By Tim Cronin
WESTERN SPRINGS – Sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth and go.
That’s what Brielle Morris did in the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional on Nov. 2.
Morris ignored the pain from her ailing left ankle. She ignored the mud and the poor footing on the path that was more like gravy in spots. She persevered, and took 36th place in 20:28.55, 14 seconds behind fellow junior Paige Killen, the lead Sandburg runner, who placed 31st in 20:14.48.
Morris was the last of the seven individuals not on qualifying teams to advance to the IHSA Championship at Detweiller Park in Peoria. She finished 5.17 seconds ahead of Plainfield North’s Michelle Masis to grab the last berth.
“It was really hard,” Morris said. “I tried to push through the ankle injury, and the mud felt like concrete the entire time.
“At some points, I felt like I was in slow-motion. It was crazy.”
Running a three-mile race necessitates strategy, some of which is tossed aside in poor conditions. But Morris stuck to hers.
“I think I could have gone a little bit better,” Morris said. “At the end, it started getting really, really hard. The ankle, I tried not to think about it.”
The meet was held at Lyons Township’s South Campus because of flooding at the designated host site in Hinsdale. Lyons’ three-mile circuit is really a one-mile path run three times. That made each succeeding lap that much more treacherous. The smarter runners took to one side or the other of the five-foot wide track and hoped for better footing.
The Eagles finished ninth as a team, 170 points behind Downers Grove North, the last of the five qualifying teams.
When Sandburg cross-country is spoken of, it’s usually the boys. Morris is part of an elite group that wants to change that.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done this season, making a name for ourselves,” Morris said. “It motivates me to build up this program to get where the boys are, because they’re so successful. Next year is going to be a big season for this team.”
Mother McAuley junior Evelyn Rowan also advanced, finishing 32rd in 20:17.43 to take the fifth of seven individual spots.
Brenna Cohoon won the race and led Downers Grove South downstate with a time of 18:17.56 in the slop.
Marist was eighth in the team race with 270 points, but their best runner, sophomore Nora McClory, was too slow to qualify in 20:52.38, finishing 42nd. McAuley (318) was ninth, Stagg (338) 12th, and Oak Lawn (468) 17th.