Lemont’s cross country programs each to be represented at IHSA State Finals

(L-R): Kaylie Politza, Nick Kania, TJ Polen

Each of Lemont High School’s cross country teams will be represented in state finals competition for the third straight year. The girls’ team posted a runner-up finish in sectional competition on November 2 to lock down its sixth straight team state finals berth, while junior Nick Kania and freshman TJ Polen secured individual boys’ state finals bids. Lemont will compete at the 2019 IHSA Class 2A State Finals, which will be contested on Saturday, November 9, at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

The top five teams from each of the IHSA’s five Class 2A Sectionals advance to state finals competition, along with the top seven individuals at each sectional from schools that did not qualify for state finals team competition.

At the IHSA Thornridge Sectional, sophomore Kaylie Politza paced the girls’ team, placing third with a time of 18:53. Junior Kailey Wasyliw (17th; 20:20), senior Cassie Hamilton (19th; 20:27), sophomore Destiny Vargas (20th; 20:31) and senior Hannah Troy (24th; 20:56) rounded out the team’s top five.

IHSA Girls' Cross Country Website

Lemont also was the runner-up at the IHSA Bremen Regional, which was held at Midlothian Meadows on October 26. Politza was the regional titlist, breaking her own 3-mile school record by crossing the line in 17:27. Wasyliw (11th; 19:24), Vargas (12th; 19:25), Hamilton (13th: 19:59) and senior Marin Schiffman (14th; 20:04) all finished among the top 15.

Lemont will be making its 12th team state finals appearance in girls’ cross country. After making its initial appearance in 1991, it advanced to state finals competition five straight years from 2007-2011, and has reached the state finals each season since 2014. Its best team state finals finish was a fourth-place showing in 2014. Lemont has won seven regional crowns (1991, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) and three sectional titles (2008, 2014, 2016).

Politza set a school record (since broken) at the 2018 IHSA Class 2A State Finals by crossing the line in 17:41. She not only earned all-state accolades, but matched the program’s best state finals finish by placing 12th. Nikole Hoster ‘98 placed 12th on a 2-mile course at the 1996 IHSA Class AA State Finals. Politza, Hoster, Taylor Campos ‘16 (23rd, 2014 Class 2A) and Lisa Smiley ‘93 (25th, 1990 Class A) are the program’s all-state performers.

At the IHSA Thornridge Sectional, Polen placed 11th with a time of 16:52, while Kania was 25th with a time of 17:30. Lemont finished seventh in the team standings. Lemont advanced to sectional competition after placing fourth in the team standings at the IHSA Bremen Regional. Polen earned all-regional honors by placing seventh in a time of 16:19, while Kania was 14th in a time of 16:35.

IHSA Boys' Cross Country Website

This marks the first time in program history two boys’ cross country runners advanced to the state finals as individuals in the same year. Lemont qualified for the state finals as a team in both 2007 and 2008, and saw individuals reach the state finals in 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2018.

Andrew Adelmann ‘02 is Lemont’s top state finals finisher in boys’ cross country, having placed 37th at the 2001 IHSA Class AA State Finals; his time of 15:24 is the best state finals effort by a Lemont boys’ competitor.

Polen joins Tom Hoster ‘11 as the only freshmen in program history to participate in state finals competition. Polen is the first freshman in program history to qualify for the state finals as an individual.

Head coach Tim Plotke’s girls’ program secured its 13th South Suburban Conference-Blue Division title in 14 seasons, while the boys’ team finished as the SSC Blue runner-up. Politza was the SSC Blue individual champion this fall, while Polen paced the boys’ team with a fifth-place finish.

The IHSA will host both boys’ and girls’ state finals competition in three classes at Detweiller Park on November 9. The girls’ Class 2A race begins at 11 a.m., while the boys’ race starts at noon. The Class 2A awards ceremony is set for 1 p.m.

Boys’ and girls’ cross country are the second and third Lemont High School sports to be represented in IHSA State Finals competition this year. Sophomore Paulius Malcius placed fifth at the 2019 IHSA Class 2A Boys’ Golf State Finals.