Written by Dennis Mahoney.
Even with a peak performance from all of his runners at the Niles West Regional Saturday, Evanston girls cross country coach Zachary Herrmann knew that it wasn’t likely that the Wildkits could catch state power and Central Suburban League South division champion New Trier in the team race.
So Herrmann came up with an alternate plan and turned the nine-team regional competition into a dual meet with Loyola Academy.
That plan worked to perfection as the Wildkits outscored the Ramblers 66-68 in the battle for second place at the regional, and earned an automatic team berth at next Saturday’s Lake Park Sectional. New Trier set the qualifying pace with 22 points, and Glenbrook South (89), Niles West (133) and Glenbrook North (155) also advanced their entire teams.
Joining the girls will be all of the members of the ETHS boys squad, who captured one of the team berths with a sixth place showing in their race.
Kyla Steman, sixth in 18 minutes and 13 seconds, and Emma Dzwierzynski, seventh in 18:13, provided the 1-2 punch at the top and the ETHS pack also delivered behind Camilla Zecker , 15th in 19:06; Gabrielle Dinsmore, 18th in 19:28; and Lydia Hoopingarner, 20th in 19:36.
Zecker passed Loyola’s No. 3 runner in the final 300 meters of the 3-mile race and Hoopingarner, a senior, clinched the runnerup team finish with a personal best time of her own.
“At Thursday’s team meeting I handed out results from our conference meet along with the results from Loyola’s conference meet,” said Herrmann. “I posed a very simple question to the girls --- figure out what we need to do to beat Loyola. Throughout the entire race I saw girls matching themselves up with Loyola’s runners, extending themselves, and staying aggressive.
“Now regardless of what happens at the sectional, as long as we continue to stay focused and race our best, this season will be noted as a huge step for our program.”
In the boys competition, Evanston racked up a team total of 184 points and trailed only New Trier (27), Loyola (41), Glenbrook South (98), Niles North (113) and Glenbrook North (143).
Coach Don Michelin’s squad was led by junior Carl Klamm, who ran 15th overall in 15:57. Next best for the Wildkits were Estaban Escobar, 29th in 16:36; Ben Butler, 38th in 16:52; Spencer Eanes, 50th in 17:12; and Conrad Gordon, 52nd in 17:19.
Saturday at Lake Park, the girls sectional race will take place at 2 p.m. with the boys race set for 3 p.m.