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Druley: Tork guides St. Peter to state trophy

Geneva resident Brian Tork guides harriers and flies jets.

The longtime cross country coach at St. Peter School doubles as a dual qualification 757 and 767 pilot for United Airlines, and he routinely packs his running gear for layovers.

Whether he flies to a domestic hub city or a prominent European spot, Tork has his share of spots scouted.

“Different places bring different routes, depending on where I’m staying,” Tork said. “It kind of takes the monotony out of it, too, getting out and running in different places.”

Tork actually traveled by car for one of his more memorable recent trips. Racing downstate at Maxwell Park in Normal on Oct. 13, the St. Peter girls placed third in the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 1A state meet, claiming the school’s first state trophy.

While Caroline Zimmer (19th) and Elizabeth Allon (22nd) earned all-state distinction in the 2-mile race, the Rockets’ secondary pack of MaryGrace Phelan, Delaney Shanahan and Rachel Tork also was instrumental in the finish.

The trio finished within one second and three places of one another, zooming into the top 55 after opening the race in the top 80 following the course’s congested, bottleneck start. In the final sprint, Phelan and Shanahan passed a runner from Bourbonnais Maternity BVM, which St. Peter edged by two points for third place.

“Everybody pulled their weight. Everybody did what they had to do,” Brian Tork said. “Even in the duress of being way further back than where they had to be, they didn’t panic and pulled it out.”

For the boys, Charlie Zimmer placed second overall in 10:56, one second shy of tying Marmion freshman John Young’s school record. Zimmer waited through a three-hour storm delay before the race.

His coach knows what that’s about. After flying for the U.S. Navy for nine years, Tork has spent the past 151⁄2 years with United.

Dialed in on Detweiller: St. Charles East junior Max Rowland turned in the fastest time among Chronicle-area athletes at last weekend’s 3A Wheaton North boys cross country regional, running 15:36 to place third overall.

The race still was a few seconds shy of Rowland’s personal record, which surprised him given the scouting report on the St. James Farm course.

“There’s nowhere near as many hills or steepness of hills, so our coach [Chris Bosworth] told us it might be faster,” Rowland said. “I think with the mud and all and some recent construction, it ended up being a little slower.”

East will compete at its home course, LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, for Saturday’s sectional in one of the last races on the present layout. Much of the area’s current cross country course will be left to grow back to prairie grass following the season.

The Saints finished sixth at regionals to advance as a team entry to sectionals. The top five sectional teams qualify for the Nov. 3 state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. East is seeking its first team berth downstate in 10 seasons.

Bosworth said the Saints “are making great progress” and will graduate just two of their top 12 runners after the season.

Bass tournament on tap: Marmion coach Joe Large has organized a fall high school bass fishing tournament at Shabbona Lake set for 7 a.m. to noon Sunday.

Boat check begins at 6:15 a.m., with the awards ceremony to start at 12:30 p.m. Trophies will be awarded to the top three teams as well as to the individual angler who catches the biggest pass. Tackle courtesy of Plano Tackle also will be raffled after the ceremony.

• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or

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