After a relatively mild summer with temperatures never consistently surpassing the mid-80's, along with the cool, autumn-esque weather of the past several weeks, the Wildcats faced saturating humidity and blazing temperatures on the dusty Detweiller course of the Richard Spring Invitational this past Saturday, September 16, in Peoria. With the safety of their athletes as their utmost concern, the coaches instructed all runners to hydrate early and often and to run a conservative race against the expansive field of over 60 teams. Thankfully, those instructions were heeded closely as the Varsity squad emerged victorious over top State contenders, and the Open runners notched a near perfect score to dominate that race.
With temperatures already inching into the mid-80's by 11:00 am, the Varsity competitors created a veritable dust bowl as they blazed down the rock solid ground of Detweiller Park. Zach Kinne, alongside Logan Hall, chased Dylan Jacobs for the entirety of the race. Ryan Kennedy settled very comfortably and aggressively into the chase pack, and Danny Winek began to show the impressive inklings of his superstar running talent as he continues his return from injury. Chris Keeley, Michael Madiol, and Alex Johnson fought as a pack against the conditions, and Tyler Bombacino was unfortunately hampered by blister-ridden feet. Though Kinne passed Logan Hall in the final 1200, Hall came back to take the runner-up position, and Kinne placed 3rd at 14:39.4. This time ranks him as one of only 9 runners in Neuqua Valley history to ever run 14:39 or faster. Some of those names include the Derrick brothers, Chris and Mark, along with Connor Horn, Danny Pawola, and Jack Jett. Clearly, he is among some rare air with those talented runners! Kennedy pushed hard through the final mile and came through the finish in 19th place at 15:08. Winek was through the timing mats in 30th place for 15:26, and Keeley was just behind him in 32nd place for 15:27. Madiol impressively held close to his teammates for 37th place and 15:30. Johnson was feeling the heat and humidity in the final half mile and closed his race in 57th place for 15:47. Bombacino finished in 118th place at 16:12. When his numerous blisters heel, he will be right back in the pack.
The team race proved once again how tough Wheaton Warrenville South and Hersey really are. Only 13 points separated the top 3 teams. Our hats go off to those impressive teams, and we look forward to racing them again down the road.
The Frosh / Soph squad kicked off their race in even more stifling conditions at 11:30 am. Ramsey Johnson and Vasant Fong ran stride for stride the entire race, pacing together and leaning on one another in the tough moments. Dylan Bushelle and Ryan Horn served as chasers just behind them. Colin Searls, Quinn Kennedy, and David Tassone fought their races individually among the over 300 hundred competitors out on the course. With temperatures and humidity levels rising, Johnson took 28th place in 16:48, and Fong was 31st in 16:51. Bushelle separated himself from Horn in the final mile and ended the day in 54th place with a time of 17:10. Horn broke the top 100 in 81st place for 17:25. Kennedy was hampered by the heat yet still pushed himself to finish in 105th place for 17:41. Searls was next in 119th place for 17:50. Tassone closed out his day in 177th place for 18:39.
Given the conditions and the enormity of the race, placing 10th among 48 Frosh / Soph teams is absolutely an achievement. These young men still need to commit to racing together through the pain and struggle of miles 2 and 3. They will have that opportunity this coming Monday as the Frosh / Soph team travels to Elmhurst for the York Frosh / Soph Invitational. We will see some of the same teams just two days later.
The starter's gun sounded at high noon to signal the start of the Open race with temperatures now nearing 90 degrees. It is races such as these that demonstrate the depth of Neuqua Valley Cross Country. According to the official results, 817 runners accounting for 37 different teams competed in this race. A perfect score in a Cross County race is 15 points, meaning that a single team takes the top 5 individual places. On this day, in these conditions, among so many talented athletes, Neuqua Valley runners accounted for 6 of the top 10 runners, and they scored a mere 17 points. The 2nd place team, Naperville Central, accrued 108 points. Yes, we defeated them by 91 points in a race that included nearly 1000 runners. Wow...just wow!
Congratulations to individual champion Dakota Getty for his impressive victory in 15:58. Keenan Ginell was the runner-up in 16:11. Michael O'Connor (3rd, 16:14) and Quinton Quagliano (4th, 16:15) raced together and helped to push everyone to great performances. Continuing their sophomore year pattern, Spener Teske (7th, 16:29) and Nick Drechsler (8th, 16:31) were together from the gun to the final stride toward the finish. Each of these young men are vying for top Varsity positions, and all the miles these past summer months are beginning to pay off for them. There were many, MANY more personal bests and amazing races on Saturday. With 75 total runners in this race, it's difficult to highlight everyone, but we will certainly try as the season progresses. We're very happy that everyone came through these conditions successfully and healthy!
Meet Recap by Mike Newman
Photos Via our Facebook Page
Daily Herald Article
Zach Kinne Interview