This past weekend brought us one of the most anticipated XC meets in quite some time. The Illinois State Meet. The 3a Boys race did not disappoint. On the individual side, all eyes were on the match up of Lukas Verzbicas and Jack Driggs. The team race figured to come down to York, Neuqua Valley and New Trier. The main question of the day was, would Lukas get Craig Virgin's long storied course record of 13:50? With Virgin on hand riding in the pace truck, all eyes were on Lukas from the gun. Driggs was the only runner game enough to go with him through the 1/2 mile mark before a 4:28ish mile split started putting a little distance between the two. After crossing 2 miles in roughly 9:10 Lukas had built close to a 100 meter lead. The race was his however he fell just short at 1354. That time will go down as the #3 time ever at Detweiller behind only Virgin and Chris Derrick (13:52).
(below, Verzbicas, Virgin and Derrick, photo credit unknown)
It was a run for the ages but the fun didn't stop there. With York trying to win a 27th team title, #2 runner Ron Hedman was disqualified for physical contact with another runner. It has been speculated that it was everything from shoving to a punch in the face. I don't know for certain. Fortunately York's #6 stepped up and the team narrowly beat surprise team Lake Zurich by a 2 point margin to get a record 27th title for Coach Joe Newton.
The 2a race had some great races as well. Woodstock senior Kayla Beattie set a course record of 16:22 in a 49 second win. The boys from Belvidere North set a 2a record low of 28 points. In fact, if you plug BN's times into the 3a race, BN would have beaten York. Can they beat York head to head? We will find out this weekend.
This Sunday in Terre Haute, IN is the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) Midwest Regional. Lukas is apparently going for the FootLocker, NXN double and will be there with the rest of his Sandburg team. Jack Driggs will bring his York team looking to continue the streak of being the only team to qualify for every NXN National meet since the inception. York will be tested not only by Lake Zurich and Belvidere North, but also the top ranked team this year in the Midwest, Columbus North of Indiana. Don't forget New Trier, Naperville Neuqua Valley and early season favorite Oak Park-River Forest.
The team race should be amazing. Lukas will be favored to win the boys race and his expected competion will come from Driggs and the Ohio stars Zach Wills and Michael Brajdic. Wills was 5th at the NXN National Meet last year and Brajdic just broke Bob Kennedy's Ohio State Meet record. The only name absent appears to be Futsum Zeinasellassie who looks to be going only to FootLocker.
The same weekend the Texas State Meet will get underway with defending NXN Champion Craig Lutz of Marcus the overwhelming favorite. It would take an upset in the magnitude of Don Knott's knocking out Mike Tyson for anyone to beat Lutz in Texas this year. This was solidified by a 55 second victory on a slightly revamped Mae Simmons course. Who did he beat by 55 seconds? Only last years 5th place finisher at the State Meet and The Harrier pre-season All American, Donovan Torres of Lubbock Coronado. Lutz's Marcus team soundly beat favorite Southlake Carroll 33-68 for good measure.
Plano's Rachel Johnson should run away with the girls title as well. In 4a both El Paso Austin and Jefferson should contend for the title. Austin has one of, if not the, best 1-2 combo in the state with Isaac Spencer and Ramon Garcia, while Jefferson brings a little more depth. Both have the potential to medal.
A quiet little blurb recently came out of Texas in the news that Chelsey Sveinsson had returned to racing. She appears to still be a ways off form as she placed 6th in the SPC (private school) Meet. She finished in 19:53, about 3 minutes slower than one would expect from her in a 5k. At that rate, I wouldn't look for her until Track season. Hope she returns stronger than ever.