The sad truth of most Cross Country races is that they take place in other sports’ fields. It’s rare that an invite doesn’t bend around a soccer pitch or frolf course. Even Detweiller’s legendary lea is marred by football goalposts. That’s why it’s such a joy to bring the team to the Lockport Invitational every year. Because even though the first mile features more diamonds than Jared, the back half offers surprises and curiosities runners won’t find anywhere else in the state.
The day started at 9:00 AM with a memorable Freshman/Sophomore tilt. The trio of Ramsay Johnson (17:37), Vasant Fong (17:37), and Quinn Kennedy (17:42) led the way, finishing 15th, 16th, and 21st. Collin Searls (17:56) continued his impressive freshman campaign, trailed closely by fellow 9th graders Ryan Horn (18:20) and Leif Anderson (18:21). The race also featured a break-through effort from David Towa (18:31) and a 5k PR for Brian Jett (19:13). The 5th place finish gives the crew plenty of motivation moving into Wednesday’s Twilight Invitational.
For the second straight week, the Varsity added an extra 0.1 to their racing diet. Zach Kinne (15:13) out-dueled a gutsy Clayton Mendez, at one point passing the pacer cart. Ryan Kennedy (15:58) careened after him, very nearly spilling into the gulch by the two-mile mark. Seniors Tyler Bombacino (16:00) and Danny Winek (16:05) rolled over Dead Man’s Hill, with junior Chris Keeley (16:06) shutting the door for a first place team finish. The race of the day may have belonged to senior Dakota Getty (16:08), who was our 13th man at the Hinsdale Invitational. Meanwhile, junior Michael O’Connor lost a shoe in the first half mile, weathering the rocks and debris of another brutal 4000 meters. It was a reminder that O’Connor’s calamitous misfortune is regularly met by an indomitable toughness and determination.
However, there are few men on our team more determined than Keanan Ginell (16:59), who seized the Open Race from the cannon blast and never relinquished his hold. Lacking Bombacino’s stature or Winek’s pedigree, Ginell has built himself into one of the grittiest competitors in program history. However, he had plenty of company at the front of the parade—ten of the first 12 finishers bore the Neuqua logo. Runner-up Nick Drechsler (17:17) was closely pursued by senior DJ Sauer (17:25), juniors Kevin Daneliak (17:32), Blake Storoe (17:31), Spencer Teske (17:38), and Jack Orengo (17:43). Seniors Evan McVittie (17:44), Paul McIntyre (17:52), Matt Lindell (17:53), Danny Speckels (18:18), and Calvin McIntyre (18:23) each produced seasons’ best races, while tenderfooted underclassmen Sam Stuart (19:35), Alex Majus (19:58), Stephen Smilie (20:05), Daniel Gutierrez (20:15), and Luke Suman (20:16) all proved their mettle on the crushed rock hummocks of the second and third mile.
Back in the woods, away from the crowds, amidst the loose earth and arduous inclines, the athletes at Dellwood Park often discover things in the third mile that had previously lay hidden. They may find that their training has strengthened their bodies and spirit, that their pride has grown stiffer than rebar. It may surprise them that the names they practiced with all those miles in July are suddenly attached to bodies closer than kin. They may catch hold of—and hang onto—the vision they’d had of themselves when the training first began. It’s no longer an insubstantial visage. It has a face. And it’s climbing.