LT boys cross country Nick Strayer and Cillian Henning. | Photo by Laura Duffy

Lyons Township High School senior boys cross country runner Aidan Collins left sectionals Oct. 29 reflecting on a disappointing race.

He spent his final IHSA Class 3A state meet on Nov. 5 remembering the advice texted to him during the week from former teammate Jocqael Thorpe, now running at Indiana State.

“I kept replaying it in my head throughout the whole race,” Collins said. “He kind of talked about racing with no regrets. Finish the race without having [negative] thoughts.” 

The result was Collins joining standout juniors Nick Strayer and Cillian Henning in making team history at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.

Strayer (15 minutes, 06.67 seconds for 3.0 miles) and Henning (15:06.76) were an impressive ninth and 10th, and Collins 19th (15:22.32) to all earn top-25, all-state individual honors for the first time.

The Lions finished seventh as a team with 239 points, just six points from fifth. Other finishers were seniors Ruben Guevara (96th, 16:08.24) and Matt McGovern (164th, 16:30.24), junior Brendan Whelton (172nd, 16:33.27) and senior Mike Ferrell (182nd, 16:39.32).

Aidan Collins

“It felt great to be all-state, last race for LT. It was kind of just giving it all for that,” said Collins. “I got a little excited when I heard it was going to be a little muddy because that’s my type of race. Other people, it affects them mentally and I think it makes me stronger.” 

This marks the first time the Lions have had three all-staters in one meet. The Lions’ last multiple all-state performance came in 2016.

“This is a storied program and at this point, anything that’s never been done before is usually something incredible,” Strayer said. “I’m just glad to be a part of that.”

Sommerfeld closes out career

Catherine Sommerfeld

The LTHS girls also were seventh as a team, with 293 points. Senior Catherine Sommerfeld was 30th (18:19.95) followed by senior Charlotte Lange (70th, 18:54.68), junior Shannon Cranny (70th, 19:02.55), senior Scarlett Lestina (99th, 19:19.20) and juniors Julianne Melby (122nd, 19:32.69), Kristina Findley (136th, 19:39.02) and Anna Bylsma (139th, 19:41.56).

Sommerfeld, 9.02 seconds from 25th, was an all-state 12th in 2021. This season she was a top-four finisher at conference, regionals and sectionals after a pre-season injury delayed her racing debut until Sept. 24. On Sunday, she verbally committed to Vanderbilt.

“It wasn’t the [state] result I wanted, but I still had a good season regardless and I’m trying to keep my head up,” Sommerfeld said.