Saturday’s meet in Freeport was very exciting, led by the gritty efforts of our seniors. In the closest team finish in meet history, Rock Falls narrowly beat the Knights by just a point (60-61). However, Kaneland tied Belvidere for second, and took home the hardware on the efforts of our sixth runner.
Andrew Kantola had a break-out performance to lead the Knights with a 6th place PR run. Henry Nosek was just :12 back in 16:26, and a course PR. Webster surged through the final mile to finish 14th, and Heiser was just :04 back as our #4.
Senior Noah Duffey fought stomach issues and hip pain to grind out a top 30 finish, which would be just enough to catch Belvidere. Ben Purcell came back to the lineup from injury to set a course PR and finished four places ahead of the Belvidere #6, which earned us the trophy for XC’s only tie-breaking rule.
Anthony Messina continues to lead by example on and off the course, and he was able to notch an inspired 52nd place in 18:39. In CJ Girolamo’s first race back to the lineup, he raced to 56th. Both of these young men demonstrate courage and perseverance daily. Kyle Konrad also got back from injury to compete on the Freeport course for the first time, running 6:30 mile pace. While the health of the varsity group has been shaky at best, their tremendous will to compete made carrying the team trophy home that much more sweet.
On the frosh soph side, the team was looking for its first team title of 2016. They more than earned it with three pretzels and four in the Top 10. Daniel Occhipinti burned up the course with a 16:12, our fastest team time of the day. Wielgos gave great chase throughout, taking second in 16:18, a :49 improvement from ‘15. Lodwig earned the last pretzel in 5th, besting his 2015 time by 1:21. Nemec is on a roll and feeling good, today earning a 10th place finish while practicing what we preach in races by keeping Petrik close throughout. Petrik willed himself to an ACC/Freeport PR time of 17:38 as our #5.
Riedel earned an individual medal in 17th, and Seth Nosek took home one of his own with a grueling and inspired 18:02 PR. Watching Seth compete and push his own limits is worth the price of admission. Abruzzo smashed his ACC time by :56 for 21st overall. Orczykowski (-:45) and Klingensmith (-1:21) each set course PRs.
Finn and Dunne both beat their ACC times on this longer, hillier course. Each runner continues to develop and grow as we race more. Jablonski beat his 2015 time by 1:11 to finish 44th. Holder and Patrick were within a few seconds of their ACC times, and they continue to show both the mental and physical toughness which this sport requires. Woods capped another great day by surging often through final two miles to run just one second off his ACC PR pace.
While we have some work to do, and some bodies to get healthy, this was a very positive day for our program.