ResAt the beginning of this season, you may have noticed that there was originally not a meet this past Saturday. However, once we discovered that one of our meets, the North Side/South Side Challenge, would be moved to the same date as the Twilight Invitational at Naperville North, we needed to add a meet to comply with the six meet minimum from the IHSA. Luckily for us, Aurora Central Catholic allowed us to join their meet and therefore insure that we would be eligible for team honors at the end of the season.
For this meet, the coaching staff decided to enter a Varsity team that was comprised of some of our top runners, but also some of our athletes that showed great improvement or had a competitive race at the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational.
When the gun went off, our team charged to the front of the pack, knowing that the path would narrow after only about 200 meters. By the time that we saw the team again as they exited the forest just after the mile, our top pack had a commanding presence at the front of the race. The race would then disappear from view as the runners circled the lake toward the finish.
When the leaders emerged, we saw Patrick Wolak in second place kicking with everything that he had. He overtook the leader in the last 50 meters to win the individual title in a time of 14:54.5. Patrick was followed by Aidan Livingston (15:00.4) and Austin Kinne (15:03.6), placing 4th and 5th respectively. When our next two runners, Caleb Ferguson (15:12.3) and Josh Mollway (15:16.9), finished 13th and 16th, it was clear to everyone that Neuqua Valley had dominated the meet and outscored second place 39-151. Results
Our next five runners all finished in the top half of the race with Matt Milostan (15:19.2) taking 18th place, Wylie Anderson (15:35.2) taking 24th, Peter O’Neil (15:45.5) taking 29th, Josh Patel (15:48.7) taking 32nd and Jeremy Hayhurst (16:19.2) taking 65th. Amazingly, if you scored these runners as our team, they would have taken 4th place out of 17 teams!
As the raced ended, the conversations from the crowd were interesting. People were talking about how we placed in Peoria and how impressive the team was. It came as quite a shock to many when they learned that this was not all of our top runners. The beauty of this team is that when we put a team on the line, we know that they will all compete to the best of their ability. On that note, special mention needs to go to Senior Peter O’Neil, the fan favorite, Junior Josh Patel and Junior Jeremy Hayhurst, who were challenged to compete at the top Varsity level and answered in respectable fashion.
After an extremely successful race in Peoria this past Saturday, it was a quick turnaround for the freshmen and sophomores to lace up their spikes once again at the York Frosh / Soph Invitational. While two grueling races in less than 72 hours can assuredly be taxing, our young men, the future of the Neuqua Valley running program, stepped up and delivered two course records, two team trophies, and myriad personal best times on this 2.1 mile course.
The freshmen kicked off racing at the brand new course for this invitational at Berens Park in Elmhurst. Zach Kinne (1st, 10:46.4) took over the race immediately and never looked back. He finished 28 seconds in front of the second place runner. Chris Keeley (4th, 11:23.2) led the supporting crew behind Zach and looked phenomenal in doing so. All the miles he has put in these past few months are helping him to become one of our best freshmen ever. Nick Drechsler (23rd, 12:01.9) and Michael Madiol (24th, 12:03.0) were our next finishers as they strived to keep in front of perennial contenders, York and Naperville North. Rounding out the team scoring, Michael O'Connor (29th, 12:15.2), Matthew Jett (32nd, 12:26.4), and Jack Orengo (43rd, 12:54.8) gave their all to see us upended by first place Naperville North, yet still defeat York for second place.
The sophomore crew was the next to toe the line for racing. Danny Winek (1st, 10:32.2) and Ryan Kennedy (5th, 10:48.9) set the pace immediately, just as they had done together on Saturday in Peoria. Danny pulled away from the pack after the first mile marker, and Ryan battled York and Metea runners for the next mile. Tyler Bombacino (9th, 11:11.7) and Quinton Quagliano (10th, 11:12.5) rounded out the top ten runners. While they had to adjust to a faster start in a shorter race, the second half of the race saw them picking off several runners; Quinton specifically caught three runners in his final 200 meters. Alex Johnson (15th, 11:20.0), Evan McVittie (39th, 11:57.8), and Keanan Ginell (44th, 12:12.6) all aided in what we originally thought was a first place finish. However, we tied with York at 40 points, and in the event of a tie, the win goes to the higher-placing sixth man. Thus, York took the top prize, but our boys still raced with tremendous pride.
The Open Race was an interesting one. When runners passed by us at the first mile mark, Coach Rossi and I commented about their size and older-looking features. After finally seeing the results on Wednesday, we discovered that several juniors and seniors were allowed to race in this Frosh / Soph invitational for some reason. Nevertheless, there were many bright spots in this race. Danny Speckels (11th, 12:08.9) was our top finisher, and looked outstanding. DJ Sauer (12th, 12:14.1) was right behind him. Michael Dy (21st, 12:20.3), Matthew Lindell (26th, 12:32.9), and Austin Nguyen (30th, 12:36.3) finished in the top echelon of this 200-runner race. Spencer Teske (50th, 13:04.0) has made some amazing strides thus far this season. Vikram Sunderrajan (112th, 14:25.1) keeps improving with every race he runs. Rahul Nair (132nd, 15:02.8) and Andrew Schloderback (135th, 15:06.3) came in charging at the end. And Trevor Lambert (164th, 16:00.5) raced much more aggressively than we had seen before today.
If Monday's race was any indication, Neuqua Valley's future is certainly bright. Many thanks to York High School for hosting this outstanding event.
Full results can be found at this link. Sophomore Video Highlights. Freshman Video Highlights.
As we approached Peoria on Friday afternoon, it was raining cats and dogs. Coach Janota and I started to reminisce about 2008, and the mud bath we ran in that day. We feared we would see the same conditions for this meet. However, Detweiller's sandy soils came through, with most of the rain soaking into the ground before the races began on Saturday. We also had the fortune of temperatures in the high 60's, almost ideal conditions to run fast.
After the women were done competing, it was the varsity race that was first to run. We were allowed to run ten guys, something that is always in our favor due to our depth. Because the field was so large, and we had an inside box, we knew we had to get out in a good position. After the first 800m, we were in great position. Connor was with the front runners and our pack trailed Jake by about 3 seconds. We got out a little faster at the mile than we are accustomed to, but we were prepared to feel a little more uncomfortable due to the faster pace. Connor hit the mile in 4:40, Jake in 4:51, and the pack in 4:53. Sandburg's guys were out in about 4:45.
As the guys approached the two mile, it was obvious we would have to run a great last mile to beat Sandburg. Connor was still with the front pack in 9:36 and Jake had run the 2nd mile a little too aggressive, hitting it in 9:53. Our pack came through in 10:01, with the anticipation we would run the last mile in under 5:00.
Our last mile was solid, but we failed to gain enough on the talented and determined Sandburg team. However, we ran well. Connor Horn tied Footlocker All-American Danny Pawola and two time All-State runner, Aaron Beattie, on our all-time Detweiller list with a 14:31.4 clocking to finish 5th overall. Jake McEneaney managed to squeak under 15:00, and our pack followed closely behind. One member of that pack was freshman Zach Kinne, who ran 15:04.8 to rank as our best freshman performance ever on this course. Varsity and FS Results. Open Results. Milesplit Recap. Coach Stalking. Connor Horn Interview. Varsity Boys. Race Video Dyestat Recap. Splits
Our entire top ten ran personal bests and we know we will get better. Juniors Jackson Jett and Matt Milostan, along with seniors Dominic Dina, Caleb Ferguson, Aidan Livingston, Patrick Wolak, and Austin Kinne all joined McEneaney to run sub 15:20. To have this many guys under 15:20 at this point in the season has never been done before in our history.
After the great times in the varsity race, the anticipation was definitely there to see what our Freshman/Sophomore team would do. They did not disappoint, running the fastest team time in our history for this level. Ryan Kennedy and Danny Winek led the entire race until out-kicked by Sean MacGregor of York at the very end. Fellow sophomores Quinton Quagliano, Tyler Bombacino, and Alex Johnson, along with precocious freshman, Chris Keeley, all ran 16:06 or faster to win the team championship.
The last race of the day proved to be a dual with Sandburg's JV. Junior Josh Mollway pulled away to win in 15:33.5, giving us seven non-seniors under that mark for the day. Peter O'Neil continued to amaze us with a 16:07, 4th place finish. Last year at this time, Peter was running in the 18's and battled a virus that put him in the hospital in early November. Junior Jeremy Hayhurst continued to have dramatic improvements over last year, running 16:14. He ran 18:40.0 last year. Other incredible improvements over last year were DJ Sauer (-2:06) and Dakota Getty (-2:35).
One of the best poems for distance runners is Rudyard Kipling’s “If,” which teaches that racing is as much about your mental posture as your physical fitness. Read aloud, it speaks to many of the emotions we felt yesterday at the 2015 Hornet-Red Devil Invitational. Results. DyestatIL Recap. Tyler Hughes Historic Creek Jump. Milesplit Illinois Recap. Connor Horn Interview. Coach Vandersteen Interview. Daily Herald Article.
If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs…
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting...
All week we practiced restlessly, preparing ourselves for the pitiless heat. A summer of preparation can overwhelm a runner’s nerves if he pours all of his ambitions into one precarious moment, and we were eager to get our first race behind us to recenter our focus. Mercifully, the meet organizers moved the Varsity race to 9:00 A.M., which allowed us to confront the moment under cloud cover.
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
The Varsity race lived up to those verses, as our team executed their plan almost exactly as they had hoped. Connor Horn (3rd/15:06) held back on his personal race in order to help pace the lead pack, which was larger than any we’d ever raced. Scott Anderson (4th/15:07) fulfilled the promise of a year of meticulous preparation, and Jake McEneaney (7th/15:12), Jackson Jett (9th/15:16), and Dominic Dina (10th/15:16) sealed the win with hard strides up the hill. PRs by Caleb Ferguson (15:20), Zach Kinne (15:21), Patrick Wolak (15:22), Danny Winek (15:42), Josh Mollway (15:53), Josh Patel (16:16), Paul Neubauer (16:43) Peter O’Neill (16:48), Ethan Ohlhausen (16:53), Lukas Weber (17:02) led a parade of the summer’s consummation. Junior Jeremy Hayhurst (16:32) improved on last year’s mark by almost two minutes, proof of what a year of dedication can deliver.
But there was indeed disaster amidst the triumph, as x-rays soon revealed that Scott Anderson had broken his ankle a half mile into the race, and he was splinted in the early afternoon. The image of Scott that impresses most is not his finish yesterday, but the methodical patience he brought to every push up set, every hip exercise, every lunge. He is the metronome of the team, and it will be heartbreaking to start the next race without him. But yesterday’s victory was built on the model of his consistency, and we will carry that example with us.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
As the sun climbed the sky, the races intensified, and our freshmen debuted in a field of sweltering humidity. Chris Keeley (4th/10:02) matched Jake McEneaney’s effort from two years prior, and was soon joined by Michael Madiol (10:56), Nick Drechsler (11:01), Matt Jett (11:10), and Michael O’Connor (11:17) for a 5th place team finish. The Sophomore race, packed with upperclassmen refugees, proved a thrilling affair, with Alan Poe, Shiva Singh, and Keanan Ginell leading the surge for a 3rd place finish.
The relief we feel at our good fortune and happy results is tempered by the painful losses and imposing challenges of the road ahead. We will resume our preparations and intensify our efforts, drawing on Kipling-- and Scott Anderson-- for inspiration.
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!