Girls cross country finds success with top 5 finish at sectionals

The girls’ season concluded with a finish that would have qualified them for state


New Trier Athletics Twitter

Senior Emma Braband and Sophomore Hannah Caudill at regionals on Oct 24.

The girls cross country season concluded following sectionals at Hoffman Estates, a three mile race, on Oct. 31. The team placed fifth, and although the team as a whole qualified for sectionals, only the top seven runners competed.

Sophomore Clare Finnigan explained, “The top 5 runners on your team are kept track of and the winner of the meet has the least amount of points. You add the points by which place you get overall, for example if you get placed seventh, your team gets seven points.”

Prior to sectionals, the team placed third at regionals, and won the CSL South Conference Championship. 

Finishing fifth in sectionals was big for the team. 

“It was especially great because it showed us that in a normal year (with no COVID-19) we would’ve qualified for state as the top five teams from each sectional make it to state,” said senior Emma Braband.

 This season was particularly successful for senior Grace Shean. While she didn’t run at sectionals, she had to face the climb of recovering from double hip surgery.

 “I had a great support system and had fantastic physical therapists,” she said. “My biggest accomplishment was at the GBN meet. I led my pack to personal records through my surging. Surging is when you speed up for 10 seconds then go back to your pace.”

 This triumphant season may have been different from years prior, and there may have been fewer races, but the team still found ways to make it fun.

“The highlight of my season was all of the themed days we did as a team or the bus rides we had. Throughout the season we picked multiple days a week to wear bright colors or costumes or dress as twins or something which was a super fun way to connect even while being socially distanced. I also loved the bus rides we had because that made it feel like a normal season as much as it could,” said Braband.

Head coach John Burnside said he saw improvements throughout the season.

“Throughout the season we developed a true team dynamic of support and encouragement. There’s also a tremendous improvement in athletic ability, risk-taking, and competitive cooperation,” he said.

Finnigan, who had the best sectional time from New Trier, had a unique mindset heading into each race.

“Since the races were so inconsistent because of COVID-19 and we didn’t know when we would race next, my biggest competitor was myself, I was always trying to become better and beat my last personal record,” she said.

Finnigan’s highlight of the season was being able to compete during the pandemic and  all the friendships and connections she made with her team.

“Everything is so uncertain due to COVID-19 and I felt really special and lucky to have the season I got,” said Finnigan.