CALUMET CITY | After taking a year off from cross country, T.F. North's Monica Munoz is glad she came back out.
Munoz was fifth at last week's Class 2A De La Salle Regional and will compete in today's Chicago University Sectional at Washington Park in Chicago. She hopes for a trip to the Class 2A state finals, which are Nov. 9 at Peoria's Detweiller Park. She said the year off has affected her time. She wanted concentrate on soccer.
"I think if I would have run last year, my times would be in the upper 18s or lower 19s (minutes)," Munoz said. "Once I came back out, ran during the summer, it did take a while for my times to come down and to get used to running."
She said cross country will keep in great shape for soccer, where she is prolific scorer for Thornton Fractional's co-op team.
"Both. Soccer keeps you in shape, so that helps my running," Munoz said. "Cross country helps my endurance, which you need for soccer.
"I notice I don't get tired as much as I used to. You build up your strength and endurance."
She said her best time is 20:45 and she ran 21:20 at the De La Salle Regional, run on the Chicago lakefront. She said Washington Park is a little more runner-friendly.
"There were a lot of hills and it slowed," Munoz said. "Washington (Park), is a flatter, so it should be better for runners. That doesn't guarantee anything, but I should get a better time."
Meteors coach Kalente Jackson said Munoz has bettered her times by putting in the extra time.
"Monica is a very hard working individual," Jackson said. "We are looking for her to have a great race this weekend and advance to the state meet."
With her having to break from her own pack of teammates, Munoz said she is careful not to get boxed in by other runners.
"I don't like running in a pack, so I try to pick a runner ahead of me and try and catch them," Munoz said. "If someone is behind me, I try to make it a point to stay in front of them."