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Fenwick's Olivia Ryan and Briana Daley run together at state for the final time

11/12/2013, 9:15pm CST
By Ken Ryan | For Sun-Times Media | @kenryan15

The Friars' teammates competed at Detweiller Park each of the past three years.

Fenwick’s Olivia Ryan (1816) and Lyons’ Lexy Rudofski (1808) lead a pack

Fenwick’s Olivia Ryan (1816) and Lyons’ Lexy Rudofski (1808) lead a pack

Fenwick junior Olivia Ryan of Western Springs suffered an injury at the worst possible time.

Two days before Saturday’s Class 3A state cross country meet, she sprained an ankle.

“I think mentally it was tough knowing I had sprained it so close to the state meet,” Ryan said. “It didn’t bother me too much during the race. It was more at the beginning and turning left was when it would ache. I taped it up and everything, but mentally it was tough.”

The injury didn’t prevent her from registering her third consecutive all-state performance, however. Ryan placed 22nd with a time of 17 minutes, 29 seconds at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

“I’m happy I got all-state and got to experience going down for the third time,” said Ryan, who also struggled with allergies in the weeks leading up to state.

The state meet is also special because it’s been an annual family affair for the Ryans. Her senior brother James helped Lyons place fourth in his third straight trip to state. He was the Lions’ third finisher, placing 50th in 15:17.

“We’re a big running family,” James Ryan said. “I run with (Olivia) five days a week during the summer. She’s awesome. It’s always nice to have family at state.”

The siblings both achieved All-American honors during the summer.

Olivia Ryan placed seventh (4:50) in the 1,500-meter run last July to earn All-American honors at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C.

“We help push each other,” Olivia Ryan said. “Knowing he’s out there running every day like me is motivation.”

Their cousin Claire Costelloe led Neuqua Valley to 10th place. She was the team’s top finisher, taking 29th in 17:46.

“It’s exciting for all three of us to be down there together,” Olivia Ryan said. “We had a lot of family, which is always nice.”

Olivia Ryan placed fifth last season for the Fenwick girls’ best all-time finish and was 16th at the Class 2A meet her freshman season when the Friars took fifth.

Her senior teammate Briana Daley finished 73rd (18:18) in her third trip to Peoria.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Ryan, who will be looking for a top-five finish as a senior. “All three years we made it downstate together. Next year will be very different not having her at state with me. I know she was happy with her place and time overall.”

Fenwick coach Mickey Collins is excited to have Ryan back another year and enjoyed coaching Daley the past four years.

“It was cool to see the transformation of Briana as this tiny freshman to this young, mature adult,” Collins said. “Seeing her prepare for college and develop over the years was fun. We both came to Fenwick at the same time. I graduated from Fenwick and then came back to coach. It’s nostalgic to see all my seniors leave.”

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