DSC_0849A new tradition stepped off last week: the Saint Viator Grade School/Middle School Cross Country Invitational.

The premiere event drew nearly 250 youngsters from a dozen different feeder schools in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. They ran a course that stretched around the Saint Viator campus before returning inside the Boler Center for the awards ceremony.

“It was an unbelievable day to be a Lion and a member of the Saint Viator High School Community,” says Jason Kuffel, director of recruitment. “The outpouring of thanks from parents, grandparents, coaches, athletes and siblings was overwhelming.”

DSC_0931Participating schools included: Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Our Lady of the Wayside and St. James schools in Arlington Heights, St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, St. Eugene School in Chicago, St. Alphonsus School in Prospect Heights, St. Anne Catholic School in Barrington, St. Gilbert School in Grayslake, St. Hubert School in Hoffman Estates, St. Raymond School in Mount Prospect, St. Thomas of Villanova School in Palatine, and MacArthur Middle School in Prospect Heights.

Members of the Saint Viator cross country team took a lead role in the event. One member led each race, carrying the Saint Viator flag, while other students helped encourage runners around the course. Junior Kevin Goss donned the Lion costume, encouraging runners as the mascot.

In all, some 100 medals were awarded to the top 25 participants in each race, while a special award—the Saint Viator DSC_0899Traveling Cup—went to the varsity boys’ team that won their division as well as the varsity girls’ team.

As it turns out, St. Thomas of Villanova boys’ and girls’ varsity teams won both. Consequently, two of the Saint Viator Traveling Cups are now being prominently displayed at their parish.

“This inaugural event was a great opportunity for students to visit our campus and meet our student-athletes and coaches,” Mr. Kuffel says. “It also had a practical side. They now have an official time to work toward beating over the course of their new season.

“It also created some team camaraderie early in the year,” he adds, “and went a long way toward giving these kids a chance to envision themselves as high school cross country runners.”

Here are the final results for the varsity and junior varsity divisions:

Junior Varsity Boys

  1. Our Lady of the Wayside
  2. James
  3. Mary’s

Junior Varsity Girls

  1. James
  2. Raymond’s
  3. Our Lady of the Wayside

Varsity Boys

  1. Thomas of Villanova
  2. Our Lady of the Wayside
  3. Raymond’s

Varsity Girls

  1. Thomas of Villanova
  2. Raymond’s
  3. Eugene’s