OLYMPIA FIELDS | Consider this the coming out party for the Thornwood boys cross country team.
The Thunderbirds had a strong day at the Jimmy Daniels Invitational at Rich Central Saturday to take home second in the team competition.
Marist finished in first with 71 points, while Thornwood's 77 was good for second. Reggie Brown took 10th for the Thunderbirds with a time of 16 minutes, 51 seconds. Teammate Kenneth Allen finished in 11th, just two seconds behind Brown.
The Thunderbirds have been running as a pack recently and it seems to be helping their fortunes.
"Our motto is 'One team, one pack,'" Brown said. "That's what we try to do -- finish as a pack. I think our pack finished the closest today as ever.
"Our bodies are getting better and our times are getting faster and stronger."
Thornwood's Johnell Seanior and Wole Daramola also finished in the top 20. Khalil Lightbourne was 21st to give the Thunderbirds five runners in the top 21.
"There's a lot of work and improvements that we can do," Allen said. "We're coming out and trying different stuff and seeing what works. No one's expecting Thornwood so we're just trying to come out and set it up for the people who will be coming next year.
"Eventually we may get known for cross country as well as other sports."
First-year coach Brian Evans was happy with the team's finish and hopes to see improvement in the coming weeks.
"We're very excited," Evans said. "We're changing things up a bit and the kids are buying into it a hundred percent on what I'm asking them to do on a daily basis.
"They're working harder than ever every day. We're very excited about the next few weeks. We think the program is headed in the right direction."
Bloom Township's Jacob Hernandez finished 13th (16:54), but was disappointed with his showing.
"I only got about four hours of sleep last night," Hernandez said. "I just had trouble sleeping the whole night. I was running the race really drained out. I know today was one of my worst performances."
T.F. South's Dylan Angell finished 20th (17:09). The Rebels were eighth in the boys race while Thornton placed ninth.
"We've just been trying to push hard for conference and regionals," Angell said. "We're trying our hardest just to keep up our times."
In the girls race, Marist's Maggie O'Loughlin took first with a time of 18:14. Thornton freshman Karina Perez was 20th and teammate Martiza Najera placed 23rd.
Marist girls took first in the team competition, Thornton seventh.