Fenwick High School senior cross country star Olivia Ryan finished a relatively disappointing 22nd with a time of 17 minutes, 5.49 seconds at the IHSA Class 3A state championship last year. As a sophomore Ryan garnered fifth place in the state with her all-time personal record of 16:43.
Ryan sent a strong message to the field she’s as good as ever on Saturday by winning the Roy Gummerson Invitational at Schiller Woods in Chicago. Hosted by Oak Park and River Forest, Ryan won the girls race with a time of 18:05.2, well ahead of runner-up Christine Mujica from Niles West (18:29.4).
Anne Mannion finished third (18:46.7) and Nicole Finn (19:42.5) came in 11th to help Fenwick win the team title with 52 points. Sarah Winkiel (18th, 20:02.8), Margaret O’Brien (22nd, 20:20.4), Mary Grace Babbo (27th, 20:55.3) and Maddie Bilbo (35th, 21:24.4) also ran well for the Friars.
OPRF took second with a score of 57. The Huskies, who qualified for the state finals last season and finished 13th, have been performing well this year although without stellar sophomore Mary Blankemeier. Blankemeier, out for the season with a stress fracture, place fourth at state last year to cap off a superb freshman campaign.
While a Ryan/Blankemeier showdown would have been fun to watch at the Gummerson Invite, OPRF still turned in a solid team performance sans Blankemeier. Hannah Gorin led the way with a time of 19:04.9 to earn fifth place. OPRF teammates Hallie Voss (19:08.5) and Caroline Galo (19:39.8) finished 7th and 10th, respetively.
Other contributors on Saturday for OPRF included: Mahal Schroeder (16th, 20:00.5), Haley Thompson (23rd, 20:32.8), Ainsley Tran (32nd, 21:08.8) and Matilda Msall (33rd, 21:13.8).
“We work very smart and very hard,” OPRF coach Tom Tarrant said. “The girls just really need to tighten the pack. As always it’s about a team effort, especially with our top runner [Blankemeier] out with an injury.”
The Huskies have been running well all season. OPRF has already won titles at Riverside-Brookfield and Marmion, along with third place at Fenton which featured several of the area’s top teams.
Without Blankemeier, the Huskies will continue a “strength in numbers” approach led by Gorin and Voss. Then again, that’s always been Tarrant’s philosophy since he became the Huskies’ head coach four years ago.
“We’re looking for a team of seven running as one,” he said. “Every year has been a successful building block to everyone’s ultimate goal- state championship. It’s a lofty goal, but we hope to make top ten at state this year.”
While Fenwick and OPRF were clearly the class of the pack on Saturday, Trinity recorded a solid seventh-place showing out of 14 teams. Paige Jaffe and Emily Doyle (who both clocked a time of 21:07.6 for 30th place) led the Blazers.
OPRF boys cross country takes 4th; Fenwick earns 7th at Gummerson
In the boys varsity race at Gummerson, OPRF came in fourth (81 points) and Fenwick (179 points) finished seventh. Buffalo Grove took the title with a score of 37.
Jordan Year paced the Huskies at 16:14.8 for 8th place and teammate Martin Pimentel posted a time of 16:20.8 for 10th. Anthony Rizzi turned in the Friars’ best run, finishing 15th at 16:27.9.