Payton cross-country runner competes in IHSA regional despite judge’s order
There was also a gathering of more than 30 Public League runners at River Park on the Northwest Side.
Cross-country season officially ended Saturday for Public League teams, a day after a Cook County judge denied their last-minute request to compete while the Chicago Teachers Union strike goes on.
But not all Chicago Public Schools runners were ready to stop.
An unidentified runner from Payton attempted to run in the Class 2A Latin girls race, but did not finish.
“I did notice that she was running in the group,” meet official Kerry Dean said. “She was not officially in the race.”
Dean said he would include the incident in his report to the IHSA.
There was also a gathering of more than 30 Public League runners at River Park on the Northwest Side. They ran a 3-mile race against the clock.
With IHSA by-laws banning athletes at striking schools from postseason competition — unless the state series began before the strike started — the two regionals at Lincoln Park had noticeably smaller fields. The Class 3A Young races had only two teams: Oak Park-River Forest and Leyden.
Runners from Jones, Lane and Taft showed up at Lincoln Park anyway.
“I think I’ve accepted there isn’t much more we can do about it except to watch,” Jones senior Ian Bacon said. “And it’s a really hard thing to accept.”
But he had no thought of staying away.
“There wasn’t one moment where I considered not coming,” Bacon said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the community and it’s about running, no matter what decision the court made. So we just wanted to come out and support the people who were running.”
The feeling was mutual.
“It kind of sucks,” said St. Ignatius sophomore Sam Hansen, who won the Latin Regional boys race. “We know how hard they all work; we all want it so bad. It hurts me and it hurts our whole team.
“Those kids have been working so long and then they get denied to show what they’ve been doing. Regional, sectional, state — that’s our chance to show what we’re doing the whole year.”
Oak Park’s Josephine Welin and Eamon Cavanaugh, who won the girls and boys titles in the Young Regional, also sympathized with their sidelined rivals.
“It’s really unfair that they don’t get to run at all,” Welin said. “It would have been a lot more fun if we had some competition.”
“If we were in their shoes, I just can’t even imagine what I’d feel like,” Cavanaugh said.
At River Park, Public League runners got one more chance to race and to chase some individual goals.
Von Steuben junior Maximilian Barrios was especially eager to run after having to drop out of his last race, the Public League meet on Oct. 16.
“In the back of my mind, I just thought about how frustrated I was we couldn’t run regionals,” Barrios said.
He channeled those feelings into a breakout performance, running 15:26.1 to beat his personal best by 30 seconds and win by 46 seconds.
“It shows me I could definitely have qualified for state,” he said.
Lindblom junior Brennan Taylor also can’t help but think about what might have been.
“This last week has been kind of crazy,” said Taylor, who attended Friday’s court hearing. “I respect that the judge made the decision and she followed the law, and I respect that decision. But it’s a little aggravating. I would have liked to run regionals; I had a chance for state.”
Mather senior Anas Hirsi has different goals, many of which he’s already achieved. Since joining the Rangers after moving to Chicago from Wisconsin as a sophomore, he has lost more than 50 pounds to his current 158. His times have dropped along with his weight, going from around 20 minutes last fall to a PR of 17:58 this season.
“At the beginning, it was really hard,” he said. “I was kind of resistant. I wasn’t a runner. I’ve seen people run and [thought], ‘This is so hard, this is not going to be me. This is not for me.’
“But the team just felt like a family. They accept you. They welcome you.”