IHSA State Series Are Finally a Go


Beatrice Parr, Editor-in-Chief

For Latin’s summer athletes, the uncertainty is over: State series are officially happening this June. The IHSA board announced this decision on March 8 and posted sport-specific guidelines throughout the week. 

The IHSA noted that boys volleyball and boys and girls lacrosse cannot compete in a State Final under current Illinois Department of Public Health mitigations, but they approved a State Final in the hopes that guidelines will change in time for summer competition. In a statement, IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said, “The Board wants to move forward for the overall good of IHSA student-athletes, however, they ask we remain diligent in our staff efforts to have IDPH reconsider certain mitigation guidelines.”

The Board is confident that they will be able to host State Finals safely. Director Anderson said, “The IHSA has been a national leader in risk mitigation throughout our 100-year history and have adapted our scope to include safety against COVID-19.” He emphasized the need for clear expectations and guidelines, saying, “We are eager to inform our coaches of the mitigation guidance so they can better prepare for their upcoming seasons and we plan to get detailed information out to them soon.”

So what does this mean for Latin students? According to Latin Athletics Director Sonny Lim, it means a lot. He said that qualifying Latin teams will compete in these series, as “the school is committed to providing support for all of our athletes, individuals and teams that qualify for the state series.” Latin is pushing its traditional sports camps back until later in the summer to accommodate these later competitions, implying that the school is planning for teams to make it to the finals. Mr. Lim predicted, “We’re going to have a good number of individuals and teams that might be able to qualify for the state series.” He has particularly high hopes for a trophy in track. “I think [they] are really going to pull it off.”

Senior Olivia Syftestad, who has been a member of Latin’s track and field teams since freshman year, is equally optimistic about the team’s state prospects. She said, “We’ve been training since quarantine began,” and after State was canceled last year, this new sense of certainty is giving the team “some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.” Some of the girls have been competing in indoor meets since December, with junior Ava Parekh winning the mile and senior Marianne Mihas earning eighth in the 800m at a national meet last month. Olivia predicts that the team’s hard work will continue to pay off. She said, “The state series should be really exciting to watch and I think we do have a shot at the title.”

The boys track and field team is equally excited about their state prospects. Senior Peter Bernhardt, who also has competed on the team since freshman year, said, “After a strong cross country season where the boys peaked at the state meet, we should be looking to do the same again on the track this summer.” He is excited for athletes of all grade levels to experience a State Final. “It will be awesome for the younger athletes to experience all of the adrenaline and pressure the environment provides.” Peter, junior Ryan Hardiman, and sophomores Akili Parekh and Evan Jones have been competing in indoor meets, and Peter feels that “given their hard work and indoor performances, I expect them to be successful on the track.” Just the mentality of preparing for a state meet may bring these athletes to the next level. Peter said, “It will be awesome for the younger athletes to experience all of the adrenaline and pressure the environment provides” and he is “stoked to have a state series this spring.”

Latin’s state potential extends beyond track and field. Senior and tennis captain Sujan Garapati said the team “can definitely compete for a state title this year.” Players have been training since last March and are excited to finally have an end goal to work towards. “It was tough last year when the season got canceled, because we had high hopes for what we could do,” he said. “But this year we’ve revamped, we’ve reloaded, and we’re ready to make a run for state.” He’s particularly excited to see juniors Will Benford and Sam Cutinho, as well as his younger brothers Kiran and Akshay, play. As someone who has played in several tournaments this past year, he said the “[IHSA state championship] can be done safely, it can be done well.”

Latin’s baseball team is also looking forward to getting the chance to compete in a state series. Senior and baseball captain Matthew Shrake pointed out, “Nearly our entire team from two years ago is returning this spring.” He emphasized their strong team dynamic, saying, “We feel really good about our chances if we stay connected as a team and give our full effort in every practice and game.”

The boys lacrosse team is excited as well. Senior and captain Shahab Kousheshi believes the playoffs will be “huge” for the team. He said, “It’s great to have something to be building and working towards all season and we’ve got a great group of guys this year and should be able to make some noise in the playoffs.”

Latin’s softball, water polo, tennis, boys volleyball, and girls soccer teams will have summer State series as well. After a year of uncertainty regarding athletics, these teams finally have something concrete to work towards. And some may emerge with trophies.