By Neel Thakkar
Before the girls’ track team ended up second to none in its sectional meet last Thursday, it was actually second to three different teams.
Early in the meet, the team was in second place behind Hersey. When the scores were updated, Hersey had been knocked out of first by Maine South. Meanwhile, Prospect stayed in second.
The next time scores were announced, New Trier had surged to take the lead. Prospect, predictably, remained in second.
It was not until the near the very end that the Knights took first for themselves, winning their second straight sectional title.
The meet could have served as an apt summary of the Knights’ season as a whole — it mirrored the team’s slow start, steady progress and eventual triumph.
From the season’s start, the team was shaken by the loss experienced seniors who chose not to return to the team for their final season. Simultaneously, a record number of freshmen tried out, resulting in a team high on youth but short on experience. This problem was only exacerbated when three of the team’s top distance runners — senior Amy Abdnor, junior Savannah Snead and sophomore Maggie Partridge — were forced out because of injury.
“It’s been a really unusual season,” head coach Dave Wurster said. “The way we got [to first place at sectionals] was not very typical.”
The team now turns its attention to state, to which the team qualified 13 girls, with most running multiple events and three running three events each. The Knights qualified for state in 13 of 28 possible events, but because some of the events are relays, there are more spots than there are events.
Though Wurster doesn’t like his team’s odds at medaling this season, some events have high potential: junior Samantha Sturm, who has qualified for shotput and discus (she broke the school records for each event at the sectional meet), junior pole-vaulter Grace Gruendel, freshman Brooke Wolfe and senior Annette White in the one-mile and two-mile races, and 4x800m relay, a traditional strength for the Knights.
Still, Wurster knows that anything is possible – and that his team has a lot of chances to rack up points after qualifying so many at sectionals.
“Everyone we thought had a chance at qualifying did,” Wurster said.