Stagg's Luke Barham finished second in the Tolefree/Farley XC Invitational on Sept. 23. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Stagg's Luke Barham finished second in the Tolefree/Farley XC Invitational on Sept. 23. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Cross Country | Stagg’s Barham having an adventure in September

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Stagg senior runner Luke Barham has experienced a unique September.

Barham finished third in the Richard Dust meet at North Creek Meadow in Chicago Heights on Sept. 2 with a time of 15:52.81. A week later, he placed 26th place but set a personal-best time of 15:19.30 in the Class 3A division in the First to the Finish meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria, the site of the IHSA state meet.

But he suffered a freak leg injury after the latter race, and that changed things up regarding his practice schedule.

On Sept. 16, he went back to Detweiller with fresh stitches in his leg and finished 59th in the Richard Spring Invitational with a time of 15:23.6.

That set things up for his latest race on Sept. 23. He finished second in an impressive field with a 16:02.50 in the 49th running of the Tolefree/Farley meet at Midlothian Meadows and hosted by Tinley Park.

It’s been quite an adventure for Barham since hitting that personal best.

“I laid down and the spike of my left shoe hit my right knee,” he said of the post-race injury. “So, I had to sit out for five days. I came back and, after one day of training, I ran at Detweiller again.

After a full week of training, he hit a 16:01, which he noted was “not that great of a time” but was good eniugh for second place behind Bradley’s Jeremiah Lanum (15:48.70).

“The Bradley kid, the two East kids, the Bolingbrook kid and me were packed together and we pretty much stayed together for the first 1.7 miles,” Barham said. “We kept exchanging leads. About 2 miles in, Jeremiah took the lead, and no one could catch him.”

Barham entered high school with a strong resume in wrestling. His father Bryan coached the sport at Shepard.

But Luke started enjoying success with running and gave up wrestling after his sophomore season. He qualified for state in track last year.

“Freshman year, they were about even,” he said of his interest in wrestling and running. “I was leaning slightly toward wrestling. Then sophomore year, I was leaning toward cross. I knew I had potential in track and I knew I needed a winter base for running. It’s hard to run fast in the spring without a winter base. That’s what ultimate made me make the decision.”

His favorite part of running?

“When you have a great race, there is no better feeling,” he said.

And if he has a bad race?

“Then you just go back to the drawing board and put it all back into the workouts,” he said. “You put all of that energy you have and that anger into workouts.”

Barham has college interest in running from Lewis, Bradley, Illinois State University, Central Michigan and Valparaiso.

KIRHA MOES scaled

Chicago Christian’s Kirha Moes finished second in the Tolefree/Farley girls race on Sept. 23 in Midlothian. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Top finishes at the Tolefree/Farley

In the boys championship division, Sandburg was led by sophomore Mateo Ramiro-Garcia’s sixth-place finish (16:16.0) and took second in the meet with 76 points. Lincoln-Way East won with 38 points and Stagg was third in the 12-team division with 87.

Sandburg freshman Brayden Gaffud finished seventh, Marist junior Matthew McKee took ninth and Stagg sophomore Jack Krusinski 10th.

In the girls championship division, Chicago Christian sophomore Kirha Moes finished second in 19:37.00.

Marist took second out of 17 schools with 82 points well behind Lincoln-Way East, which won with 34 points. Mother McAuley was third with 85 points, Chicago Christian fourth with 88 and Stagg fifth with 110.

Marist sophomore Abby McClorey took fifth, Mother McAuley sophomore Emily Mangin seventh, Stagg senior Amanda Pocica ninth and Marist senior Emma Collias 10th.

In the boys Olympic Division, Evergreen Park senior Rocco Cipolla took third with a 16:04.10 while Chicago Christian’s Noah Luke was seventh.

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