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Cross Country - Boys

IHSA State Finalist 1982 State Runner-up, 2014 14th Place

IHSA Regional Champions 1982, 1984, 1991, 1994, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014

Chicago Catholic League Champions 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1980, 1981, 1994, 1998, 2010, 2012

Introduction

Saint Ignatius has a long tradition of great cross country running. In recent years the best Ignatius runners have been among the best runners in Illinois, moving on to success as college runners. Each year our immediate goals are three: to be the top team in the city of Chicago, to win the Chicago Catholic League, and to qualify for the IHSA state meet. A successful cross country team requires a group of boys who dedicate themselves to running throughout the year—including and especially during the summer vacation months. If the goals of each runner are to perform to one’s potential and to be a contributing member of the team, distance running is not a sport that the runner can do part-time.

The payoff is bigger than individual and team success as runners. Colleges know the work and dedication required to be a successful distance runners. Former Ignatius runners currently attend Williams, University of Illinois, Michigan, and Yale, to name a few schools. Each year our Ignatius runners are among the top students in the school—while maintaining other interests and activities, as well.

Cross country runners make some sacrifices—giving up their Saturdays for the months of September and October, among other things. But for those who put in the effort, the reward can be special. Returning members of the team know that there are expectations in terms of summer training. New members of the team, including freshmen, should begin preparations before the season begins. Guidelines for both new and returning runners are posted as links on this web page.

Coaching Staff

  • Ed Ernst — Varsity Head Coach
  • Nathan McPherson — Varsity Assistant Coach
  • Steve Bugarin — Varsity Assistant Coach

Practice

We begin practice before school starts, on the second Wednesday in August. But our best returning runners will prepare for that practice by running during the summer

When school begins, we practice every day after school, from 3:15 to 5:15. We try to be efficient with our time; compared to many sports at Ignatius, this is a short practice time. Boys are expected to attend practice every day that they are in school. If they are in school but not feeling well, they should report to practice before going home. Similarly, if a runner has an injury, he should report to the coach after school to make a plan for recovery and alternative training where appropriate.

The key to success in this sport is consistent training that allows the runner to increase mileage and intensity over the course of the season. Missed practices interrupt that. Whenever possible families should schedule other obligations—medical or personal--so that our athletes don’t miss practice.

Saturday Morning Races

Many of our Saturday races are located in the distant suburbs. Unfortunately this means an early morning bus here at Ignatius. We post instructions and directions on a hand-out before each race. Please be on time. Team members who can drive are allowed to meet us at our races and they can drive themselves home. Runners who travel on the bus from school can leave the meet with a parent to go home.

All our runners are expected to stay at the meet with the team until the last runner has run, the last awards are given out, and the team has had time for some last words from the coaches. Sometimes that can make for a long day, but that's what it means to be on a team.

For a typical Saturday race, our boys should be up at 6:00. That means they should be in bed at a reasonable hour; save the fun for Saturday night. They should also eat something like pasta for Friday night dinner. In the morning they should eat a small breakfast-bagel, breakfast bar, Power Bar, at least. Orange juice is probably not a good idea. Water and sports drink is better. They should bring a sports drink and a snack-even a lunch-for after the race. It is important to re-supply the body after a race exertion.

Shoes

Runners should expect to buy one new pair of training shoes during the x-country season. It just seems logical to do that at the beginning of the season. For a first pair of shoes, it is generally a good idea to visit a specialty store-Fleet Feet on North Ave., Running Away on Damen, Dick Pond in Lisle and Barrington, Universal Sole, New Balance, Murphy's Fit in Evanston, Run Chicago in Forest Park. Sales people there can help pick out an appropriate pair of shoes. Then runners can buy the same shoe online or at Sports Authority. At many of the specialty stores they will give a discount if runners mention that they are running on a high school team. Shoes in the $60-$100 range are probably most appropriate.

Many runners also buy racing spikes. There are special racing spikes designed for x-country running. Runners can find spikes on sale for as little at $20, or they can buy the newest models for as much as $100.

Students who attend Saint Ignatius on financial aid can write a letter to the financial aid office requesting assistance with the purchase of a pair of shoes and spikes. They can then work with the coach to purchase their shoes.

Sometimes our runners like their new shoes so much that they wear them during the day. They shouldn't. If they insist on wearing gym shoes, they should not wear their cross-country training shoes; those should be just for running-in part so that they last longer. Our boys don't like to hear it sometimes, but during the day they should probably wear old-fashioned school dress shoes. They provide the most support and protection for feet and ankles that take a pounding during practice.

Clothes

In August and September, the boys run in shorts and t-shirts. But October requires sweatshirts and pants. For cross-country runners who will also run track, investing in a nice set of running attire—waterproof and warm pants and jacket—is worth the investment. They will live in these clothes from October to April. Running clothes are also a good idea for Christmas presents!

Injuries

Cross country runners miss more practice and competition time due to injury than any other sports athletes. But this isn't really because it is a dangerous sport. The main injury is going to be to your legs,and if you have a leg injury, you are going to miss time.

We try to build our runners up slowly in terms of their mileage and work. But cross-country is a short season-only two and a half months long. We have to push to get runners ready for competition.

For future reference, the best way to avoid injury during cross-country season is to run in the summer BEFORE the actual cross country practice begins.

When runners are injured, we recommend ibuprofen and ice in the evening after practice for chronic problems-shin splints, sore muscles, sore knees and ankles. If the trainer or doctor recommends taking time off from practice, we try to find alternative activities-pool running if a runner has access, weight training or exercise machines here in the school. We try to keep runners training even when they are injured.

Eating & Drinking

Runners should eat three or more meals a day-including breakfast. They should be careful to hydrate during the day-drinking water and sports drinks where possible. Even in severe heat, the running we do is not so strenuous that it should cause heat or dehydration problems for our runners. Dehydration and heat problems really result from what happens during the day before and after running.