Larry Dooley played it perfectly.
His ploy was to push, but not to shove.
His game plan was a flight plan.
Just get her there.
Just let her see the place.
“My dad really wanted me to go to the University of Alabama, his alma mater,” said Loyola Academy senior standout Margot Dooley. “So I decided to humor him.”
She hopped a plane to Tuscaloosa.
“And all that I had to do was step on campus,” Dooley said.
Smitten … instantly.
“Pretty cool place,” added the future Crimson Tide athlete.
On May 11, in the Class 3A sectional at Loyola Academy, Margot Dooley found herself in a familiar place: the 800 meters.
It was one of the heralded events at this meet. It was chock-full of big names. A virtual who’s who, if you will.
“That was scary,” said Dooley. “So much good competition. It was a real test for me.”
Dooley wound up winning the race with power and precision. After holding back and holding back, Dooley hit the final turn hard and exploded to the finish line.
“She followed her game plan to perfection,” said Rambles head coach ChrisJon Simon.
“It was a fun race to watch,” the LA coach added. “One of the best [sectional] fields that you will see. Possibly, a state preview.”
Dooley was clocked in 2:15.89.
And seven other competitors — New Trier’s Savannah Noethlich (2:16.49), Glenbrook South’s Lauren Hayes (2:16.50), Mather’s Rebecca Odusola (2:16.90), Lake Forest’s Emma Milburn (2:16.97), Evanston’s Enyaeva Michelin (2:17.18), Highland Park’s Stephanie Kriss (2:17.91) and Glenbrook South’s Emily Noone (2:19.86) — ended up running under the state cut and will be joining Dooley at the state meet in Charleston on May 19-20.
“I had been really looking forward to this race,” admitted Dooley. “But I actually thought that the freshman [Highland Park’s Kriss] would crush all of us.”
Kriss had created quite a buzz, when she blazed to a 2:12.83 in the Distance Night Meet in Palatine on April 22. Dooley was there. And despite running a PR (2:14.43), Dooley could do no better than fifth place.
Fierce competition brings out the best in Dooley. She trimmed a bunch of seconds off of her PR in last year’s sectional meet at Niles West and advanced to state with a third-place finish (2:18.90).
Things didn’t go as planned in Charleston, but Dooley did bounce back in the Midwest Distance Classic a couple of weeks later, taking sixth in 2:16.68.
Could it be that Dooley, a former soccer player, is just starting to hit her stride? She didn’t come out for track until her sophomore year.
It didn’t take Simon long to realize that his program had landed a gem.
“When you get a soccer player, you know you have an athlete,” the coach said.
“There’s running in the genes,” added Simon, referring to Margot’s mother, Mary, a marathon runner. “And when she starts competing against the SEC (Southeastern Conference) at Alabama, she’s only going to expand her talent.”
Notable: Loyola Academy scored 38 points to finish sixth in the sectional team standings. The Ramblers qualified two relays: 4×200 (2nd, 1:44.69) with Anne Santangelo, Erin Santangelo, Addison Bendery and Brooke Moran and 4×400 (5th, 4:04.24) with Bendery, Jacqueline Topping, Lainey McKinley and Margot Dooley.
Loyola Academy Boys Track
The host Ramblers scored just enough points (105) to edge Marmion Academy (103) for first place in the Chicago Catholic League Meet on May 13.
The individual highlights included championship efforts by senior Andrew Niewiarowski in the 800 meters (1:57.22) and senior Paolo Tiongson in the 3200 (9:27.57).
LA also claimed the 4×400 relay title (3:29.59) with Niewiarowski, junior Luke Phillips, freshman Alex Gaspar and sophomore Jack Loveland.
The 1600 meters also was a solid race for the Ramblers. Niewiarowski took second in 4:27.62, while Tiongson was third in 4:33.1. Marmion’s Michael Ronzone squeezed out the win in 4:27.60.
In the 800, Phillips placed second in 1:59.44 while teammate Aidan Sullivan was fifth (2:01.46).
In the 3200, junior Connor Hoag ended up fifth in 9:57.53.
Loyola had some success in the field events. Junior Declan Ritzenthaler cleared 14-6 to take second in the pole vault. Senior Ted Falkenhayn placed fourth in the high jump (5-10), while junior Diego Collado was fourth in the shot put (43-2 ½). Senior Kai Khasu added a sixth in the triple jump (40-9 ½).
Ritzenthaler also was one of the meet’s top hurlers. He took fourth in the 300s (42.08) and sixth in the 110s (16.49).