Three Boys, Three Years, One Goal
Last updated 10/22/2023 at 3:48pm
In early August 2021 Jane Addams coaches Adam Thas and Mark Setchell were beginning their 18th season as cross country coaches. "We had no idea what to expect, Covid killed any momentum we had. We couldn't really recruit, we sent out some letters but had no idea how many kids would come out for the team." Said Thas about the beginning of the 2021 season.
On that first day in August, three 6th grade boys would come to practice and change the trajectory for Jane Addams over the next three seasons. Having led the Mustangs to a State berth in 2021, and 2022, now in 8th grade, Jewan Garner, Yorachukwu Ifeajekwu and Brayan Segundo had their sights on one goal; become the first runners in Valley View history to run at the State meet all three years of their middle school career. "We were on the ride back from State in 2022 and I mentioned to the three of them that no one in the district had ever ran at State three years in a row. They all kind of looked at each other and that's where the goal came from." Said Thas.
In cross country a runner can qualify for the State Championship by either being on one of the top 3 teams in a Sectional or as an individual qualifier by being one of the top 7 individuals. "Getting three individuals down is tough because you're running against yourself. We knew if we were going to get them all down, we would likely have to do it as a team." Explains Thas. Like many plans though, they don't always go as they should. After a few injuries and summer setbacks the trio was back together in August and ready to make a push to the State meet. After strong showings at the Troy Invitational midway through the season, and winning the District Championship, the Mustangs needed to overcome strong teams from Lockport, Willowbrook, and Aurora to grab one of the three State qualifying slots. With the help of newcomer Amari Brown and 7th grader Alex Manas rounding out the top 5, the boys found themselves finishing 2nd overall and qualifying for the State Championship. "They were ecstatic. All of them did their job and crushed it." Expressed Setchell.
At the State meet the boys were accompanied by 7th grader Eadon Reed, 6th grader Angelo Jucha and alternates Chris Membrila, Aiden Zavala and Ryan Boomker as well as Garner's twin sister Jett who qualified as an individual for the girls. Jane Addams ended the season finishing 16th as a team with Jewan individually finishing 14th and receiving All-State honors. When asked about the end of the season, Thas expressed excitement as well as sadness seeing them go. "That's coaching. You can't keep them here forever as much as you'd like to. They're amazing young men and we were lucky to have coached them. They're going to go down as some of the best Bolingbrook and Valley View ever had to offer, and it was great to see them do it together."