Peoria Central Invitational RecapSunday, October 1 2017
This weekend, the Mustangs sent 7 guys down to the very tough Peoria Central Invitational. This was a first for us as we've never attended this one before. We were hoping for an opportunity to run fast, compete hard, and more than anything just get another shot on the state meet course. The trip was a success entirely as the overnight venture brought the guys together even more as a team as they had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together, with much of it focused on running and talk of running.
The race itself was an exciting one. From the gun, Dylan Jacobs of Sandburg took the race out very fast coming through the 400 around 60 seconds and the 800 in around 2:08. This pulled everyone out hard and set up that the race would be a fast pace from the start. Our top 3 guys situated themselves near the front during the first mile with Akhil, Stephen, and Eddie coming through the 800 meter mark together around 2:15. Not far back was Nick Dziedzic who made the conscious effort to get himself out quick and in good position early on. A little bit back were Luke LaLonde, John Heneghan, and Rylan Dreyer.
As the race progressed, our top 3 drifted a bit further back than we would've expected which was certainly an effect of having not raced in the last three weeks. Today served as an opportunity to knock the rust off after a fantastic block of training that will serve them incredibly well come championship season. They ultimately finished quite well in 16th, 17th, and 19th places overall. For the first time this season, we had a different face as our top finisher in Eddie Siuda who ran a PR of 14:59. This was his first time under 15 and puts him 6th on the all-time DGS list. Pip was next in 15:02 followed closely by Akhil in 15:06. Akhil summed up his race by saying that last time he raced was the best race of his life and today he felt like he had a terrible race. He ran only 5 seconds slower while not feeling great.... a good sign of things to come!
After the top 3 is really where our team made a big step towards being where we want to be at the end of the year. Our 4th man Dziedzic finally had that breakthrough race we've been telling him was coming. After a week of conversations with him about getting out hard and that he's capable of running great, it all clicked! He went out in 4:53 and through the two mile in 10:09. He battled in the last mile to run a 30+ second PR in 15:21. He placed 31st overall.
Behind him were the duo of LaLonde and Heneghan who for the first time seemed to pair up and work together. This greatly benefitted both as they dipped under 16 for the first time in both their careers. LaLonde placed 70th and Heneghan 76th, running 15:47 and 15:51 respectively. Our #7 on the day was senior Rylan Dreyer who also had a career best breakthrough race. Like everybody else, he learned that he's fit enough to get out fast and just be tough enough to hang on for a great race. He placed 99th in 16:05. All 7 Mustangs finished in the top 100 in a tough field of over 200 athletes!
Immediately after the race, the whole group was excited and positive realizing the importance of the 4-7 runners' improvements, including our top 3 who would've liked to see at least slightly better individual showings. As a coach, that attitude of TEAM FIRST is something that pleased me as much as anything I saw at the meet.
Ultimately, we placed 4th out of 34 teams. The final scores were really tight from 1-5 as we were only 25 points away from winning the meet. While placing higher would've been great, this reinforced our belief that we can run with any team in the state. Our top 5 average time was 15:15, which is the best in the 50+ year history of DGSXC. Also, our 1-5 and 1-7 time splits were significantly better than what we've had all year, a testament to the improvement of those 4-7 runners.
With the "rust" officially knocked off for our top 3 yesterday, we focus our attention on Wednesday's Naperville Twilight Meet where we'll have the opportunity to run against DGN and Neuqua Valley, the top two ranked teams in the state along with many other great programs. After Wednesday, it's Championship Season as we roll into the Conference Championship meet followed by the IHSA state series.
"Everybody's watching, waiting for greatness"