LT cross country season returns, teams seek to place high in invitational meets

Boys, girls teams push each other, runs in LT invitational


Finn Murrary ’23, Joey Hermann ’23, Hudson Wulff ’24 use pack running strategy through race on Sept. 15th at SC fields (Burke/LION).

Molly Burke, Sports Editor

As one of the largest sports at LT, boys and girls cross country has begun their season and plans to accomplish many of their goals, especially getting as many athletes as possible to qualify for the state meet. Last year, the girls team made it to sectionals, but the runners didn’t perform as well as they wanted to and not many girls made it to the state meet, Anna Bylsma ‘24 said.

“Our ultimate goal is to get our team to state, as well as trying to achieve our personal records,” Bylsma said.

The girls team has fallen to many challenges over the course of the season, Julianne Melby ‘24 said. Although she is expected to return, top runner Catherine Sommerfeld ‘23 has been out due to a hip injury since the start of the season running in no meets.

“We have a lot of injuries right now, which is not ideal,” Melby said. “But I think working together as a team through the hard days and knowing when to stop pushing yourself to prevent injury will help our team out a lot.”

Creating connections with each other is really important for the girls team. Pushing each other during practice and spending time together in a less competitive environment outside of cross country is something they focus on, Melby said.

“Sometimes it’s hard to feel that connection with teammates since you’re competing against them, but you also want them to do well,” Melby said. “Realizing that we all have the same goal makes it possible for us to have that team bond.”

To influence connections throughout the team, varsity head coach Eric Simon believes leaders should emerge naturally and anyone who wants to lead can do so. 

“My expectation is that upperclassmen set the tone with regard to hard work, tradition, and culture,” Simon said.

Similarly for the boys team, creating connections and goals between the runners is important to the team, Vincent Stobart ‘23 said. This summer, the top 25 boys on the team went on a retreat to Oregon, Ill., where they had team meetings to come up with goals for the season.

“Our team’s main goal is to close the time gap between the top five runners, as well as finish in the top five at the state tournament,” Stobart said.

As one of those top runners for the boys team, Aidan Collins ‘23 feels that to accomplish their goals, the team has to be smart about training, as some of the top runners can only handle so much mileage.

“To stay healthy, we need to be cautious on the type of surface we run on, cross training on the bike and elliptical and just taking care of the body,” Collins said. “Making sure everyone is getting full recovery and stretching is key.”

Team captains Teddy Coyne ‘23, Ruben Guevara ‘23, Jack Meyers ‘23, Michael Ferrell ‘23, Stobart, and Collins strive for connections throughout the whole season, Stobart said. This year the top group went to Six Flags, had pool parties, and volunteered together at a local 5k race.

“I feel like we have gotten much closer [as] teammates compared to last year because of the more team outings we have done,” Stobart said.

On Sept. 3, LT hosted the Mike Kuharic Invitational for boys and girls cross country. Kuharic coached boys cross country for 31 years and is very respected by the cross country community, Simon said. Multiple high schools ran in the invite including Maine South, Sandburg, Riverside-Brookfield, Benet and Downers Grove South.

“The team ran great on all levels at the invite,” Simon said. “This team has shown they can be a great pack running team, which can lead to great success on race day and we will continue to practice with this mentality.”

The girls varsity team took home first place and was led by Shannon Cranny ‘24 in second place, with Charlotte Lange ‘23, Melby and Bylsma in third, fourth and fifth and Scarlett Lestina ‘23 taking eighth.

Boys varsity placed second as a team, scoring six points behind Maine South. Nicholas Strayer ‘24 led the pack winning first place, along with Cillian Henning ‘24 in fourth and Collins in ninth.

“Some of the underclassmen really stood out and earned a top seven spot,” Collins said. “Individually, I don’t think it was my best race because I psyched myself out a bit mentally and didn’t move up when I needed to in the middle of the race. I need to take this negative and turn it into a positive going into the next race.”

Boys and girls team will compete next at the St. Charles invitational on Oct. 1.