Mike Kuharic Invitational Recap

Monday, September 9 2019

Saturday was a fun way to kick of the invitational portion of the season as we traveled to Lyons Township for the Mike Kuharic Invitational. The weather was a marked contrast from a year ago when we drove there only to spend hours in the fieldhouse waiting before ultimately the meet was cancelled due to storms. It was a beautiful day for Cross Country and we took full advantage. Over the whole of the day, we learned valuable lessons as a team, had some very positive moments, and enjoyed our time and had fun together.

Things opened up with the JV race at 8:30. Our team battled to an excellent team finish of 3rd out of 16 teams behind perennial powerhouse programs Sandburg and Lyons Township. Sandburg scored an impressive 32 points with 5 runners in the top 10, while LT had 56 to our 78 points. The closest team after that had 146 in Maine South. Jay Wiseman ran the race we’ve been looking forward to based on his progress in workouts. He led us with an impressive 9th place finish in 16:56 out of the field of 200 finishers. Close behind was Carlos Mendez who ran very well to finish 11th. Nick Novotny was 14th, while Caleb DeBoer and Axel Huerta rounded out the scoring for DGS placing 21st and 23rd. Illustrative of our depth, we had 10 of the top 42 in the race.

The next race on the docket was the Varsity race. We entered as the 3rd best team in state ranking but walked away as the 4th finishers on the day. Sandburg dominated the competition with an excellent race that saw all 7 of their runners in the top 20. Lyons Township was 2nd followed closely by a Maine South team that ran exceptionally well and should move drastically up the rankings. DGS was a bit off on the day and put together far from our best effort. Fortunately, in XC, not much is truly won or lost in September and one’s record from week to week matters infinitely less than running well when it counts most… which is late October and November. While we may have had a slightly disappointing team finish, we did have a couple really bright spots. John Heneghan ran well to place 10th in a very tough field. Heneghan posted a very solid 15:22 for 3 miles, which shows he’s in a much better spot than he was a year ago when he went on to run 15:00 multiple times. Tyler Bleau had a great race as our #3 runner finishing in 26th place with a new personal best of 16:19. He’ll look to run under 16 minutes in the coming week when we travel to Peoria. Also stepping up and running particularly tough was Stephen Nicholson who gutted out a tough race to be our #4 on the day.

The third race of the morning was the freshman race. This is always a really exciting one as it’s our first opportunity to see how our freshmen squad stacks up against a field of their peers. Matching our best finish ever at the frosh level, our boys ran tough to place 3rd. Jeffrey Spirek ran great and battled with the lead pack for the entirety of the race and ultimately placed 3rd overall. Shane Hosty moved up brilliantly throughout the race to finish 16th just in front of Carter Smott in 19th. Nolan Crooks (who started the summer as a 7+ minute miler) covered the 2.2 mile course in 12:54 for 28th, showing that his hard work is clearly paying off. Our 5th runner and final scorer was Henry Rotunno who clocked a 13:12 time in 42nd.

The final race of the day quickly seemed like a dual meet between DGS and Sandburg. In the end they got the best of us 37-58 as the two teams combined for 11 of the first 17 finishers. Soccer convert Tim Neumann was a part of a fantastic battle for the individual win that came down to the final 200 meters. He didn’t have quite enough in the tank this time to pull of the win, but ran incredible to place 3rd in a personal best of 16:10. He’ll run varsity for the first time this coming week in Peoria. Joey Puccillo looked tough in his 10th place finish while teammates Nick Motuelle and Michael Joseph worked well together to finish 13-14. Our 5th and final scorer was Dean Spicuzza who has been on a tear since the summer began as he dipped under 18 minutes for the first time running a 17:41 for 17th place.

Overall, it was a fine day to be at a Cross Country meet and like every day, it was a great day to be a Mustang. Our next opportunity will be this coming Saturday as we travel to the State Finals course at Detweiler Park in Peoria for the First to the Finish Invitational where we will get to race a challenging field of 40+ schools.