When Kris Roof took over as Lane boys cross country coach 12 years ago, he was faster than most of his runners.
A lot has changed in Public League distance running since then, pretty much all of it for the better. Young’s Lavinia Jurkiewicz won the Class 3A girls state title in 2009 and Jones raced to the Class 2A boys championship last fall, ending lengthy city droughts for both individual and team winners.
Now Lane’s boys and Jones’ boys are hoping to keep the momentum going at this year’s state finals on Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Lane’s 1963 crown was the last Chicago Public Schools team title before Jones. Led by Jon Vara, Pavel Hutsayuk and David Schieg, The Indians have been near the top of DyeStatIl.com’s Class 3A ratings all season and were No. 5 in the final rankings. But they are coming off a fifth-place sectional finish at Lake Park.
“The boys are confident,” Roof said. “They know they kind of got knocked off the pedestal they were on throughout the season [at the sectional]. We’ll fix our No. 5 [runner] problem that we had last week.
“Our goal going into the season was definitely top 10. That changed as the season went on.”
Now the hope is to earn the program’s first trophy since a third-place finish in 1964. “We have to keep that split [from the first to fifth runners] ideally under 30 seconds,” Roof said.
Jones graduated All-Staters Jamison Dale, Luke O’Connor and Kirby Lawson from its title team, and has just one senior — No. 1 runner and regional and sectional champ Peter Schaible — in its top seven.
“The team is a new identity and a new dynamic, which we expected it to be,” said Jones coach Andrew Adelmann, whose team is ranked 10th in 2A. “We’ve gone through the normal ups and downs. All we can do is give our best effort and let the chips fall where they may.”
Where that will be is anyone’s guess. “Depending how the race plays out, I think there are seven or eight teams with the potential to get it done,” Adelmann said. “I think we could finish as high as on the podium [in the top three] and we could finish as low as we’re ranked right now.”
Junior Markiyan Protsiv, Jones’ seventh man much of the season but its second finisher at the U-High Sectional, could be an X-factor. He, along with Schaible and Kyle Maloney, could give the Eagles strength up front.
Elsewhere, Class 3A top-ranked York will try to bounce back from a subpar sectional race to give coaching icon Joe Newton his 29th state title. No. 2 Hinsdale Central has been close to the Dukes and is looking for its first championship.
Illiana Christian’s boys, top-ranked in Class 2A, needed a sixth-man tiebreaker to edge past No. 4 Yorkville at the Wheaton Academy Sectional.
On the girls side, Madeline Perez of Glenbard West will try to defend her Class 3A individual title in just her fourth race of the season after missing significant time with an injury. She’s also hoping to help the No. 2 Hilltoppers prevail against top-ranked defending champ Naperville North in the team race, while Yorkville’s girls are going for a three-peat in Class 2A.