DqxLgyRUwAApWc9The boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams left with a bang on Wednesday for the IHSA state finals. Literally, Saint Viator’s drum line led them through the hallways as teachers and students alike cheered on these state-bound runners.

After the excitement, the two teams and their coaches boarded buses bound for Detweiler Park in Peoria, where the state finals will take place on Saturday. Coach Wayne Edeleman leads both the girls’ and boys’ teams, with the help of assistant coaches Bill Stanczak, John Curtin and Trisha Stapleton.

While both teams have run at the state meet before, this year’s berths are special, their coaches say.

“The girls embraced one another, starting with June summer camp, and they are now reaping the rewards of morning runs and tempo runs, with a run at Detweiller Park on Saturday,” says Coach Stanczak.

The boys’ team lost five seniors off last year’s state team, and they feared they might not make it out of sectionals, Stanczak adds.

“Their regional and sectional championships came through hard work and determination,” Coach Stanczak adds, “and the energy of a freshman runner (Mike Schumacher) who split the lead running role with Patric Natindim.”

Dqid0DhXgAE4kPUEven though the boys’ team made it to state last year, this year’s team won its first sectional title in program history. In all, Saint Viator boys are making their seventh state appearance, all coming since 2011.

At last weekend’s sectional, the Lions were led by Mike Schumacher (10th, 16:44), Matt Goss (15th, 16:58.5), Patrick Natindim (16th, 16:59.5), Jason Doland (25th, 17:24.4), Patrick Schumacher (27th, 17:27.3), Nathan Kochera (56th, 18:08.6) and Connor Flynn (58th, 18:15.1). Also accompanying them to state are Dan Bottcher, and Richard Varvara.

The girls’ team is just as strong. They qualified for state for the fourth time in program history and second year in a row, while also winning regionals. Among recent years, they also have qualified for state in 2009 and 2012,

Leading the Lions and heading to state are Katie Castelli (4th, 18:44.5), Payton McDonnell (5th, 19:09.9), a four-time state qualifier, Joy Bergstrom (7th, 19:39.4), Maura Hogaboom (16th, 20:30.5), Mary Grace Hegberg (17th, 20:30.6), Claire Bottcher (18th, 20:32.6) and Mia Rafferty (33rd, 21:41.3). Alternates also making the trip are: Sophis Limberakis, Celia Carnel, Natalie Krause, and Holly Ferrara.