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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Old School Cross Country Finishes Teach Team Valuable Lesson at Byron

There are lessons learned in every race, if you look for them. Byron’s handicap race allowed for our team depth to shine, and taught us how every place and split second matters.

Fresh off a team trophy performance in Freeport which was won by our sixth runner, we were narrowly beaten by Rock Falls. History repeated itself tonight, as RF got past us by a single point again, with exciting finishes making the difference in team tally.  The narrow "old school" chute opening between padded posts was used, instead of the 15 foot wide line, and it made for some exciting finishes.

Richtman sped to a new Kaneland best on the 2.87 mile course when he ran 14:45. This was 29 seconds faster than our previous best of 15:14 by All Stater Matt Reusche in 2009.

Orczykowski held his ground after a :20 delay to earn 8th. He was on the heels of a Richmond-Burton pack of seniors who earned the team title with five in the Top 10, and a :21 split for the day.  Occhipinti found the chute as our third runner, finishing 11th after being delayed 2:40 at the start.
Things started to get exciting a few runners later when senior Anthony Messina made a Rock Falls runner his “hunted” and was relentless to the chute, crashing into pads and earning a hard fought medal and 1 point edge at 14th.  Next, Wielgos chased in a pack of three scoring RF Rockets and with .6 seconds the difference between he and their #5 at 18th place. (52-53, RF)

RF wasn’t done, as they avenged the close finish by Messina in taking back a pad crashing place. Purcell was surprised at the chute by another aggressive Rocket runner who came charging past in the very last second. Bodies spilled on the grass in this fun, old-school finish. Ben earned 21st place overall, and showed great fortitude in the process. 

Our next set of finishers all made great use of the pack mentality we try to bring to our races. Patrick Riedel nabbed a 24th place medal in 19:03. He kept Petrik close to him on the course by putting up “targets” and encouragement. Petrik came in one second later to earn the final Varsity medal of the day. Lodwig joined them at the chute in 19:06, and raced 2:00 faster for his overall time (17:06). Sophomore Drake Nemec battled hard despite not feeling well, and defeated half of the talented field for 31st place overall.

When the tallies for scores are complete in the remaining races we will run, it will come down to a scant few points. It doesn’t matter if you are the #1 or the #6, you’re going to have to beat every last man within two seconds of you for the chance to advance. We practice finishes for a reason, boys. We need to take every advantage of points left at the chute so that we can move forward. We earned a trophy in Freeport. We learned a lesson in Byron. Never get beat at the chute. Never give up.

Klingensmith picked up where he left off in ’15. He set a :74 PR on the course and won the Open. Abruzzo had a blistering kick to the line :06 later for 2nd overall. Seth Nosek enjoyed some help from his brother during the race to net 3rd in 17:52, and Finn was right on his heels for 4th at 17:54. Just :14 separated our front four in this race.

Girolamo completed our pack scoring and split at :41 when he crossed the line in 7th. Scotty Dunne also looked strong (and smiling) as he raced through the finish in 9th for a medal. Jablonski took home the final medal of the day in 15th with a 2:40 PR on the hilly course.  Holder was next in at 16th and 20:37, stringing consecutive strong finishes together.  Arty Patrick used the RF runner for motivation through the final mile of the course to run 18th in 21:31.

Our remaining pack rallied with Woods to bring home our final five runners in :02 for 21st to 25th place. That Varsity pack will need to continue to pick up steam in the remaining races, and finish in a similar manner. While we work to close the gap between 1-2, our greatest strength will be the small spacing between our 2-7. This crew must work it’s way up to run with the #3s, 4s and 5s of those teams we are trying to catch.

Just like the “goose” lessons on our sheets from earlier in the year, there will be a great need to “fly” together. Every single point will count at the end.


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