Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year: Rosary’s Chiara Surtz makes her own mark, leads third place at state

Rosary sophomore Chiara Surtz running at the Class 1A state meet in Nov. Photo courtesy of Christian Surtz of SurtzMedia, LLC and Rosary Athletics.

Chiara Surtz’s motivation to become the runner she’s blossoming into originates a number of years ago.

After all, she had a superb example right in front of her.

Lianna Surtz, a previous Kane County Chronicle honoree, is Chiara’s older sister by three years.

Chiara Surtz is the 2022 Kane County Chronicle Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“Since a young age, I’ve seen Lianna improve throughout her running and that motivates me,” said Chiara, a Rosary sophomore. “She sets a really good example by training smart and taking care of herself. But she’s also one of my very supportive siblings and I’m really proud of what she’s accomplished. I know she’s proud of me as well.”

“Following in the footsteps is an honor.”

Managing the expectations, given her last name, does bring some pressure. But Surtz doesn’t worry much about it. She’s insulated with a supportive family, team and coaches, she said.

“So whatever I do, everyone will be proud of me,” she said.

Surtz is blazing her own mark right before everyone’s eyes, finishing second at both regionals and sectionals and placing 16th at the Class 1A state meet earlier this month.

“It definitely gave me the encouragement that I needed,” Surtz said of her All-State performance. “Going into the season, I wasn’t really sure how I would do individually. But with the support of my team and everyone, it just made me realize that [I was] more capable than I thought I was. It’s really motivational because I know I can keep improving in my running.”

As a team, Rosary had a program best third-place effort at state.

“Since the beginning of the season, we knew our team had a lot of potential,” Surtz said. “I think subconsciously having the idea of state and other important races in the back of our minds helped push us throughout the season. Working together as a team during practices and races really just helped us all. It helped improve the team as a whole. I’m really grateful for my teammates because everyone supports each other and it’s a really nice bond that we have.”

Rosary coach Vic Mead said Surtz is a hard worker and “she’s running smart for herself [and] savvy.”

“She’s learning about herself all the time,” Mead said. “Learning that she’s strong enough to go out in the beginning of a race and hold on strong because she can trust her training. She puts in the miles and she gains confidence from doing the work and putting in the miles. With the right workouts, she doesn’t get quite as nervous.

“I was kind of happy to hear her say as we were getting closer to state, she goes, ‘I’m not worried about state. I’m ready for state.’ It was like, ‘Oh, OK, I’m not going to worry about you.’”

Because of Surtz’s work ethic, Mead is hoping she’ll end up in the same echelon as her sister by the time she’s a senior.

“I try not to compare her to Lianna. She’s her own person,” Mead said. “But they’re both surrounded by people like her brother [Christian] and people who know running. So they’re running smart and they know what they have to do. ...[Chiara is] such a smooth runner.”

All Area List

Marley Andelman, St. Charles East; Margaret Andrzejewski, St. Francis; Sofia Borter, Geneva; Liliana Bednarek, Batavia; Norah Dorrance, St. Charles North; Natalie Goettsch, Rosary; Olivia Kunio, Rosary; Morgan Sandlund, St. Charles East; Brooke Silbernagel, Batavia; Chiara Surtz, Rosary; Vivian Wyller, Rosary