On Tuesday we start the outdoor season. After an indoor campaign that went about as well as we could have hoped, we have high hopes for the second season ahead.
Our meet Tuesday is a dual meet at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, where we will travel with our girls team for what becomes this year an annual event. Last year we invited the Lane Tech boys and girls teams to our track; this year we travel there.
The Lane Tech boys are six-time champions of the Chicago Public League; their girls were narrowly second last year to Whitney Young by 3.5 points. Our girls have won five out of the last six Girls Catholic Athletic Conference outdoor titles, and something like 10 out of 13 indoor and outdoor GCAC meets. This year the Ignatius boys are the Chicago Catholic League indoor champions. So it is a good head to head matchup of two of the best track schools in the city of Chicago.
Last year Lane Tech won on the boys’ side, 71-66, and Ignatius won the girls’ meet, 85-61. The frosh soph meets had similar results, with a close Lane Tech win on the boys side and an Ignatius girls win.
Dual meets are a special kind of event. Only three runners score, 5-3-1 points; only one relay, 5 or none. There is a different kind of lineup strategy involved, and a different kind of race strategy, if winning the meet is the goal. None of the teams will make winning a big priority; good performances at our first outdoor meet of the season after a lay-off is our goal tomorrow. But there are bragging rights of a sort at stake.
Next, on Saturday, April 7, Easter weekend this year, we travel to Argo High School in Summit for an invitational meet. We won’t be at full strength for the meet, which takes place on our vacation. We have already had a full high school sports season that began in mid-January; we are somewhat forgiving of boys who have to miss the meet as families take time together for vacations. We have a meet on the second weekend of the vacation, as well, on April 14 at Homewood Flossmoor, and we have asked our families to arrange their schedules so that our varsity boys can make one of the meets.
But on April 7 there is now another event on our schedule, as well. Junior Jack Keelan will travel to Arcadia High School outside Los Angeles to run at the top flight Arcadia Invitational in the special invited athletes section of the 3200 meter run. He’s taking a college trip to California with his father during our spring break, and the meet fits in nicely. He was especially excited when he got news that he had made the special heat of the 3200. Reports suggest that some other Illinois athletes will join him there, including state cross country champ Leland Later of New Trier High School. (The end of this Wilmette Sun-Times article has information about Later’s trip to Arcadia.)
Keelan skipped the Illinois Prep Top Times meet, in part, because he wanted to prepare for Arcadia. After some serious thought, we made a decision to keep him out of the Lane Tech meet this week, as well. We’re putting all the eggs in the Arcadia basket, and we will prepare him for the Saturday night race with as “normal” a week as we can, considering he also has to travel to California. He’ll take his usual long run on Sunday, run track workouts on Monday and Wednesday, and take shorter runs on Tuesday and Thursday.
Keelan was a little bit torn about missing the Lane Tech meet, worrying that the team needs his points to win. We’ve told him that a good performance in California will do more for the team, in a larger sense, than scoring some points against Lane Tech.
The race goes off at 9:00 PM California time, 11:00 in Chicago. We think there will be a webcast of the race. If you are interested, you can try here at the meet web site: http://www.runnerspace.com/ArcadiaInvite.
As we go outdoors to compete this week, we can say for the first time—let’s hope for good weather in two states! And to cover my bases: It is time to take the team tent out of storage, put on my hat, and buy some more sunscreen.