By Jane Berry
The boys’ cross country team went into sectionals with a positive attitude, despite the fact that state was not a guarantee for them.
“I think today is going to go well,” head coach Mike Stokes said. “It’s a beautiful day. We ran well last week and there is no reason to believe we wouldn’t run well today.”
The Knights were ranked 6th in the sectional at the start of the day, but only the top five teams from each sectional go down to state. Based on their season and current rankings, Palatine and Lake Zurich were shoe-ins to go down to state, but the last three spots were a toss-up between Prospect, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, and Barrington. The boys knew they had to be on their game.
At the beginning of the race, the Knights seemed to stay fairly close together. Seniors Michael Thill, Josh Campos, and junior Quentin Shaffer were just behind junior Michael Leet, and senior Connor Fitzgerald, sophomore Blake Hallman, and senior Ethan Koch were just behind them in the pack.
By the first mile, six boys had set themselves apart from everyone else. Leet was the sixth. The rest of the boys started to spread out.
“Today I just wanted to catch the guys out front and stay with them,” Leet said.
At the two mile marker, Leet was fifth, Shaffer and Thill were 12th and 13th respectively, and Campos started to fall behind. Luckily, Koch and Fitzgerald were pushing forward.
“Sometimes you see your teammates around you and know everyone is getting tired, but then you think ‘we are knights and should be proud of that’. I just had to keep pushing myself,” Fitzgerald said.
The boys really gave a kick at the shoot. Leet placed fourth, Shaffer, 13th, Thill, 17th, Koch, 29th, Fitzgerald, 42nd, Hallman 54th, Campos, 83rd.
The Knights placed second overall, beating Lake Zurich. The whole team will go down to state next weekend.
“This was our victory because we ran great; we ran together; we ran in blue,” Leet said.