One of the coolest Cross Country invitationals returned for a spectacular fifth year on Wednesday night. After initial fear that 2014 would be the last year of the Twilight Invite, New Balance and Naperville Running Company stepped forward with sponsorship to continue this amazing tradition. Music pumped, lights flashed, fans screamed, and Neuqua Valley emerged victorious.
As dusk began to settle on the newly minted course at Naperville North High School, the FULL Frosh / Soph squad toed the line. Yes, for the first time in the entire season, Zach Kinne, Danny Winek, and Ryan Kennedy would all join together with the remaining squad to showcase the bright future of Neuqua running. Kinne, Winek, and Kennedy took the top three spots with only 23 seconds separating them. Tyler Bombacino and Chris Keeley closed out the five-man scoring with 8th and 11th places, respectively, earning Neuqua the win with a mere 25 points over 2nd place Yorkville with 93 points. The action didn’t stop there at all. With only two races remaining in the season, these freshmen and sophomores raced with all their will and determination as they entered the stadium to finish on the soft turf field. Kudos to Michael Madiol and Nick Drechsler who continue to improve with each race. Matt Lindell cracked the top 100 with a finish of 18:01.4. Calvin McIntyre was aggressive with his race plan this evening, finishing in 18:41.2, and John Kubicki skated in under 19:00, crossing the line in 18:58.1. Racing together is a key strategy we employ; Patrick Hong, Matt Thomas, Nathan Spencer, and Khalil Knight all finished together at around 20:35. With only the Conference race remaining for these young men, they are primed and ready for the challenge. Results Jake McEneaney Interview Video Race Highlights FS Video Race Highlights Jake McEneaney Interview II Coach Vandersteen Interview Chicago Tribune Article
With night clearly upon us, hopes from coaches and the runners were rather high for the Open race. Wylie Anderson, Peter O’Neill, and Josh Patel charged to the front of the pack and took control of the race immediately. Coach Rossi and I raced to the mile mark to monitor their progress, but there we waited for over seven minutes. Racers passed us but they weren’t the leaders we had seen just moments ago. Over two minutes later, the true leaders of the race passed by. All the coaches and spectators soon surmised what had happened…the racers had unfortunately gone off-course. In the midst of the dark fields, parents had crowded a key turn, and the racers were mis-directed and ended up adding somewhere around an additional quarter mile or more to their race. While not everyone followed the lost leaders, the entire race was then thrown into disarray. No medals or team trophies could be awarded because of the mishap. Many runners were certainly upset, but thankfully there is still the Conference Championship next week to channel their frustration and energy into.
With Connor Horn a game-time decision before the Varsity race, Jake McEneaney decided to rise to the occasion and become our top runner for the evening. The pack raced closely behind him and held strong through the second mile. With Horn having to drop out after a half mile, our boys did not skip a beat; 6th place through 10th were all Neuqua…Dina, Livingston, Jett, Milostan, and Wolak all passed the inflatable finish line arch within 9 seconds of one another, a mere 18 seconds from front-runner McEneaney. Neuqua won with 32 points, upending Hinsdale Central, who scored 56.
Decisions will need to be made regarding line-ups for Conference and the upcoming State series, and, clearly, the depth of this team will make those decision difficult. But it’s a great problem to have!
Full results can be found HERE.
Videos and a recap from Dyestat can be found HERE.