Conference Champs!Tuesday, October 18 2016 - West Suburban Conference Championship - Gold
Yesterday was a historic day for the Mustang Cross Country program. For just the second time ever (and second year in a row) the team managed to win the Conference Championship on all levels: Freshman, Sophomore, Varsity, and JV. This year we won in the most convincing fashion we ever had, which is really a testament to the team chemistry, character, and culture that led to a full team commitment this fall working hard day in day out.
We began the day with our first challenge, trying to win the Freshman championship. The coaching staff had a tough decision to make in calculating how best to achieve the team goal of winning all races. We elected to move freshman John Norris up to the sophomore race since our sophomore team, we feared, might be undermanned due to the 4 sophomores that would later run varsity. Without John, the freshman team knew we'd need guys to step up. Step up they did running a tremendous team race that saw the majority of guys run PRs on a tough course.
As the gun went off, several Mustangs immediately moved their way to the front. John Heneghan, Canyon Stage, and Tyler Bleau were looking great as 1-3. Not far behind were Ben Skibbe and Caleb Radcliff. As the race progressed, Morton moved up a bit to make things a bit interesting, but ultimately DGS finished the race well and as our number 5 runner Radcliff and 6th Joey Straus passed Morton's 4th and 5th respectively, we knew we had our first win in the bag. Up front, it was John Heneghan who took home the individual win with a huge PR of 17:12. This kept a Mustang streak alive of 7 straight years of having the victor in this race. Bleau and Stage held on for 3rd and 5th, both running personal best times. Skibbe and Radcliff both finished in the top 16 for "All-Conference".
Straus, Joe Hyzy, Zach Bergman, Carlos Mendez, Jay Wiseman, Billy Versaskas, Pavlo Vovk, David Arlt, Zachary Krauter, and Kyle Santore all ran PRs during the Mustang victory. The team score was DGS 27 and 2nd place Morton 40.
Race number two was the sophomore race. In this race, we never really know what to expect as some teams elect to keep their top sophs down in this race while others run them varsity. Morton, Hinsdale South, and Leyden moved theirs up, while Willowbrook kept them down. The race went out very quickly in the first 400 meters, but the DGS boys kept their composure and went out under control. By the 1 km point of the race, DGS was in solid position and apparently in a battle with WB for the team race. The same was the case up front as Brock Royle caught WB's Matt Caron from behind by the mile mark. They continued to push each other throughout the race in a two-man race for the win. John Norris lurked behind in a comfortable 3rd place. Behind him were Colin Dunn and Ben Laurich working together throughout the race. Henry Mora, Matt Peloso and Mitch Ludewig weren't far behind. Ultimately, despite a PR by Brock, Caron emerged victorious for WB. He was the #2 WB guy on the day. Royle was 2nd, with Norris 3rd, Dunn 6th, Laurich 8th, and Mora 12th. DGS totaled only 31 points to hold off WB 31-54. Peloso finished 17th and Ludewig 20th putting every DGS runner in the top 20 out of a race of 50+ athletes.
The third race was the much anticipated varsity race. On paper, we certainly were the favorite but we raced well above and beyond that expectation. The Mustangs quickly asserted ourselves up front to the point that by the mile mark it was clear that barring something catastrophic, DGS had it won and the race was for 2nd. Contrary to a catastrophe, DGS actually continued to press the advantage and ultimately won the most lopsided conference title in at least 10 years by any team. For the second year in a row, DGS had all 7 competitors finish all-conference. For the first time in conference history, all 7 of those runners were in the top 10!
Stephen Pipilas followed the race plan and took the race out hard. Stephen quite literally led the race for every step of it in winning the individual championship in an impressive 15:36, especially considering he was just pushing himself the whole time. With a big move with 800m to go, Eddie Siuda pulled ahead of two Hinsdale South runners for 2nd in 15:50. Akhil Ghosh was 5th in 16:09. Close behind in 6-8th were Nick Dziedzic, James Weigel, and George Willer. Luke LaLonde was the 7th Mustang finisher placing 10th overall. The incredible team race gave DGS the easy victory over 2A #20 ranked Hinsdale South 21-77. The team had an impressive 1-5 average of 16:02 on the tough course at KLM. Making this win even more impressive was the fact that it was accomplished with 4 sophomores and 3 juniors.
The final race of the afternoon was the icing on the cake. Our depth was truly on display as DGS dominated the JV race taking 9 of the 16 "all-conference" spots. Zack Wascher, Marc Alvarez, and Rylan Dreyer ran together for the majority of the race, working together and pushing hard. Each ran well to ultimately finish 2nd-4th in 16:56, 17:02, and 17:04 respectively. Luke McGrath had fallen back a bit but finished well to place 5th in 17:05. Grant Connolly was the 5th Mustang and 7th finisher overall. Jimmy Slowik, Sam Kirk, Ryan Gage, and Jeremy Canfield all ran well to be all-conference. The race saw almost too many season bests to mention, most of which were also lifetime bests. The most exciting thing about the JV race and really all the races for that matter was seeing the toughness on display by our athletes. Our boys did not give an inch and left everything they had out there on the course. There is really nothing that makes coaches prouder than being able to honestly say that.
While the regular season comes to a close, the varsity group sets its sights on the post-season which gets rolling this Saturday. We'll race at Dellwood Park in Lockport again for the IHSA Regional meet. We are unquestionably in the toughest Regional we've ever been since IHSA made CC a 3-class sport so we will have our work cut out for us. If Saturday was any indication, though, we should be in for a fun and exciting 3 weeks as we set our sights on the State Championship meet on November 5.