As we pulled away from the high school in the early morning darkness, we knew when the sun came up, we were in for a battle. The battle was twofold: Running against some formidable opponents was one, but the greatest opponent this day was the big yellow ball in the sky. Fortunately, despite the hot and humid conditions, our guys ran smart, and we had some good performances.
We took 20 upperclassmen to this meet. 10 guys would run in the varsity, 5k race, and the other ten in the Open race which was trimmed down to a 3k due to the heat.
Our plan was to run this race very similar to the last two - get out conservative and pick it up the last mile if we felt okay. The varsity race started at 10:50 a.m. (9:50 a.m. our time) and it was already 83 degrees with high humidity, and no breeze.
The gun fired to start the varsity race and the guys got out well and settled into a rhythm. As they approached the mile mark, Zach “Zmundo” Kinne had established a clear position in 2nd, ahead of the chase pack, but well behind Danny Kilrea from Lyons. Ryan Kennedy was in the top ten and the rest of the top seven in about 20th-25th. As the race proceeded up an incline on the soft ground, our pack began to inch forward. Zach continued to gap the field behind him and cruised into finish 2nd. Danny Winek was able to catch Ryan and they both captured top ten positions. Juniors Michael Madiol and Chris Keeley (with a wound on his shoulder from getting too close to a tree), rounded out our top five finishing 17th and 20th. Tyler “Bombazine” Bombacino rebounded from his blister-ridden poor performance of last week to finish strong behind Chris. Alex “Cabbage” Johnson ran his best race of the year and Michael “Maurice” O’Connor defied all logic, running very well in the heat. Dakota Getty and Keanan Ginell ran strong, rounding out our top ten, finishing in 38th and 41st in the 160 man field.
As our varsity began to try and cool down from their race, our next crew was getting ready. The sun was relentless at this point, but luckily the meet management was smart enough to make the adjustment to a 3k. Our guys started off well, with 4-5 guys bunching up as a chase pack behind a couple guys who got out really hard. At about the mile mark, Quinton “Q squared” Quagliano had caught the leader and moved into the lead. He held that position for his first-ever xc victory. Nicholas Drechsler moved past some guys for 4th. DJ Sauer and Spencer Teske finished 8th and 11th. The race of the day belonged to our 5th man in this race, Matt ‘The Professor’ Lindell, who finished 12th overall. Blake “Blakee” Storoe finished strong in 13th and Paul “Skinny” McIntyre showed some strength after battling the flu the week before last. Calvin McIntrye, Kevin Daneliak, and Erik Thompson rounded out our finishers, all placing 33rd or higher. We won the team title with just 36 points.
As we ate sandwiches brought by our parents, and admired the architecture of the buildings around us, we reflected on how fortunate we were to come out of this meet healthy. We hopped into the buses and headed to Culver’s restaurant where we gulped down milkshakes to cap off a great day.