Fourteen schools made their way to Kankakee Community College on Wednesday for the annual Irish Conditioner hosted by Bishop McNamara.
The bustling cross country event featured participants from as far away as Seneca and Morris, but the championship plaques will stay close after wins from the Bishop McNamara girls team and the Bradley-Bourbonnais boys team.
The conditioner is a relay-style meet that features teams of two runners instead of individual racers. The first-place Irish girls were led by the team of Eden Rainbolt and Addie Langelett, who finished second overall with a time of 25 minutes, 17 seconds.
“I’ve coached Eden for about five or six years now, and I know I can count on what I’m going to get from her year in and year out,” Irish coach Preston Provost said. “Addie came in as a freshman this year and is really helping to boost our team, and those two pushing each other is going to be big for us.”
The Irish took first place with a team score of 27, a comfortable margin ahead of Beecher in second at 35 and Seneca in third with 38. Herscher finished in fourth with 50 points, Peotone took fifth with 57, Iroquois West came sixth with 59, Bradley-Bourbonnais was seventh with 63, and Illiana Christian was eighth with 75 points.
On the boys’ end of the meet, the Boilermakers’ Jacob Fritz and Boston Brooks narrowly edged Herscher’s Drew Rogers and Ben Morgan to snag the individual first-place medal and lead the way to a team win as well.
Fritz and Brooks finished in 19 minutes, 26 seconds with Rogers and Morgan a mere three seconds behind them in second place.
The Boilers earned their win with 21 points, the Tigers snagged second with 28, and Illiana Christian finished a distant third with 40. Iroquois West finished fourth with 49 points, Morris was fifth with 53, Seneca finished sixth with 54, Chicago Christian took seventh with 56, and McNamara landed in eighth place with 75 points.
In addition to their boys win, the Boilers’ also topped the leaderboards in both the boys and girls fresh/soph races.
“The kids have been working really hard, and I’m excited about their progress today,” Boilers coach Tony Swofford said. “It’s our third race of the year so far, and I’ve seen continued improvement, and I’m super happy for them to get some first-place trophies and see our kids well represented.”
The conditioner is one of the rare opportunities for the Boilermakers to face off against local teams because their schedule is made up of larger SouthWest Suburban Conference schools.
“Cross country is interesting in that it only takes five or six kids to have a really competitive team, and if you look around our area, we are loaded with talent,” he added.
“Clifton is really deep; you saw Bishop McNamara’s girls win today, and Drew Rogers from Herscher is an amazing runner. There’s always someone here to push our kids, and it doesn’t matter that there are smaller schools at this event. There’s just a ton of talent here in this county, and you saw that today.”