Peoria High Invite RecapSunday, September 30 2018
Saturday was an absolutely unforgettable day for the Mustangs at the Peoria High Invite down at Detweiler Park. The Mustangs impressively got the best of a field of 35 strong programs including several that had been ranked well ahead of the harriers from South. Just three weeks earlier, we travelled south to contest the state meet course in the First to the Finish Meet. We thought that day that we’d have a shot to win the thing, but instead had an awful day finishing a very disappointing 15th. At that point in the season, our biggest obstacle was our own confidence as we saw our state ranking drop precipitously from 7th to UNRANKED. We knew last week was an important test and we came to race at Palatine. Immediately after that race unfolded, the coaching staff assessed that we ran well… but not anywhere near our full potential. This weekend (after jumping back into the rankings at 9th) we came closer to realizing that potential and, while we have plenty of work and improving yet to do, started to look like the team we expected to be when this all got started back in June.
The evening before, the boys discussed what the plan and goal would be for the following day. While the plan of “patience early” was coming from the coaches, it was the athletes who insisted that they came to race and that they believed that they could and would win. As the gun went off, the Mustangs stuck to the plan and went out intelligently and came through the half mile all in contact with one another. The second half mile saw them start to move up into position. By the 1.5 it was evident that we were having a great day and the guys were doing something special. Edwin Siuda was positioned well and looking strong and it was clear he was going to continue moving up. John Norris was battling in the top 20 and cruising along with some of the best runners in the state. Right behind were James Weigel and John Heneghan who early on found each other and spent the duration of the race working together and benefitting from the energy of their teammate. George Willer was a bit back but looked incredibly strong and confident as they came by. Our 6th and 7th, Matt Peloso and Nick Dziedzic had awesome half-way splits and were running with the possibility of some big breakthroughs.
At the two mile was when just how fast we were moving started to sink in and I’m sure the guys could tell from the reaction on my face that we were rolling. Edwin had continued to pass guys and was closing in on a top 10 finish coming through the 2 mile in 9:40. Norris came through in 9:51 and close behind were John, James, and George in 9:56-57 and 10:04.
Over the last mile, it seemed not like a 35 team race, but a 4 team showdown between us, Lyons Township, Sandburg, and York. In fact, out of the 236 finishers, 17 runners in the top 34 were from those four schools!
When the race was finished, we were ecstatic with how we performed. I told the guys that we ran incredible but couldn’t really tell what place we were, but that it was top 3-4. The energy was excellent as we began our cooldown. I had my phone on me so that I could contact our other coaches and let them know how well we did. As we ran around the “triangle” of the course, my phone buzzed with a text from Coach Plunkett congratulating us on the win. It was really cool to hear about it in that way and that while his own team was readying for competition a couple states away in Minnesota, he was following the race at Peoria.
In the end, we had 6 lifetime bests races and a season best. Siuda broke the school’s all-time 3 mile record by 6 seconds, running 14:35 to better Jack LaLonde’s 14:41 from 2015. Norris set the all-time mark for a junior with his 14:52. John Heneghan posted the #6 junior time with 15:05, while Weigel and Willer are now #9 and #11 on the senior list at 15:06 and 15:10. The team’s top 5 average of 14:57 is 15 seconds faster per man than the previous school best.
With tomorrow just marking the beginning of October, we still have plenty of time and room for improvement and are excited to see how this all ends up playing out. One thing is for sure and that is that while we enjoyed the success on Saturday, we know we have a ways to go to meet our own lofty goals and expectations.