Oak Park and River Forest High School junior Irwin Loud could have competed with the varsity for the 2014 West Suburban Conference Silver Meet.
Instead, he captured the sophomore boys cross country title by nearly 38 seconds.
“I still think it was good that I ran the sophomore race. I could run my own race, I had a good strategy and I practiced that,” Loud said.
Now a returning all-stater, Loud enjoyed a more impressive victory at Saturday’s Silver Meet at Camera Park in Glendale Heights.
Loud, an all-state 11th at the 2014 Class 3A state meet, ran a course-record 14:03.8 for 2.88 miles to prevail over Hinsdale Central junior Blake Evertsen (14:12.0) and three other returning all-staters.
“There are a lot of really great guys in this conference,” Loud said. “I knew I had to go out pretty fast and try to take control. I’m just really glad that it all worked out.”
The Huskies were equally impressive. They finished third (61 points), one point ahead of two-time defending state champion Hinsdale Central and near state powers York (51) and Lyons Township (57).
Seniors Henry Harper (14:43.0), Kimathi Johnson (14:44.7) and Marty Pimentel (14:47.1) were 11th, 12th and 13th to earn top-16, all-conference honors, followed by Matt Politis (23rd, 15:06.5) Jack Monaghan (28th, 15:18.7) and Sean Lonergan (37th, 15:41.6).
Pimentel was .8 ahead of Hinsdale Central’s No. 3 finisher.
“Every little point mattered. We’ve taken sixth at this meet the past four years so to come in and take third is really good,” OPRF coach Chris Baldwin said. “Every year this conference puts three to four teams in the top five, six, eight in the state. It’s nice to face the top of the top.”
Pimentel and Johnson improved significantly from finishing 29th and 34th in last year’s Silver varsity race. Harper was 30th in the open race.
“Last year, I didn’t have a great season and over the summer I worked really hard to get where I am,” Pimentel said. “It’s exciting. I love our team because we’re all competitors.”
OPRF girls cross country
Junior Mahal Schroeder began running cross country at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School.
“I couldn’t even finish a race. My shoe was untied and I had to stop and take a breather,” Schroeder said. “That was back in eighth grade so it’s just kind of amazing to come all this way this far.”
This season, Schroeder often has been the Huskies’ top finisher.
On Saturday, she was 16th at the Silver Meet to earn the last individual all-conference award. Schroeder (17:52.5 for 2.88 miles) was 6.0 seconds ahead of 17th place.
“I was just only aiming for a good time. Because I heard the course was a little short, I thought, ‘Oh, this will be a good day,’ ” Schroeder said. “I hope to get around 18:00 for an actual three miles.”
Junior Hallie Voss (17:59.1) and senior Haley Thompson (18:04.8) were 18th and 19th, followed by Caroline Galo (23rd, 18:10.8), Ainsley Tran (34th, 18:51.0), Athena Lesiotis (36th, 19:14.1) and Theresa Wilkie (37th, 19:34.6).
The Huskies (110) finished fifth, one point ahead of sixth-place Downers Grove North.
“For us, it was a very good race. I think it gave the kids a lot of confidence going into our playoffs,” OPRF coach Tom Tarrant said.