Taft Cross Country, Guidone, Run Past Adversity



Despite the pandemic, Lucas Guidone is winning races for the Eagles.

Isabel Comacchio, Senior Editor - Taft Today

Cross country runners are used to competing against each other, and they’re used to competing against themselves. However, the global pandemic created many new challenges for Taft’s cross country team.

“Our guys did an incredible job of training on their own, said head coach James Bleicher via email. “For most of the summer they had to train on their own or in very small groups.”

Bleicher was impressed with the team’s commitment to prepare for the pandemic-shortened season. 

“A large number of our guys kept up with their training and pushed each other to stay motivated, even though it was very difficult. It showed when we finally got together as a team. I couldn’t ask for a harder-working, more motivated group,” said Bleicher. 

The pandemic brought a new set of challenges, policies and procedures to an already grueling sport. 

“Obviously social distancing and masks are required during practice, but the athletes have adjusted to that well. Competitions are different, and we can’t participate in many of the invitationals we used to, but we have been able to compete against many quality Chicago teams,” said Assistant Coach, Donald Desalvo via email. 

Senior Varsity runner, Lucas Guidone, refuses to let the pandemic hinder his final season. He’s already won 3 races and is one of the top-ranked runners in the state. 

“So far I have 3 wins. For all of the races, I went out with the top guys and pulled away with about 400 meters to go,” said Guidone.

Coach Bleicher, already impressed with Guidone’s performances, says the senior has developed into one of the team’s leaders. 

“He won Male Athlete of the Week on MileSplit Illinois, while being ranked as the #25 individual runners in the state. But more than that he has been a great leader and teammate. It’s an incredible blessing to have someone on the team like Lucas. I can’t ask for more than that.” 

With only a month left, the coaches share their goals for the rest of the season.

“The goal is always to improve in all aspects of life – students/family members/friends. As a team, we would have liked to push for our best ever finishes at City, Regionals, and Sectionals, while trying to send at least one runner to the State Championships,” said Bleicher.

“As coaches, we want our athletes to be as successful as possible, and get the recognition that they deserve for the incredible hard work and dedication they have poured into this sport. Some of our seniors are talented enough to deserve attention from college coaches, and we hope they get it,” said Desalvo 

Inching towards Sectionals, Guidone and the Cross Country team will be competing on October 3rd against Lane Tech High School.