MINOOKA — If this is not the greatest season in the history of the Minooka girls track and field program, it certainly merits a spot on its Mount Rushmore.
This weekend, the Indians are competing in six events at the state final meet, matching their largest group ever. They won the Southwest Prairie Conference meet, which is becoming old hat for them but is still quite an accomplishment. The list goes on. See my story on them that appeared in Thursday’s paper for more on what they’ve done.
Unfortunately for the Indians’ chances of getting big publicity, they share a school with a team that is almost certainly having the best season in its history. Minooka’s boys qualified 11 entrants in 10 events for state out of Thursday’s Joliet West Sectional. One Chicago newspaper ranks the Indians as its No. 2 team.
When I talked with Minooka girls head coach Kevin Gummerson early this week for the look-ahead-at-state story, I asked him if it is at all frustrating to have the boys getting so much of the attention.
“I tell you what, it’s amazing what they’re doing,” Gummerson said. “There’s no rivalry between the two teams. What they’ve accomplished and what it has brought to this sport in this school is unbelievable. You walk down the halls in this school and you see Minooka track shirts left and right.
“And they’re very supportive of us. They’re happy when we do well and vice versa. When we were competing at our conference meet, there was a group of the boys that made the trip to come cheer the girls on. If we didn’t have to compete (at the Plainfield North Sectional) the same night as their conference meet, we’d have loved to have come and done the same for them.”
Whereas the Minooka girls program has made more of a slow evolution over the past several years, the boys have had some striking success in the last few.
“In 2010, we qualified some (for state), but it was really in 2011 that we got this program going again,” boys coach Nick Lundin said after the Joliet West Sectional. “It’s a credit to this coaching staff. These assistant coaches are unbelievable.
“Just like you can have trouble getting kids to come out for track, you can have trouble getting coaches. This calls for some long meets and some long nights and weekends. And the kids deserve their share of the credit, too, of course. They’ve bought into it. I cannot say enough good things about my assistants and what they do. All I have to do is show up.”