Lane sweeps boys and girls city cross-country championships

Photos by Brandon Parker/OSA

By Mike Clark

On a chilly, windy and rainy Saturday morning at Washington Park, Mather senior Mohamed Abdullahi just had to block out all the distractions.

“It’s hard,” he said. “The day before (the race), I was getting down, (thinking), ‘I cannot do this,’ and stuff like that. My back was hurting, I was just trying to make excuses for myself.

“But I said, this is for my team, because the team is the most important thing ever. They build you and they (help you) become the person you are.”

Abdullahi came through for the Rangers, winning the Public League boys varsity title in 15:09.8. Fellow senior Will Kozlowski was runner-up in 15:14.5 and led Lane to the team title, 39-56 over Payton. Mather (77), Jones (105) and Young (115) rounded out the top five.

The 3-mile course was scenic, but also treacherous in spots with the steady rains making for tricky footing.

“When you came out of turns, there was a lot of mud,” Abdullahi said. “I just told myself, ‘Quick stride and (swing my) arms.'”

Mather boys coach Joe Sullivan expected his top runner to fare well.

“We were confident,” Sullivan said. “His training’s been coming along the way we wanted it to. … We feel like he’s running his best at the right time.”

Rounding out the top five individuals were Jones’ Sam Berlinghof (15:22.6), Payton’s Gavin Lee (15:23.2) and Mather’s Hirsi Hirsi (15:31.4).

In the girls varsity race, Northside junior Lulu Ton-That took control early and breezed to victory in 18:24.1. Taft’s Hannah Diete was second in 18:44.7, followed by Lane’s Ainsley Carter (19:23.1), Kenwood’s Stephy Venuti (19:29.7) and Lane’s Lucy McNally (19:38.2).

The soggy condition of the course meant Ton-That was just focused on winning and not on any time goal.

“It was definitely an interesting race,” she said. “It was just all about place. Just go, go go and I didn’t even look at my watch once.”

Times will become more of a focus as Ton-That and the rest of the state’s runners head into the IHSA series. Regionals are this weekend, followed by sectionals and then the state meet Nov. 4 at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

“I haven’t gotten quite to my PR yet,” Ton-That said. “But we’ve done a lot of quality races … and I think that really helped with the competitiveness, getting ready for the championship season.”

Lane won the girls varsity title 44-68 over Jones, with Payton (93), Young (126) and Taft (166) also in the top five.

In fact, the Champions swept all eight team titles: varsity boys and girls, frosh-soph boys and girls, freshman boys and girls and open boys and girls. 

That was the goal going into the meet, according to Lane boys and girls coach Kris Roof. 

“We kind of constructed our lineup, start at the top and work your way down,” he said. “Overall, the quality of the boys (race) was very good. We’re definitely thrilled. The guys had a great summer of running and it did pay off.

“Will (Kozlowski) really wanted to win. He lost out to a very good runner. His goal is still top 10 in the state.”

Another bright spot was sophomore Tristan Wong, who was Lane’s fifth man and finished 12th overall.

“He likes to start in the back and climb his way up,” Roof said.

On the girls side, Roof said, “really, really pleased with our freshman Ainsley (Carter) for being aggressive from the gun. Our underclassmen really performed very well in that race.”

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