Cross Country: Hinsdale South’s Charlotte Old continues upward progression, punches ticket to state
By Bob Narang
BENSENVILLE – Before the start of the season, Hinsdale South sophomore Charlotte Old kept her expectations at a reasonable level.
As the season progressed, Old kept on piling on quality running performances, causing her to raise her goals for the season.
On Saturday morning, Old continued her upward progression, finishing in eighth place with a time of 20 minutes, 37.4 seconds at the Class 2A Fenton Sectional in Bensenville.
Old’s strong performance helped her punch a ticket to next Saturday’s state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
“I didn’t expect this because I knew it was going to be a rough course, so I just went out and tried my best and see how it turned out,” Old said. “At the beginning, I pushed my hardest and tried to coast after that. This is amazing because at the beginning of the season I didn’t expect this, but these past couple of races have gone well for me.”
Old said she gained some confidence following a fourth-place showing at regionals with a time of 19:17.
“Regionals was really good for me,” Old said. “It’s amazing, we’re so excited to go to state. It’s been a a great season and I can’t wait to spend another season with their girls. Everybody tried their hardest, and we’re really happy how everybody did.”
Latin senior Ava Parekh cruised to the 2A individual title in a time of 18:19.7 to help lead her team win the team title with 61 points. Nazareth placed second with 81 points and St. Francis earned fifth with 138 points among local teams. Kaneland notched seventh (169) and Hinsdale South took eighth with 180 points. Fenwick’s Bella Daley placed third (19:25) and Nazareth’s Colette Kinsella got fourth (19:36).
Kaneland junior Alli Gonnella elected not to run last season because of COVID-19, but she’s closing out this season in a flourish. With mud all over her face and arms, Gonnella said she was proud of her accomplishment of finishing 18th (21:06).
The early-morning meet was vastly different than most events, with a DJ playing music throughout the races and providing commentary. With the field muddy and airplanes flying directly above the high school and a Metra train whizzing by several times — just 30 yards away — Gonnella was among a big group of runners who enjoyed the unique atmosphere. At one point, RUN DMC’s “It’s Tricky” was being played loudly during the girls race, providing a suitable description of the race conditions.
“It was such a rough race,” Gonnella said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be so wet and muddy. I love it, the music and everyone is running their best. It’s really nice weather, end of October and it’s sunny and warm. I was confident running and motivated.”
St. Francis junior Leann Ringsrud led the Spartans with a 14th-place time of 20:53.
“It was hard running in all the mud,” Ringsrud said. “My shoes felt I was running in concrete, but I felt strong the entire race. There’s a lot of sounds, but overall I liked it. In the beginning we were, we broke off a bit.
“I’m very proud of our team. We became solidified over the course of the season and became closer and running together for nine weeks. We grew and our skills grew.”
St. Francis sophomore Ava Swiatek rounded out a strong day for her team by ending in 21st place in a time of 21:13.
“I felt it was my toughest race of the season, but I gutted it out in the third mile,” Swiatek said. “It was probably my slowest race. This team is very fun to be around, the best part of my day. I think the team did really well today.”
On the boys side, Fenwick had three runners in the top seven to easily win the sectional team title with 59 points, while Kaneland (98) and Riverside-Brookfield (106) finished in the top three to advance to state. Marist senior Jake Phillips claimed the individual title with a time of 16:18.
Fenwick sophomore Nathaniel McKillop led his team with a fourth-place time of 16:43.
“We did really good as a team,” McKillop said. “It was a very different race with all the mud and other things. You had to get out fast in order to stay away from the pack. With the mud, it wasn’t fun slowing down, so people were pushing each other to avoid stepping into big puddle.
“We had a great team race, a great experience, not a fast course, but it was fun. We all did a great job.”
Riverside-Brookfield sophomore Cooper Marrs led the race “for a few seconds” but was unable to overtake Phillips in the last mile. Marrs notched second in a time of 16:31. Kaneland freshman Evan Nosek made the top 10 cut, finishing in eighth place (16:50).
“It was a tough race, hard to really put that race into perspective,” Marrs said. “My game plan was stick behind Phillips. It was really muddy, so couldn’t make up any ground, especially when he took off. I wanted to win it, it, but I can’t complain about second. My overall goal was to run at state.”