Tolosa proves he can run with cross country elite
Essay Tolosa has just scratched the surface as far as his running talent is concerned.
That should serve as a fair warning to the rest of the Central Suburban League South division.
The Evanston junior recorded an impressive 3rd place individual finish at Saturday’s CSL South championship cross country meet hosted by New Trier. He ran shoulder-to-shoulder with the top two finishers, Nick Falk of New Trier (14 minutes, 59.87 seconds) and Matt Coyle of Maine South (15:01.89), for almost the entire race. He was clocked in a personal best time of 15:09.87 over the 3-mile test.
Essay (pronounced e-saw) ran cross country as a freshman, skipped his sophomore season to concentrate on his schoolwork, and was denied a full track season when the coronavirus intervened.
But summer workouts for track have convinced long-time ETHS head track coach Don Michelin Sr. that Tolosa might eventually be capable of running a mile in the 4:10 range, a pace only elite runners approach. And head cross country coach Don Michelin Jr. thinks the sky is the limit for Tolosa, too.
“Those two guys who beat him (Falk and Coyle) are both in the top 10 in the state,” pointed out Michelin Jr. “Essa is a natural, but he’s been in and out as far as cross country is concerned. When he’s in, he’s right with the top guys. If he sticks with it, I think he can be something special.
“We’ve always told him how good he is and he ran a good race today. He just needs more practice at settling in a little bit in a race, instead of trying to break guys (challenge them early in the 3-mile race). He did a lot of unnecessary work trying to break them and they just sat on him. He lost a lot of energy trying to break them.
“Essay is a flat-out competitor whose cardio is excellent. But he doesn’t have the mileage behind him that the top kids do, and guys at this level aren’t going to break.”
“I wasn’t into cross country that much before this year, and I feel a little like a freshman even now,” Tolosa said. “The mile is still my favorite race. This summer was the first time I ran a timed 3-mile race and it’s a weird adjustment to make. The first mile sets the pace, but I’m finding it hard to keep up the pace in that second mile.
“Today over that first mile it was a little hard to breathe (in a crowded pack). Once the rest of the pack dropped away, I just tried to keep up with those other two guys.”
The Wildkits, as a team, settled for 4th place in the 6-team field with 98 points, beating out only Glenbrook North (127) and Niles West (149). New Trier (27), Maine South (50) and Glenbrook South (89) swept the top 3 spots.
Next best finishers for ETHS were junior Sonny Granzetto, 19th in 16:13.32; sophomore Declan Ahern, 21st in 16:26.37; senior Ellis Allen, 24th in 16:33.95; and junior Solomon Greene, 31st in 16:44.14.