WASHINGTON PARK — The Sears Tower still exists in Chicago.
Well, sort of.
For the first time, Saint Ignatius and Jones College Prep's boys cross-country squads battled for "The Sears Tower" trophy, a 3-foot-tall, 20-pound prize. In the end, Ignatius beat Jones 19-36 — in cross-country, the team with the lower score prevails — on Thursday at Washington Park to claim the Tower.
The trophy — a homage to the 1,451-foot-high building currently known as the Willis Tower — was built over the last three Saturdays by Saint Ignatius assistant coach Nate McPherson and his brother, Aaron. McPherson wanted to make the dual meet a bit more special than most considering Saint Ignatius and Jones are two of the city's top cross-country outfits.
"Although it started out as a small idea, it kept growing as we got more input from the boys on the team and others in the community," McPherson said.
Justin Breen says they hope the tradition remains for years to come:
Dual meets between Chicago Public League teams like Jones and Chicago Catholic League squads like Saint Ignatius are rare, so McPherson is hoping the Sears Tower tradition can become an annual affair.
"We are hoping to make this a quality tradition for both the Saint Ignatius and Jones College Prep teams," he said.
Saint Ignatius head coach Ed Ernst said the teams routinely see each other during practices in Grant Park, so it was nice to face off in competition.
"We both use the same bridge when our boys run out to the lakefront trail. We wave and say hello as we pass each other coming and going," Ernst said. "We each know how hard the other team works. ... It just seems natural that we should get together and race one team against the other."
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