As a general rule, runners are not nocturnal creatures. Running at top speed across uneven fields dappled by shadow and silhouettes invites rolled ankles, and increases the likelihood of collisions and pileups. Most runners’ entire metabolisms are built around mornings—the early practice, the race held before drawing the sun’s full attention.
That’s what makes Naperville’s annual Twilight Invitational so electric—it combines an unnatural glow with an irregular schedule and a carnival atmosphere lifted straight from some neon Mardi Gras. With a whole day to build anticipation, our teams take the line in an unfamiliar situation, uncertain of what to expect. Though guided by towers of light, they are truly racing into the darkness.
Fortunately, the results of the 2016 Twilight Invite proved incandescent. Our Freshman/Sophomore crew faced off against several teams that had bloodied them in the past—like Naperville North and Hinsdale Central—and some (like Glenbard West) whose reputation was growing more intimidating with each result sheet. This was the first meet we had our full complement of runners, and we were fortunate that this was the case as the race proved even more intense a scrap than Lockport. A resurgent Chris Keeley (6th, 16:16) led the way, summoning a fearsome kick to stride past teammates Rodrigo Alvarez (7th, 16:17) and Michael Madiol (9th, 16:20). Spencer Teske (16th, 16:36) continued to ascend, and Nick Drechsler (17th, 16:38) recorded another PR. Matt Jett (24th, 16:57) and Jack Orengo (28th, 17:02) rounded out the top 7, with Kevin Daneliak (17:35), Ramsay Johnson (18:02), Sam Stuart (18:46), Rahul Koul (18:55), Joey Klaips (18:56), Nate Spencer (19:54), and many others all running significant PRs.
The J/V Race proved a showcase for one of our programs more diffident and dependable drones. Alex Johnson (1st, 15:59) led from gunshot to finish line, finally cracking the 16:00 barrier. Season’s best performances were also submitted by Dakota Getty (8th, 16:29), Alan Poe (11th, 16:30), Evan McVittie (17th, 16:37), and Josh Patel (18th, 16:39). Keanan Ginell (16:51) submitted his usual gritty, steady effort, while seniors Erik Huenecke (16:56) and Paul Neubauer (17:02) made the most of their last race under the lights. Season records were demolished by DJ Sauer (17:27), “Professor” Matt Lindell (17:29), Rishi Pandey (17:33), Isaiah Robinson (17:37), “Private” Austin Nguyen (17:41), Danny Speckels (17:46), Paul McIntyre (17:50), Joe Tarszowicz (17:55), Michael Dy (17:58), John Kubicki (18:00), and David Botos (18:21), among others.
The lights glowed brightest on the Varsity Race, which was a heavily hyped, highly anticipated tilt between some of Illinois’ most decorated programs. After several weeks of split squads and injury rehabilitation, no one was certain how the team would race together. Yet it was evident early on that something special was unfolding, as a disciplined Jake McEneaney and an ambitious Jackson Jett surged into the lead pack. For both, it proved the most complete race of the season, but it was what followed that proved most exciting. For the second week in a row, Jake (14:49) finished second to a probable all-state athlete, only to pivot and watch a tight line of gold stream across the finish line. Jett (4th, 14:55), Josh Mollway (5th, 15:00), Zach Kinne (6th, 15:01), and Matt “Mongoose” Milostan (7th, 15:01) all finished within six seconds of one another (and all-state runner Blake Evertsen!). Most excitingly, a rehabilitated Scott Anderson (10th, 15:10) looked close to old form, and hot hand Jeremy Hayhurst (13th, 15:15) has never looked better. Sterling efforts by juniors Ryan Kennedy (15:24) and Tyler Bombacino (15:42) yielded season’s best marks, with hard-luck Bombacino PRing on a miserable blister (after previously PRing with a miserable cold). The results were eye-popping and exhilarating, but a full month away from the brightest lights of all. There is still much work to do.
As the clock neared 10 PM and we boarded our buses, we tried to enjoy the night for a just a few seconds more. For some of us, the season ends in ten short days; for a select few, there’s an impending date in November. We rode home together, singing and cheering, the bus’s headlights cutting shafts through the darkness. So much remains hidden, shrouded, and uncertain. But after tonight, the path forward shines ust a little bit brighter. Results DyestatIL Recap Video Jake McEneaney Interview FS Video Spikes and Flats Twilight Video NCTV Recap