In high school, a lot can change in a year. Boys often return from summer with deeper voices and broader chests; girls with new alliances and fresh ambitions. One trip around the sun can remake a runner from a back-of-the-pack afterthought to a lead-chasing thoroughbred. Ask Scott Anderson, Michael Widmann or Chris Derrick how much a calendar matters.
The annual York Freshman/Sophomore Invitational is a reliable measuring stick for how much our guys have grown. Last year’s freshmen left this meet in 2015 with a bad taste, having lost a 6th man tiebreaker to Naperville North, the champions. A grueling summer followed an arduous Track season, and the newly minted sophomores laced up this past Monday hoping to avenge that stinging loss.
They had to do so without frontrunners Zach Kinne and Chris Keeley, who were resting following a pair of draining performances over the weekend. But bound by the camaraderie and trust of heavy miles and hills, the class of 2019 put forth their most complete race of the season. Led by the indefatigable Michael Madiol in 5th place, the Wildcats reversed the previous year’s results, this time beating Naperville North by 40 points. Madiol was trailed by Matt Jett, Michael O’Connor, Jack Orengo, Nick Drechsler, and Spencer Teske in 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th place respectively (It is worth noting that 7th man Kevin Daneliak also had his most complete race of the year). Each of these runners had something to prove in this race—whether it was the discipline to run up front or the focus to hang on or the tenacity to finish. And each one answered that challenge in resounding fashion.
Theirs will be a good example for the freshmen, who found themselves buried early in their race. While Rodrigo Alvarez (10:39) continued to dazzle with a first place finish (a tradition he now shares with program luminaries Zach Kinne, Jake McEneaney, and Connor Horn), the gap between him and our second man was vast and yawning. Daniel Conway and Quinn Kennedy picked off a few runners in the last mile, and Ramsay Johnson, Josh Rodriguez, and Sam Stuart finished within striking distance of a respectable pack. But the team’s 7th place finish gives them plenty to work for in the months to come. Flanked by Dylan Bushelle, Rahul Koul, Adam Gutierrez, and Joey Spencer, the young Wildcats have a committed core to build around.
For inspiration, they need only look at the sophomores in the Open Race, which featured a championship performance by Blake Storoe (11:31.7). The stalwart Storoe grew more committed by the week this summer, and showed a predator’s instinct in the final 50 meters, out-leaning his talented runner-up. Joining Blake on the honoree’s podium were the redoubtable Erik Thompson, the resurgent Luke Huenecke, and the inestimable Joey Klaips in 8th, 10th, and 17th place respectively. Each of these runners deserve this moment’s glory, as each of them grew in the season of commitment and challenge following last year’s race. Strong efforts were also submitted by Alex Kiefer, Nick Pope, Neel Pai, Aditya Sathyaprakash, and Rahul Nair.
It was one team but two very different buses on the ride home. The sophomores, newly robed in victory, and the freshmen, quiet and introspective. But this year’s dissatisfaction can seed next year’s bounty crop. Just ask the sophomores. After all, if there’s one other rule about high school, it’s that the years pass by quickly. Results