One of the most anticipated XC State meets for XC fans each year is the Illinois State Meet. IL has a very deep and talented history in the sport. This years Meet was no different.4 (!) teams (#3 Naperville North, #5 Elmhurst York, #11 Geneva and #14 Neuqua Valley, the defending State and National Champs) ranked in the top 20 Nationally went head to head ,yes, 4 teams ranked in the top 20 Nation-wide. After 3 miles the Kyle Gibson led Naperville North team edged the Steve Sulkin led York team by the slimmest of margins 84-85. Geneva and Neuqua Valley followed in 3rd and 4th. It must be something to be ranked # 14 in the nation (and defending Nike Team Nationals Champ)and not crack the top 3 in your State Final, but that is the price you pay for competing in a state that has a very stong distance history. I actually feel that even though York lost the meet they can still take the National title. In a race diluted with more elite front-runners the duo of Steve Sulkin and Jordan Hebert both have top 10 potential. We'll see.
The individual race was just as close with Jeff Thode surprising all the pre-meet favorites. Here is the top 10.
1-Jeff Thode-Hoffman Estates (Conant)-14:18
2-Steve Sulkin-Elmhurst (York)-14:19
3-Jordan Hebert-Elmhurst (York)-14:21
4-Kyle Gibson-Naperville (North)-14:23
5-Danny Pawola-Naperville (Neuqua Valley)-14:32
6-Nico Composto-Wilmette (Loyola Acad.)-14:32
7-Zach Dahleen-Orland Park (Sandburg)-14:33
8-Andrew Larsen-Aurora (Marmion Acad.)-14:34
9-David McWilliams-Naperville (North)-14:35
10-Gerardo Perez-Lake Zurich-14:38
Very impressive races in Peoria IL as usual.
A little further down the way, Regional action was getting underway in another perennial XC hotbed, Texas. Region II saw The Woodlands (US # 8, South #1) win yet another team and individual crown. Reed Connor won the race in 14:30 to lead his team to yet another Regional title. You can refer to the entry below for more info on them.The Woodlands Girls team also pulled the same feat off with individual winner Sarah Andrews leading The Woodlands to the Team Title. My eyes were focused on Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock for the Region 1 meet. Super Soph. Craig Lutz (Lewisville Marcus) beat veteran CJ Brown (Southlake Carroll) 14:59-15:13. Lutz joins Colby Lowe (Southlake Carroll) and Bobby Aguirre (El Paso Riverside) as Region 1 Champs as sophomores. Will he win State as a Soph as they did? I'm sure Reed Connor will try to keep him from that.