DGS Places 2nd at RegionalsSunday, October 23 2016 - IHSA 3A Regionals - Lockport
Saturday was a tremendous day and step in the right direction for the DGSXC team! We began our state series journey on a positive note with an impressive 2nd place finish behind national powerhouse DGN. We head into the state series aiming for our second straight birth to the state championship and only 3rd in school history. Entering this weekend, the distance running pundits in the state of Illinois have generally overlooked our boys and somewhat with good reason. We have kind of flown under the radar thus far as was both our intention and expectation. We did the same last year before coming on strong in the only 4 weeks that matter in CC: Conference, Regionals, Sectionals, and State. To those new to the sport, one must understand that CC isn’t a sport where coaches are concerned with wins and losses during August and September (at least not the coaches on our team!). While every coach wants to win every single week, just about everything that the team does is part of a greater plan and process that ideally lends itself to some great races in the four aforementioned big races. Right now, we have a group of dedicated athletes that understand the process, trust in the system, and expect to run great in the upcoming weeks.
We are well aware of the upcoming strength of our sectional, so this regional contest was an opportunity to see where we stack up against some teams that we know we’ll have to beat next week to earn our trip to Peoria. Only 5 teams will advance through sectionals and according to one website dyestatil.com, we’re looking at 7th and the other il.milesplit.com we are 6th. Both had Plainfield South, a very good program that is hungry to get down state after placing 6th in sectionals last year ahead of us and ranked 18th/19th respectively. Only milesplit even noticed our impressive conference showing and ranked us 25th (our first appearance in any poll this fall). Just 3 weeks ago, Plainfield South beat us soundly by about 60 points and a number of team places at the Locktoberfest Invite. The team was anxious for another go at a team that we’ve found ourselves locking horns with yet again.
As the gun went off, our boys took off relatively conservatively being mid-pack at best in the first quarter mile. By the 2k mark we’d moved into pretty good position as several things became clear: 1. DGN was running away with the race and 2. It would be very close with us, Plainfield South, and another very good team in Plainfield North. At that point one fear subsided which was the idea of getting through to sectionals. Our boys looked strong and certainly were in terrific position to garner at least a top 6 finish which was all that was needed to survive and advance. Now it was a matter of how we compared with these teams of most consequence.
Stephen Pipilas led the way for us battling up front with the DGN frontrunners. He ran a fine race to place 4th, picking off a DGN guy down the homestretch, a point that would be important in the team scoring. Akhil Ghosh ran well for about 3 miles before running out of gas in the homestretch and losing a few spots. Overall, Akhil looked much better on this course than last time around finishing 16th. Only 3 seconds behind was a charging Nick Dziedzic. Nick moved up beautifully throughout the race and ran easily his best race ever placing 17th in 16:45. Our fourth man was Eddie Siuda who placed 23rd in 16:57. Eddie was far from satisfied with the performance after placing 2nd in conference the weekend before. Knowing that Eddie will be ready to go on the flat/fast course at Marist next weekend is a nice ace-in-the-hole and gives us tremendous confidence in our chances. The 5th man was our third sophomore finisher George Willer. George ran an outstanding race to place 26th. His time of 17:02 on the tough 5k was a huge PR and really an inspired race. James Weigel ran well to place 28th in what turned out to be the race that gave us the 2nd place finish. We ultimately tied with Plainfield South with exactly 86 points, however, were awarded 2nd place based on our 6th man beating their 6th man (in fact, a major factor in our finish was that he was actually in before their 5th and Plainfield North’s 4th runner). Luke LaLonde was our final finisher in 44th. Luke was in great position mid-race but faded a bit over the last mile but overall ran a solid race.
After the last two weekends of racing, confidence is high but certainly in check. We’ll head to Midloathian Meadows Forest Preserve for a chance to make it to Peoria. The meet will be tough with multiple nationally ranked teams in DGN and Lyons Township up front, Hinsdale Central and Sandburg (the last two state champs), along with us, the pair of Plainfield schools, and Oak Park River Forest vying for only 5 coveted spots to the state championships. As some of the boys mentioned on Saturday… it’s going to be a long school-week waiting for this race. The boys and coaches couldn’t be more excited for this tremendous opportunity to compete and give our very best. As a few parents even noticed and remarked though, our team is looking ready to do some great things!!!
Go Mustangs! (and Cubs!)