Chasing success

MCHS girls cross country team raced in IHSA state tournament for the first time in program history


Ary Juarez

Members of the girls cross-country team march through the halls of the Upper Campus on Nov. 4 before departing for the IHSA State Cross Country Meet that weekend in Peoria. This was the first time in MCHS history that the whole team qualified for State.

Mackenzie Sroka, Sports Editor

As the last runner crosses the finish line, their team cheers them on and the whole team celebrates jumping up and down in the wet morning dew. Parents, coaches, and family celebrate as well, congratulating the girls on the results of their efforts this season as a team. The girls cross country team has just qualified for state. 

Following this sectional tournament race, the girls cross country team qualified for the IHSA State Finals as a team for the first time in program history (44 years), according to the McHenry Warriors athletic page.

Being a part of this historic moment is for more than just the current team, it’s for all the girls in the past who dreamed of going to state as a team. Many of the girls on the current team view it as an opportunity to run for more than just their team and school, and the coaches agree as well. 

“I love looking at the historical stats so it is special to me to have a team go to state for the first time,” described Kevin Horst, the girls cross country head coach, “This race will be for all the MCHS XC girls of the past generations who dreamed of going to state!” 

While it is exciting for the girls to race for the past MCHS teams, most were looking forward to being there in general, as it is a huge accomplishment. 

“I am really excited  because it’s always been my dream, and to come to high school and go to state and especially as a team it’s even better, “ explained Lauren Blake, a varsity girls cross country runner. 

Some of the team has gone to state before as individuals, but others have not. However, all the girls were extremely grateful for their opportunity to go to state this year as a team. 

“For me, I know that I couldn’t have made it to state on my own,” stated Haley Oeffling, a varsity cross country runner, “Getting to go with the team was like the only way of getting to do that, getting to be a part of that is amazing. I get to end my senior year on a high note.”

Going as a team can make it easier on the runners, since they will have the support of their teammates throughout the race and everything surrounding the race. This can make it more special for the girls than going as individuals due to this support. 

“Last year, I just went down with my parents. It was just running where this year I’m able to be with my team, have fun, make more memories,” explained Danielle Jensen, a girls varsity cross country runner, “It’s way different now because the whole team is going so it’s just a lot more exciting and totally different experience.”

At state and throughout the season the girls have worked together to accomplish individual and team goals. They are a close team that pushed themselves and each other to be and do their best. 

“When someone isn’t having the best day, they push you to keep you up there and motivate you to keep running even if it’s hard,” described Blake. 

Throughout the season, the team has worked together to form this bond rather than a few people or individuals. 

“I think that this shows that the girls are really working together and really pushing each other instead of it just being a couple people,” explained Jensen, ”I think it just shows how cross country is really improving, and people are having more of a team mindset.”

Before state, many of the girls had individual goals, which were often very similar, reaching a personal record. Some however were also striving for All-State, which is the top 25 runners in the state. 

“A few of us want to get all-state and PR to really soak it up,” stated Lynda Rotundo, girls varsity cross country runner. 

State was the goal the whole season for the team and individuals, so the team felt that they already met their goal going into state. 

“We all just talked about it, that this is going to be like a fun race at state, and just enjoy the experience because what’s done is done and you can’t really get any higher from state so we’re happy with where we’re at,” described Jensen, “ I am really proud because all the work that we put in finally paid off.”

At State, it wrung true for the team, since, the girls team finished in 11th place overall, with two girls achieving All-State, Danielle Jensen finishing in 14 place and Lynda Rotundo finishing in 25th place, according to IHSA

The accomplishments that the team and individual girls achieved at state and throughout the season will always be a part of our school history and the girls’ lives. 

“I definitely am going to remember this for my whole life,” stated Rotundo.