Tight knit Cross Country program shines; Boys place 3rd at State

DePaul Prep’s boy and girls cross country team had an unforgettable season. Not only did both boys and girls make DePaul Prep history, but they were named as some of the best in the state. 

The first cross country team race started at the 40th “Early Bird” Cross Country Invitational. Following these races included the Legion Park Invitational, the Harvest Catholic Cross Country Invitational, the DePaul Prep Classic, the Pat Savage Invite, and the Elmwood Park. These races lead all the teams — varsity, junior varsity boys and girls — to conference. After many months of dedication all these races added up to a road trip to Peoria to race in IHSA State Meet. 

This was the first time since 2016 the boys team qualified for state as a team. Leading the boys were All State runners Mac Kirtell, finishing 16th overall, and Charlie Richardson, finishing 25th overall in the state race. Ethan Castette, Owen Flom, Will Beebe, Elias Roldan, and Bryan Malkowski made up the remainder of the team.

The boys varsity team came in 3rd place on the podium. One of the members of the varsity winning team, Owen Flom, says his advice “is to stay consistent and always stay motivated.” The state race had a huge crowd come to cheer on in a bus.”

Davis Ruder, a team member who rode the bus down, said, ”My favorite part of this cross country season was state.” He added that he would like to see a bigger fan base next year.

The girls varsity team qualified for state for the first time ever in history. All-Conference Lorelei Travers, Lexi Hallgern, Erin Mannion, Abbey Arseneau, Sydney McLeod, Grace Moller and Izzy Shiffrin all set their personal bests at state and finished 12th out of 30 teams at state. This season was the DePaul Prep cross country team’s most prominent year to come, and it would not have been possible without the help from Coach Oliver, Coach Baum, Coach Pens, Coach Wilson, Coach Nolan, and Coach Deck.

The cross country team is much more than just a state titled cross country team. The team has a motto: nothing can stop what we do together. This is a message that the cross country team uses to remind themselves that they are united, and this sport is so much more than just running. For them, it’s a family. 

Cross Country this season had a retreat at Cricket Hill where goals were set. This was followed by a fun relaxing all team beach day. Every Friday the cross country team also hosted pasta parties. This is where all of the members, freshmen through seniors, get together, eat carbs, and prepare for the busy morning to come.

Team newcomer Lauren Ruder explained,”My favorite part of the season was meeting new people who I will miss a lot, and I loved traveling around to so many different races.”

Some new traditions for the girls team introduced this year were BIG LITTLES. This is where every upperclassman team member was paired with an underclassman. The duos would sit with each “little” on bus rides, write them a note of encouragement, and surprise each other with some sweet treats.

Cross Country also is known for its Friday themed practices. These included “pink out,” “twin with your little,” “white lie shirts: xc edition,” and, the most elaborate of all, “business casual retirement parties” for the seniors on the team. 

The DePaul Prep Cross Country team has a family-like dynamic that defined their success this season. Cross country is one of the leading sports at DePaul, and will continue to become the best in the state, and to make DePaul Prep history.