Tori Salazar had a tough decision to make over the summer.
So far, it appears she made a wise one.
Salazar chose to leave Lemont, where she lived with her mother, to move in with her father Jose, in Darien. Her plan meant leaving Lemont High School after two years and enrolling at Hinsdale South for her junior year.
She’s become comfortable at her new school despite leaving close friends. And Hinsdale South has benefitted as well, as she’s been a huge boost to the Hornets’ girls cross country team.
“She’s a good addition to the team,” Hinsdale South coach Gail Huster said. “She’s doing well, obviously. Sarah Leganski was our No. 1, but she challenges Tori now.”
It was Leganski who gave Salazar a tour of the school during her first week. Leganski had been Hinsdale South’s top runner the past two seasons and narrowly missed advancing out of the Class 3A sectional.
“Sarah and I have gotten really close,” Salazar said of her junior classmate. “She has definitely helped me a lot. She knew the school a lot. We talked about the school and she showed me around my classes.”
Leganski is introducing Salazar to club activities and Salazar said she would like to get involved in student council.
In Saturday’s Minooka Flight Invitational at Channahon Park, the Hornets (80 points) placed 11th in the 16-team meet. Salazar took 12th (19:38) in the Flight 1 race while Leganski was 10th (19:54) in Flight 2.
The meet gave Salazar a chance to reunite with her former teammates. Lemont sophomore Claire Gagen (19:20) beat Salazar by eight seconds and took 10th in Flight 1.
“Minooka didn’t go well,” Salazar said. “Lemont was there, but I always do bad at Channahon Park every year. The course is good. It’s faster, but it’s hard when I run there. I have no one to pace off with. It’s a mental thing.”
Salazar and Leganski are clearly Hinsdale South’s top runners this season. They were the team’s 1-2 at the Hornet-Red Devil Invitational Sept. 7 when Salazar was 56th and Leganski 60th. Salazar’s top finish this season was third in the Reavis Invitational Sept. 14.
The addition of Salazar gives the Hornets an experienced runner with two state meets under her belt. She was 71st in Class 2A in 2012 and placed 102nd in 2011.
Salazar also competes in track and field during the spring and missed qualifying in the 800 meter run last season.
Salazar and Leganski are expected to lead the Hornets at Oak Park-River Forest Gummerson Invitational at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Schiller Woods in Chicago.
Salazar joined the Hornets when preseason practice began in August, opting to run this summer with her former teammates at Lemont.
“I told her when she’s ready to join the rest of the team, we will welcome you with open arms,” Huster said. “Welcome to the Hornets’ Nest.”