First to the Finish RecapSunday, September 10 2017
Saturday was a big step forward in the journey we are on this fall. Last weekend we had some decent performances at LT, but definitely walked away thinking we had a bit more to show. This weekend at Peoria's historic Detweiler Park, we showed that we can race with any program in the state and are even more excited now to get back to training to continue our progression of continual improvement that's really been going on for nearly a year.
Our first race of the day was the gigantic Open Race that brought together athletes from 75 schools and a total of over 400 runners. This is a race that we certainly have experienced limited success over the years and we've generally been incredibly happy to just get a couple guys in the top 100. We showed how much we've grown as a program by placing 5th out of 75 teams in this race even without a number of likely contributors that we missed this weekend due to recovering from injury or commitments to marching band. Nonetheless, the men that toed the line came ready to compete and raced aggressively and ultimately very well in most cases.
Ryan Gage led the way battling to a 15th place finish, the best we've ever had an individual garner in this particular race. He ran a lifetime best of 16:55 along the way. Close behind were a trio of Mustangs placing 36th, 39th, and 42nd in Max Wascher, Ben Skibbe, and Brock Royle. This was a solid race for all three but in particular it was nice to see Royle continue to work his way back from an injury that held him back from basically May-July. In a huge PR, Jack Hudec placed 61st as our #5, running 17:31. Matt Peloso and Ben Laurich both ran under 18 minutes and placed in the top 100. Unfortunately for the rest of the guys, the fast course didn't exactly materialize as such due to the incredibly crowded course conditions that certainly led them to running well over 3.0 miles as it was impossible to run tangents on a course that packed. With that said, a number of others still ran very well on the day.
After watching an impressive performance by the Lady Mustangs before us where they placed 3rd against a very tough field, the varsity group was finally ready to go. From the gun, a few Mustangs clearly focused on the race plan of getting into good position. Akhil Ghosh, Stephen Pipilas, and Eddie Siuda were all instructed to get out quick and be confident that they belong up front. The men certainly didn't disappoint as in particular, Ghosh went right up to the front and came around the turn at 800 meters with the leaders in a time that couldn't have been more than 5 seconds slower than his lifetime best 800m run on the track. From there he, along with Pip and Eddie battled to either maintain or move up a few spots. Ultimately the three would all finish in the top 16 overall and ran lifetime bests. Pipilas ended up 6th in 14:54 (the 4th fastest time in DGS history), Ghosh in 15:00 (#6 in history), and Siuda 15:05 (#7). Behind that trio we had a bit of a gap to #4 and 5, which is something we know we'll improve upon in the coming month to make us even tougher as a team, but that gap did come down slightly from last week even with Stephen running faster up front. Nick Dziedzic was our 4th today running a PR of 15:53. He'll continue to drop big chunks of time as the fall rolls on as he was hampered a bit during the summer by some back issues that limited his training a bit. He's healthy now and will be much faster and closer to Siuda in the weeks to come. Our 5th was Luke LaLonde who ran a big breakthrough and PR of 16:04. He bounced back from a rough outing last weekend at LT to show the fitness that we know he has after a monster summer of training.
Ultimately, the lads (I'm really into Premier League soccer now and think it sounds cool to say "lads") finished 3rd, taking home a trophy for the second straight week. Since this meet has grown to the level it currently is at, we'd never finished in the top 10. In fact, two years ago we placed 17th in this meet and then ended up 12th in state. Why that's relevant is that we know that in our program, athletes aren't really ready to run their fastest on September 9th. We look forward to the annual breakthroughs that come as we move into October and Championship Season. By that time, we should be, as the coach from New Trier said of us... "Scary Good". Our mantra of "Sneaky Good" was fun for a few years, but with what we put forward this weekend, I'm pretty sure we aren't going to surprise teams anymore.
We have arrived!
The Mustangs do not compete again until Monday 9/18 and look forward to a solid week of training and getting stronger.