Ryan San Juan ‘21 race. Both had tough races with San Juan coming through first in 16:04.3, and Menninger following him in 16:26.6. Both got out in the back first mile and then struggled to move up the field as Sterling did. 

Flight three ran similarly for Luke Benes ‘21 and Michael Sommese ‘21. Once again both runners got out towards the back but struggled to move up, resulting in places towards the back half of the flight. Benes finished in 16:05.8, and Sommese crossed the finish line with a time of 15:59.5. 

The last flight of the day featured some of the top runners in the state from other schools, and Andy Niser ‘21 and Aaron Hou ‘21 for the Eagles. Similar to the previous two heats both started towards the back half of the field. However, about a half mile in Hou started to move up. 

Hou made a major push to sixth place and was able to end up finishing in fifth place overall in a time of 15:12.1, making him Jones’ first ever all sectional runner in class 3A. The Eagles ended up finishing seventh overall, which in a normal year would have qualified them for the IHSA state meet.

“I felt that I moved up well and ran a good tactically executed race,” said Hou. “I think I had confidence in my ability, but I was surprised to have moved up as much as I did.”

Despite Hou’s performance head coach Andrew Adelmann said  the team overall did not have a good performance. 

We did not run well at all at Sectionals,” said Adelmann. “We were completely shocked by having tough competition suddenly after a year of only racing City teams and I did not prepare the guys well enough for that either.”

Despite this the Eagles ran well enough to qualify in a normal season for the state championships and this season the Shazam Club Championships. 

“We just did not run our race or execute anything we spoke about,” said Adelmann.  “Luckily, we scraped by enough to hold onto a state qualifying finish.”

Along with Hou, Adelmann said Niser stepped up to help the Eagles qualify. Niser finished 18th overall. 

“Hou was Regional Champion and All-Sectional, but they both basically single-handedly saved us at Sectionals,” said Adelmann. 

Going into the Shazam meet the team tried to refocus to prepare for the high level of competition at that meet. 

“The focus going into Shazam was mainly just getting back to who we were and making sure we were prepared for another tough field again,” said Adelmann. “Getting the experience at Sectionals took care of most of that.”