Runners, swimmers are back in action

Red Devil athletes learning resilience as they face an unusual season due to COVID-19

The six Hinsdale Central team that are competing in the fall season have all faced their first opponents and are hoping to stay healthy - and motivated - throughout the season.

This is the second installment of fall sports previews. The boys and girls golf and girls tennis team were featured Sept. 3.

Boys cross country

First meet: Sept. 3 vs. LT (V lost 20-41)

Last year: fifth at conference, 12th at state

Head coach: Jim Westphal

Seasons as head coach: 16

No. team members: 75

Strengths: They are extremely hardworking. Given all the stuff that has been thrown their way since last spring, I would say they are definitely resilient.

Challenges: Just being safe and staying healthy is probably the biggest thing. At any moment, this could all stop.

Who to watch: I think that senior group - Piyush Mekla, Henning Ley, David Lacayo, Victor Bouret - guys like that will be interesting to watch because this is such a unique time, just how they are going to respond each week.

Outlook: I think we're going to be better at the end of the season, come mid-October, than we are now, because overall fitness and getting in race shape is going to take a few weeks. I think we'll be competitive. Our conference is super-competitive. Even when we get beat, we get beat by extremely good teams. We know where we stand each week, which is good.

Furthermore: When we're here practicing, I think it's kind of like business as usual. I think it's their time just to be kids again and be able to focus on something they really enjoy.

Girls cross country

First meet: Sept. 3 vs. LT (V lost 22-35)

Last year: won conference, third at state

Head coach: Mark McCabe

Seasons as head coach: 20

No. team members: 41

Strengths: This year it's a bit of a different year in that we're a very young team. Of all our top eight runners in the varsity (race) on Saturday, only one is a senior, so it is a very young team. It's also very inexperienced. Other than Catie McCabe and Sarah Fischer and Louisa Brorson, virtually everybody is new. It is a team that is going to come a long way over the course of the season.

Challenges: This is a very different year. We're always focusing on individual and personal improvement, because that is what is going to improve the team. I think even more so this year - without a state meet, without an end of the year major championship, I think it's even more of a case where you're really focused on individual improvements and building toward the future.

Who to watch: Katie McCabe, she's a sophomore. She was our top finisher on Saturday. Sarah Fischer, another sophomore, and then Louisa Brorson, who is a junior. She is out right now with a minor injury. Those are our three returners from the state meet last year. Then you've got a freshman, Cate McDonnell, who has been a great addition. Cate and Isabella Terry, who is a junior, are new. Kendall Griffin, senior, who was our fifth on Saturday, she is a first-time varsity runner. We have a lot of newcomers who are really going to contribute and are going to show a huge upward trend.

Outlook: As usual, it is by far the most competitive conference in the state. They're lucky, since we're limited to conference meets this year, we're in a conference where ever meet is going to be a super-competitive meet. Six of the seven teams in our conference are ranked in the top 20 teams in the state right now. Five of our seven meets are at KLM, so it's really nice for the kids to be able to compare times.

Furthermore: All those lessons you try to teach in life - overcoming adversity and overcoming bumps in the road - it's a great example of that, the times we're living in right now. We're all just excited for the season and just grateful that we have a chance to compete.

Girls swimming

First meet: Sept. 3 vs. LT (V won 95-49)

Last year: 11th at state

Head coach: Bob Barber

Seasons as head coach: 21

No. team members: 68

Strengths: An incredible, talented group coming back with that now sophomore class. Some great senior leadership and a couple of freshman to add onto the varsity group. We have depth in virtually every event, and we would have had some incredible relays had we had the opportunity to put them together. USA Swimming opened their doors early June, mid-June, so these kids got back in the water. They've focused on the opportunity to be able to race.

Challenges: They've got to find a reason to work hard. We don't know what our ending meet is, essentially. We know when we are ending - if we can make it all the way through - but we don't know what that structure is. We're still working on how many kids that might consist of. I think the challenge also is bringing everyone's mentalities into one program. We have to adhere to the state's request, the conference rules. We are trying to get all of these teenage athletes to understand what it takes to keep your program running for the entire season, because I think everyone

has different beliefs.

Who to watch: Out of the gate it will be Kendall Pickering, who missed our pool record by 3/10 in our inner squad. Kit Schneider dominated tryouts. Laney Quinones is focused on being ready for college swimming. She's got a lot to show off this season. Incoming freshman Burlingtyn Bokos, she's showing promise in the distance events. Roslyn Tischke, diving, is coming off a great year last year.

Outlook: We're going to be highly competitive in whatever venue they give us.

Furthermore: Honestly, I'm thankful for the opportunity. We were all sitting around waiting, not knowing what was going to come. To find out last minute we were going to have to put something together - I've watched these girls rally to make sure they have the opportunity to do it. They are doing the best they can to hold onto it. I'm very proud of how they are adhering to the social distancing protocols here at Hinsdale Central and I'd like to see us try to make it all the way through to a full season.

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean