The 2015 Cross Country season ended today with yet another race hampered by extreme weather and unexpected challenges at the Sectionals meet at Busse Woods. Despite the conditions, however, our two runners ran well and ended their season on a high note! While temperatures hovered in the low 40s, sustained winds and very heavy rain turned the course into a quagmire and would test the limits of even the hardiest and most resilient runners. Michael and Collin represented ZBXC in this race after their achievement of running themselves out of Regionals last Saturday, and they traveled with a full team behind them for support.
By the time the ladies had finished their race, the course was largely stretches of deep, churned mud and, in places, standing water. The winds and rain picked up near the start of the 11:15 race, but Collin and Michael exhibited relaxed and jovial spirits as they warmed up and completed their final pre-race exercises. We noted that the conditions had significantly slowed the ladies' race, but we understood that the conditions would be the same for all runners in the race, and thus it was a great opportunity to challenge ourselves in the trying conditions. With their sweats off at the last second and rain thoroughly drenching their uniforms, our two runners took the line.
At the gun both got out in good form and worked towards the right in the opening 200m. The pack solidified in the first half mile, and when they emerged at the top of the hill, Collin was rolling well in the top dozen with Michael not ten seconds behind him. They dug hard out of the lake stretch and around the sharp turns, but just shy of the mile mark a runner next to Collin lost traction and slid into him, taking Collin down hard. The sharp impact could be felt 20m away as Collin scrambled to recover his glasses and stand amidst the deep pack of runners hurdling him--he sprung quickly to his feet, miraculously having found his glasses, and surged back into the race. He had, unfortunately, lost precious seconds and several dozen positions in the collision, but he made the choice to resume with a vengeance. He joined Michael and pushed hard into his second mile.
The final loop saw a tiring field slow with the mud and miserable traction, with the entire field of runners turned to bedraggled, brown-painted racers. Collin and Michael both had great finishing kicks! Collin pushed hard for his 16:50 finish, with Michael close behind at 17:09. Overall, the race was slowed by at least a minute, but still was excellent competition. Collin's collision was unavoidable and disastrous, but not something he could control--his admirable recovery and fiery second half were very memorable! Michael's very personal battle against an elbow-throwing aggressor also influenced his race, and both athletes ran very well in the conditions they were given. It was not the day we had hoped and prepared for, but I am so very proud of both, and of the long journey that has taken them--and this team--this far! These young leaders have several seasons ahead to continue to lead the team and hone their craft, and they will be able to translate this experience into their future races. The full team that came to Schaumburg to support them speaks to the incredible pack forged this year. This team will keep moving forward with the leadership, hard work, and camaraderie that they continue to develop!
Saturday's Regionals race at Lake Forest proved to be an excellent race day for ZBXC, but unfortunately the team fell just short of our goal of reaching Sectionals as a team. We did, however, qualify two men to the Sectional competition: Michael Schonter and Collin Luell!
With strong winds and clouds intermittently spitting small raindrops, we faced off against eight other teams. We needed to be in the top six to advance. Our Varsity seven were Collin, Michael, Bradley, John, Joseph, Frederick, and Sergio; all looked prepared and focused for the race ahead as they took the line in box #2, sandwiched in between Mundelein and Round Lake. At the gun, they got out in great form and were soon off in the first mile loop around the soccer fields. There were some swampy parts, but it was a fast mile for the pack. Collin ranged up in the top ten, with Michael and Sergio not far behind. Michael sported a fresh haircut today, with ZBXC emblazoned on the left side. I told the pack that they needed to race close enough to ready his head.
The second mile was a tougher one and the pack began to string out. Our runners ran smartly but against the stiff wind, with Sergio closing in toward Michael as our third man, with John and Joseph not far behind. Frederick and Bradley looked good in the second half, and worked aggressively. Collin sprinted hard for a 7th place finish and 15:35 time, with Michael narrowly beating a Warren runner into the chute as our second finisher and 31st overall (16:28). It was a nicely run but tough Varsity race, and Varsity placed 7th, narrowly losing the final Sectionals berth to Lake Forest.
We had the opportunity to run a coed Open race again this year, and we put most of the team on the line for one final opportunity to race this season. I was very impressed by their resolved and excitement, and they surged forward in good form. Kenneth led our pack for the entire race and looked the at the top of his game as he picked off opponents. Unfortunately three runners developed sickness and pain, with Jack getting sick on the course and Chrisjon and Joshua racing holding their sides. K-Man finished as our first man for a great 8s PR 17:43, followed closely by the best race of Nate's life too. Nate earned a 6s PR and 17:48 finishing time! Joshua crossed in obvious pain but with a fantastic kick at 18:10. Zack was next across the line with a 3s PR (18:32), followed closely by Warren at 18:49. Lance broke into the 18s with a 14s PR (18:53), with Chrisjon following at 19:20 and Alex at 19:25. T-Bone finished in great form at 20:11, followed by Jack (20:50) and T-Bomb's 3-mile race return and 3s lifetime PR 21:32! Nathan finished at 22:50, followed by Austin at 24:02--for Austin this is a 69s PR over his huge achievement at Conference last week!
We set six lifetime PRs today, no easy feat in the conditions, but this peaks the dedication of this pack. Though the Open race was an unofficial competition, this team committed to running all week and continued to progress in so many ways. I am very proud of their teamwork and support for each other, and these are essential markers to remember the spirit of this season by. This next week we will practice hard and push Michael and Collin to greatness in the Sectional race at Busse Woods.
Race Car Rally 10.20.15
Our Frosh-Soph pack journeyed to Willow Stream Park in Buffalo Grove today for the annual Race Car Rally meet, a 2-mile adventure that includes a mascot race and a great opportunity to earn major awards--Hot Wheels Cars! In the last two years, Sergio and Collin have both placed in races and won these distinguished accolades. Today we had four runners in each race.
We left in a severe thunderstorm but the weather brightened south of Gurnee and turned into perfect racing weather at the course. Our Freshman pack ran first and came off the line competing hard. Avedis and Lance led the ZB pack at the mile, splitting at an even 6-flat, with T-Bone and Jack not far behind. Lance rounded the final 400 in good form and crossed as the first Zee Bee with a nice time of 11:57! Avedis was close behind at 12:33, with Jack having an impressive race and 12:45 finish. T-Bone finished at 13:17 with a great kick as well. While we didn't have enough runners to place as a team, these young men ran very well tonight and should be proud!
The sophomores ran next and came out just as aggressively as the freshmen! Collin pushed hard and away from the top pack for a substantial lead that, at .75 mi, had him 150m ahead of the 2nd place runner. Zack came out in good form in this race as well, with Alex not far behind him. Trysten "T-Bomb" returned for his first race since the Warren Tri, and raced with passion. Unfortunately, Collin missed a flag in the middle of his second mile and had to turn back and repeat a section, but he still burst out of the treeline with 800m to go in the lead, though with closer competitors. He opened up well in the final stretch and finished with a very respectable 10:26 and first-place win. Congratulations Collin! Zack had a great kick for an 11:49 finish, with Alex finishing nicely at 12:21. T-Bomb rolled in with a nice 13:51--a great return to racing this season.
We were proud to see Collin take the winner's stand and earn not only a Batmobile race car, but the winner's Green Flannel! This is the first time a Zee Bee has had this honor, and this is a another fantastic accomplishment in his young racing career. Tonight I watched our young runners fight hard and race nicely, and work together with a sense of teamwork and cohesion that they have forged this entire season. This pack is the future of the team, and they are growing and evolving in the role each day. Keep up the good work!
n the Today was, by far, one of the greatest meets we've raced this season. We found ourselves back at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda for our final (fourth for many of the men) time this season and racing on the morning with the season's first frost. The weather, while chilly and moderately windy, began to warm as the race day progressed. This was no hindrance, however, as our men raced with zeal and strength in the day's three men's races. I had asked the men for three outcomes: 1.) trust in your experience and in your team; 2.) run stupidly and take risks; and 3.) bring the fire. Our men did all three and ran very well today!
The Varsity men ran first, with Bradley, Frederick, Collin, Joseph, John, Sergio, and Michael representing our pack. The day was still very cool as they peeled off their warm-ups, but they looked incredibly focused as they debuted their bring yellow varsity uniforms for the first time this season. Other teams and coaches took notice as well, and with the starting gun this pack set off to make their mark in the Conference. Collin and Michael pushed hard in the front 20, with Sergio racing hard as our third man for the entire race. Frederick, John, and Joseph locked together with Bradley close behind at the mile mark. Sergio extended well in the second half, with Frederick putting a lead over Joseph. John was only one runner behind Joseph with 400m to go. All runners opened up nicely in this final stride. Bradley and Sergio both opened up in particularly aggressive final strides, and these would pay off handsomely for their times. All-Conference Honors were earned as Collin finished in 9th place overall, earning a medal and 2-second PR (15:34), and Michael also earning a medal in 28th place (16:15). Sergio was not far off with a huge PR and his first sub-17 finish (16:52)! Frederick ran as our 4th man with a 14s PR (17:13), with Joseph (17:19), John (17:24), and Bradley (17:47) finishing in close succession. For Bradley this was a 6s PR! Overall, Varsity placed #8/13 teams, ranking above last year's 10th place finish.
The Frosh-Soph pack had the opportunity to race next. The weather had begun to warm nicely and they looked both loose and confident. Alex went out hard and led our pack for most of the race, with Lance not far behind and T-Bone, Kevin, Jack, and Avedis fighting hard from the opening gun. Lance earned a 12s PR (19:07) and finished as our first man just ahead of Alex's mighty kick and a 9s PR (19:10). Avedis ran a nice 20:02 with a second lead over Tristan's 20:03 finish and monster 38s PR, followed by Jack's 5th PR of the season (20:28) and Kevin's 20:46 finishing time that put him only three seconds off of his lifetime best. This pack ran really well today and placed 11th/13 teams.
Our Open/JV race was the last race of the day and delayed by nearly 40 minutes. The men had to warm up a second time, and did so with incredible focus. They displayed great determination at the line and with every stride that they completed--and with the starting gun held nothing back! Kenneth set off at a good pace to lead the pack, but by the time they entered the trees toward the mile mark Joshua had surged to the front of the race with a burst of speed and energy nobody could have remotely predicted! Nate, Rod, and Warren packed up toward the middle, with Nathan, Karl, and Austin competing well in the second half of the pack. Joshua his the halfway point in fourth place overall (!!!), with the rest of our runners also in good form. When Joshua emerged from the woods and into the last 400m, he had fallen back and was clutching his side. Despite the pains of the risks he was taking, he gamely held on for the final stride and finished competing hard for 19th place, a 43s PR, and his first sub-18 finish ever (17:54)! ChrisJon and Nate had advanced hard up to him, with Chrisjon locking in 20th place (17:54) and Nate 21st (17:54) and a 4s PR! All three earned medals today! Kenneth surged in with a great final drive (18:41), followed by Warren and Rod (18:42 each) right on his heels! Karl, Nathan, and Austin fought hard all throughout the race with fire and determination! Nathan overtook Karl for a huge 1:11 PR and 22:37 finishing time, with Karl not far behind at 22:51 for a 1:29 PR and finishing leap of joy as he recognized his accomplishment! Austin surged in with a fantastic final stride for a 4s lifetime best 25:11, beating his record set at Conference last year! Additionally, our runners in this race placed 4th/10 teams, our highest ranking to date! Well done runners!
This was truly an epic and memorable day! We charted 13 lifetime PRs and truly had a remarkable day. The challenge I threw down to these runners was answered far beyond my expectations. We saw two runners earn All-Conference honors and three in the Prairie Lake Invite earn medals! Also, John Cruz was honored today with the NSC Sportsmanship Award, an honor recognizing his omnipresent and unfailing support for his teammates, his dedication to the sport, and his goal of making the team better every day, in every way. Congratulations John!
We have one week until Regionals next week. Our Varsity pack will remain intact as our top seven, but there will again be an Open race for all runners to run in! I have challenged our pack to continue to practice and drive forward together, and I am confident that they will. This is a great team and their cohesion will take them to even greater heights if they maintain their focus this week. Our freshmen will also have a nice opportunity to run at Buffalo Grove's Race Car Rally. Keep moving forward, Bees!
Wheeling Invite 10.10.15
We shifted from AllState to the newly-remodeled Heritage Park for this year's Wheeling Invitational. The park conditions were newly landscape and quite picturesque, featuring a small lake and a hilly back-stretch on the two-loop course. The weather conditions were breezy but hovered comfortably in the high 50s for most of the morning. We ran only in the Varsity and Open races today, since the Wheeling F-S race is a shorter distance and not one we are accustomed to racing.
The Varsity led off today for ZBXC with a decidedly poor start. The starter made no announcements, instead firing the starting gun while the line was still getting situated and set. This was a conquerable setback, though, and the race sorted itself out quickly. Lake Zurich, Huntley, and Highland Park led off in the top pack with authority, and Collin jumped in with them for the first mile, but after the first half of the race our runners found themselves farther back in the Varsity race than we usually run. Collin earned a 17th place overall finish (16:02) and a medal. Congratulations Collin! Michael was our next runner at 48th place (16:56), with Frederick surging forward to lock in our 3rd place finish (17:43). Sergio (18:09), John (18:18), and Joseph (18:20) finished in close succession, with the balance of the pack comprising Nate (18:31), Chrisjon (18:47), and Kenneth (19:46). Overall, Varsity placed 13th out of 17 teams.
I spoke with the runners in the Open race and asked them to "bring some fire" in this race, and run with the lessons learned from watching previous races in mind. I was not disappointed! Bradley led the ZB pack with heart, pushing ahead and finishing with a glorious stride over the final 400m and into the chute. He ran 32nd place, just narrowly missing a medal, and ran our 7th-fastest time of the day with 18:21. Rod was next in 55th place (18:50), with a nice open stride as well; Zack competed well and beat a Huntley runner into the chute by .2 second for a 19:17 finish. Lance (19:29) pulled ahead of Warren (19:47) in the second half, and our next runners were Avedis (21:18), Kevin (21:22), T-Bone (21:28), and Jack (21:44). Nathan finished at 24:24, Karl just behind him at 24:30, and Austin earned a season PR (and our team's sole PR time) with a nice kick and 26:36 finish! Congratulations Austin! The Open team finished 11th out of 16 teams.
In summary, it was not the race day that we had hoped nor prepared for. There may have been a variety of environmental factors at play, but we have adapted well all season--simply put, we did not enter into the competition with the right mindset and focus. We had a good conversation on the bus about retooling and reinventing for this next week leading up to Conference. These runners are good at taking their experiences and growing from them while moving forward, and I am confident that a renewed focus this week will pay off next Saturday as we return to Wauconda for the meet.
Gettysburg! The 150-year-old battle cry swept across the fields at Shiloh Park once more as the Zee Bees squared off against Antioch and Stevenson this afternoon. With temperatures comfortably settling at 60 degrees and fortified with a hunger to defend their home course, the Bees stayed warm through a long race delay and looked great as they assembled against the two visiting teams. We had talked about turning points and defending our home turf, drawing extensive parallels to the northernmost battle in the American Civil War, in which strategic planning and fierce fighting won out over numerical advantages. The Bees fought hard today!
Though Stevenson did not run their top pack, we still had many good runners and a large Antioch pack to contend with. Collin and Michael took an early and substantial lead, with Collin pulling away after the first mile and the Zee Bees working hard around the 3-mile course. I asked for a hard 800m stride somewhere on the course, and I saw a lot of good movement in the woods as the Bees navigated the terrain with a confidence instilled with many tempo runs in those very woods. They did a great job as well in breaking up the final mile into 400m segments.
Collin finished first, matching his previous time on this course (15:56) exactly, no small feat considering he ran solo for the last two miles. Michael worked hard to finish as our second man (16:50), also exactly matching his previous time--this shows great consistency in both runners! Out next pack had a real fight on their hands in the final 800m. Joseph finished as our #3 (17:02) for a 7s lifetime PR, followed by Sergio (17:08) and John (17:15) with a 2-second PR over his Peoria time! Frederick ran a gutsy 17:40, followed closely by Chrisjon's 30s PR (17:45) and Kenneth's 7s PR (17:51). For Chrisjon this was his first break into 17 minutes and a great achievement for both! Nate wasn't far behind them with a very nice kick (18:04), with Rod (18:28), Zack (18:35), Bradley (18:48), and Warren (18:52) finishing in close proximity. For Zack this was a nice 9s PR and a good return after a period of injury recovery!
Our next pack was led by Alex, who ran a monster 61s PR for a time of 19:19! Avedis was just behind him at 19:34 with Lance just seconds behind him (19:39). Kevin had an incredible finish for a huge 46s PR (20:43), with Tristan "T-Bone" Fitzgerald just a half stride behind him at 20:44 and Jack surging in with great strength for a 63s PR and 20:53 finishing time! Nathan led our last pack with a fantastic final 400m kick, earning a 23:49 finishing time--a PR of 1:53! Karl was just behind him at 24:22, earning himself a 27s lifetime best, and Austin competed well right into the chute at 28-flat.
Today we charted 10 lifetime PRs and beat both Antioch and Stevenson! The exuberance and raw energy at the finish line as each Zee Bee runner surged in was matched by the fire seen in the race. These runners ran hard--and most importantly the ran smartly--and brought home two wins tonight! I am so incredibly proud of them! This marks an important event in the history of our season, and proved both a memorable and rewarding evening. The kicks were solid, and there was a general push to take risks and for the entire team to run outside their comfort zones. This is not an easy course with all of its turns, but their strength and smart running paid off in spades. What a great night, and what nice progress!
LZ Dual 9.28.15
We journeyed once more to Wauconda's Lakewood Forest Preserve tonight to dual with Lake Forest and Lake Zurich. The air was getting cooler but the team was in good shape and, after having a nice rest and training period, ready to go out and fight against two difficult teams. This would be our third visit to the course this season, and we will be returning for Conference before the season is over. This afternoon was a good opportunity to apply our knowledge of the course and improve ourselves by running with two fast teams.
We got out in good position with the gun, with Collin settling in with a LZ pack and the Zee Bees packed close behind in the first mile. The runners went out harder than previous races, but had a tougher second half as they had challenges sustaining this pace. LZ ran their top pack at tempo pace for the first mile, and turned up the heat at the first mile mark, leaving Collin to trail behind just behind them for much of the race. Our upper pack worked well together, and while this pack held a solid grouping of positions and did not allow competitors in between them, they were not able to advance enough to score against LZ. Lake Forest did not run their top runners today, which allowed us to edge past them in points.
Collin finished first with a respectable 15:56, a nice improvement from his 16:12 here when he ran Lake County. Michael was our second man at 17:08, fighting his hip pain, with Joseph (17:48) fighting in as our #3. Our next pack was dense and did have a really nice collective finish! Sergio led it at 18:11, followed by John (18:16), Bradley (18:20), Nate and K-Man (18:28 each), and Chrisjon (18:33); Joshua brought a great burst of speed to bear and ran in at 18:52! Our next pack consisted of Rod (19:11), Zack (19:24), Avedis (20:14), Alex (20:20), and Lance (20:33). Our pack was rounded off by Kevin (21:42), Jack (22:55), Nathan (25:42), and Karl (27:25). Today Alex earned a 2-second PR, Jack charted a 26-second lifetime best, and Nathan dropped a whopping 1:04! Congratulations gentlemen!
We beat Lake Forest in points, and lost to Lake Zurich today. Overall it was a challenging meet, but it represented a nice reset from the challenge of Grant last week! We are moving in the right direction, and the runners responded by forming into some excellent packs today and adapting together. The next step will be to push these packs forward to new heights--the teamwork and resiliency is there, and we will continue to hone our skills with each new contest. This next week we return to our home course for another shot at greatness!
JT Invite (Grant) 9.26.15
The weather was perfect for our meet at Camp Henry Horner, where Grant hosted its annual JT Invitational. We haven't gone to this invite since 2011, and this year we were fortunate to add it back into our schedule where we used to have Palatine. With temperatures in the low 60s and a warm morning sun, the conditions were fantastic; we had an equally great week training on hills for those at Grant. Unfortunately we were not fully able to capitalize on this training and apply it to our races, but we did come away with some important lessons.
The Frosh-Soph pack led the day's men's races. We had seven men on the line, and they blasted off in great formation at the gun, each running hard and getting around the first turn in good order. At the mile Zack was leading our pack, with Avedis and Alex working shoulder-to-shoulder close behind. Tristan "T-Bone" and Lance were just behind, with Kevin and Jack not far off. They worked well on the corners, passing many runners with our "15-steps" strategy. It was great to see it applied so well! They also had nice kicks, up the hill and down into the finish in the last 400m. Zack led the pack to the finish, taking 30th place (20:00) and showing vast improvement over his last several weeks of training! Avedis was our next runner at 20:50, with Alex sprinting in just behind him (20:55). T-Bone (21:34) and Lance (21:42) finished in close proximity and three places apart, with Kevin (22:51) and Jack (23:40) rounding off our pack. It was a gutsy and well-run race for these younger guys.
The Varsity ran next, facing off with 18 other teams on the line. While a Woodstock runner took a long lead for most of the race, Collin latched on to the next pack of five and worked hard against them for the entire race. Michael was just seconds behind Collin in the first mile, fading slightly as he entered the latter half of the race. The rest of the Varsity pack was packed closely together, but there were approximately 50 runners between Michael and the 3rd runner for much of the race. Collin had a nice kick but was narrowly passed by a pair of Grayslake Central runners in the last 100m. He earned a nice 7th place finish and a medal (16:25)! Michael had a fantastic sprint to the finish as well, fighting hard in the last steps to best no less than FIVE runners who finished within a second of him. WOW! He earned a medal as well for his 15th place finish and 16:59 time. Congratulations to both these runners!
The rest of the Varsity pack did work to pick up the pace later in the race, but finished starting in 58th place. John led this pack with and 18:27 finish, followed by Sergio at 18:29, Frederick at 18:32, and Joseph at 18:40. Kenneth rounded off the pack at 19:21. Overall our Varsity finished at 7th/19 teams with an average pace of 17:46.
The Open race saw the balance of the men's team take the line, and there were nice races run here. Nate opened the throttle and did not let up, leading our pack with Bradley just behind him. Both kept in touch with the front of the entire field, and it was great to see maroon uniforms in the top echelon! Chrisjon, Joshua, Rod, and Warren worked closely together, and Nathan and Austin raced well just behind this pack. Nate killed the final 400m to lead our pack to the finish for a 9th place finish overall (18:53), and Bradley opened up to earn #11 (18:58). Chrisjon dug deep to advance right up to Bradley and finish just behind in at #12 (19:02); Joshua applied his signature kick for a good race finish (19:52), just ahead of Rod (19:57). Warren sprinted in just behind Rod at 20:15. Austin finished at 29:22, narrowly beating a Carmel runner into the chute, and Nathan ran hard for a 26:16 finish. Nathan had a remarkable race today, charging the hills and, even when he found himself running alone at points, taking hard steps on the corners and working up to pass two Lake Forest Academy runners! He earned the day's sole PR time, dropping NINETY SECONDS from his PR at home earlier this month, a major feat on Grant's course! Congratulations Nathan!
It was wonderful to celebrate Nathan's PR and see Michael and Collin represent ZBXC on the awards stand. Most runners ran 30-45 seconds off of their PRs with consideration to the hills and many turns on the course, but many runners fell into a more comfortable pace when faced with these challenges. I had urged risk-taking this week, and while there were some very nice moves made on the course, we also missed some opportunities. There were some turns left unattended and general feelings of complacency on the difficult course--we need to especially move the Varsity pack closer together to bridge to points gap that saw 43 places between our 2nd and 3rd runners. These are changes that we can make as we travel on Monday back for our third time to Lakewood Forest Preserve to the dual hosted by Lake Zurich. We can exercise our familiarity of the course and channel the past week of strong training into a great race day if we choose to--again this next week, it will require taking risks to make the gains we aspire to. Run hard Bees!
Blue Devil 9.19.15
Our return to Warren for the Blue Devil Invitational made for a very successful racing day! Though the course was saturated, muddy, and flooded in areas, the outstanding weather and great level of competition made for a good opportunity to best our previous times--and the Zee Bee runners did just that!
The Varsity ran first today. We had a couple new faces to the lineup, with Frederick and Chrisjon earning slots in the team's top 7. The Bees got out in good position, with Collin working on the lead pack in the first mile and Warren's Macuiba taking a substantial lead on the entire field again. Michael unwrapped his hip at the last moment but ran himself in the top 30 for much of the race. Joseph faded back after the first mile, with Sergio taking our #3 position and John advancing in the second half to our #4. Frederick looked especially good, and with a conservative first half he turned up the tempo on his last loop. Chrisjon ran well in his first Varsity race too, rolling with the pack. Collin fought well through the muddy finish stretch for a 7th place trophy and 2s PR (15:36)! Michael had a great stride too, earning a medal for 34th place and a 7s PR (16:09)! Sergio advanced to be our #3 today, shaving 15s off his best from Peoria with a 17:07 finish. John was next at 17:21, followed by Frederick's stunning 32s PR finish (17:27)! Joseph finished at 17:31, with Chrisjon running in at 18:15 to tie his lifetime best. This was a nice Varsity race, earning us 8th place overall out of 24 teams, our 2nd highest placing in this meet, with a 16:44 average for our top five runners.
The Frosh-Soph pack ran next, the fourth race on a course that was becoming more and more chewed up with each race on it. Firm ground was quickly devolving into quagmire, but the spirit and energy of our young pack made the conditions an adventure. I asked them at the line who was going to lead the pack, to which they answered in unison, "we all are!" These are great guys.
Zack led the pack in the first mile, but appeared to develop a sideache that severely hindered his progress and form. Lance and Avedis worked in close proximity, with Lance advancing to be our #1 runner by the second mile, with Avedis and Zack close behind. Tristan worked well despite a bad bout of sickness this week, with Kevin and Alex close to him; Jack competed in great form just behind them. Lance had a wonderful finish to crack into the 19s, running a 44s PR for a 19:19 finish! Avedis was just behind, also breaking 20 for a 35s PR and 19:28 finishing time. Alex was our #3 man, PRing by a staggering 1:13 (20:22), with Zack rolling in at 20:28 just behind him. Kevin was our #5, with a great finishing sprint that earned a 32s PR and 21:26 finishing time. Tristan worked hard for his 21:56 finish, with Jack charting a 45s PR to finish at 22:26! This was truly a great race for our F-S runners!
The Open race was the last one of the day, running after a delay around noon. The heat had increased but the course was in really poor shape by this point. I challenged the pack to work hard and earn or take back spots on Varsity for the next meet--it was great to see them work together in this race. K-Man took an early lead of our pack in the first half of the race, showing guts and resolve. Bradley looked great too, rolling not far behind Kenneth. Nate held position not far off of Bradley for much of the race despite an aching knee, with Warren and Joshua not far behind. It was neat to see Bradley turn up the tempo in the second half and Nate following his lead, both passing K-Man and finishing through the muck in good form. Bradley (18:01), Nate (18:08), and K-Man (18:15) earned top-50 ribbons in this race, with Rod (18:37) and Joshua (18:37) finishing together as our #4 and #5. Joshua passed seven runners in the last 50m and earned a huge 50s PR! Warren was our last runner, finish just two seconds behind Joshua and Rod (18:39). We ranked 8th/20 teams in the Open, with an average time of 18:19.
This was a great race day. We had ten lifetime PRs set, with Collin and Michael making it onto our Varsity record board at #2 and #7! While it was really only our F-S pack that advanced at our home meet this week, we saw all levels set great times on the course today. A drier course could have made even faster times, but the team worked together through everything and emerged successful. We were proud to see Collin earn a trophy today, and very proud of the many successes of the day.
We have a full week of training until we run again at the JT Invite at Grant, and hopefully can shake the sickness and injuries by then. The focus of this next week is risk. As we talked about on the bus ride home, Grant's course isn't easy--it is easy to psych oneself out before even taking the line. There are some uphills, turns, and downhills; there are woodchip trails and gravel roads. A runner who embraces these and steps out of their comfort zone will be successful--we cannot rest on the weekend's great accomplishments and dial back when a race gets uncomfortable. Runners--take risks this week in training, and believe that these risks will pay off in our upcoming competitions! Keep the momentum going Bees!
Home v. Libertyville 9.16.15
Our first home meet of the year proved to be a great evening for racing! The downside of the week is that we had nearly a dozen runners sick or injured, which would limit our performance in the race against Libertyville. It was also our first time electronically scoring a meet, and in the hassle of setup our runners make everything happen and helped out immensely!
While our race official did not show up tonight, our Athletic Director stepped in and started the races. The men ran after the women's race concluded. I challenged them to see every orange jersey as a number and a scoring opportunity, and to break up the Libertyville packs to challenge them for every place. It was tough to face off against more than three times our number, but this is how it was today.
Collin took off and raced Libertyville's Alex Tam for the entire race. Michael, Sergio, and Joseph ran as our next runners, with each having two or more competitors packed up on them. Tam had a good finish, pulling ahead of Collin in the last mile for the win. Collin ran a respectable 15:56 for the #2 position, with Michael fighting his hip pain for the #4 spot and 16:50 time. Two more competitors slipped ahead of Sergio (17:29) and Joseph (17:33), and three more in between them and John (17:56) to seal the meet's win for Libertyville. Frederick finished with a nice sprint as our 6th man (18:04), with Chrisjon's excellent and gutsy race earning him the #7 spot with a 18:15 finish, just ahead of Bradley (18:26) and Nate (18:46). For Chrisjon this was a splendid 44s PR!
The younger pack saw great success tonight. Joshua ran a fantastic PR with yet another finish for the books, passing no less than six competitors in the final 100m. He ran 19:27 for a 42s PR! Lance was next with a 27s PR and 20:03 finish, with Warren staggering on his heels (20:09) and nearly collapsing from sickness. Avedis rolled in well at 20:33, with Tristan close behind (20:41) and a 12s PR! Alex earned a nice 6s PR (21:35), followed by Josue's 9s lifetime best (21:52). Kevin followed this excellent PR trend with a 36s lifetime PR (21:58), with Jack charting yet another huge PR this week, this time by 30s (23:21). Nathan was our final runner, competing very well over the course for a 3s PR and excellent finish!
While we did not win tonight, we saw some nice successes. Our F-S pack is getting stronger in every meet, and only part of this is shown in the numbers--we had 8 lifetime PRs on the team tonight, with none of them at the Varsity level. These young men have learned how to compete, and came out tonight with great mindset and hunger for defending their home course. I am very proud! We simply did not get enough ranks at the top level tonight to win, and while we might have been able to do this on another day, it was the race that we ran today. We must continue to shore up and solidify our racing packs if we hope to beat teams with larger numbers than us, and I know that we can do it. Missing seven runners tonight was a blow as well, but this is a meet that we must learn from. We have one more chance this season to defend this home course!
I am very pleased as well to report that we have two runners enter the Top 10 ranks for Shiloh! Collin entered at #4, tying the time of Isaac Murray from 2013. Michael ran to the #8 spot, edging out Tim Athans and Angel Arroyo. Trever DuBois and Kenneth Caples were bumped from the board tonight. Nice work gentlemen! Now the entire board is sub-17. Lance also ran into the Top 10 Freshmen, claiming the #9 spot! Congratulations gentlemen!
I must extend a huge thank-you to our team's parents! Tonight they volunteered to organize, set up, and run a concession stand at the meet to benefit ZBXC. Thank you so much for your ongoing support!
We split this weekend with Varsity running at Peoria and our JV and Frosh-Soph packs running at the Wauconda Invitational. Both running events proved to be excellent in competition level and produced many Personal Records this weekend!
The Wauconda runners traveled with Coach Hughes and ran in the F-S and Open races, with no representation in the Varsity race. The F-S ran first, with Avedis leading our pack (20:12) and Lance (20:30)and Tristan (20:53) finished soon after, with Lance earning a 22s PR and Tristan a PR by 2s! Alex was next into the chute, slicing 25 seconds off of his best from the Warren Tri this week for a 21:41 PR. Josue (22:21) was next, followed by Jack at 23:51--Jack earned a very substantial PR today, beating his time from Lake County by 6:04!!!
Later in the Open race, Chrisjon led our pack in good form to finish just four seconds off of his Deerfield PR with a time of 19:03. Joshua finished next with his signature kick for a 55s PR and 20:09 finishing time! Austin earned a season PR 2ith a 27:17 finish, followed by Nathan's 27:49--Nathan beat his lifetime best by 3:31! Karl rounded off the pack with a season-best 28:02. Nice work runners!
The Peoria group was successful as well! Driving down the night before, they had the opportunity to watch a college Cross Country meet, and then run the course. I also turned them loose in a Kroger Foods grocery store, from which they emerged apparently inspired by the upcoming Halloween holiday. After a good night's sleep and the sharing of team goals, it was time to take the line at Detweiller Park. The premium level of competition was to be expected, and the weather was fantastic, with sunbreaks and a high of 68 degrees. We ran ten runners in the Varsity race and Rod represented ZBXC in the Open.
The Varsity runners were boxed to the far left on the line, and this made the approach to the first turn very difficult--they found themselves boxed in and slowed around the flag despite the best efforts to swing wide into the pack. Collin led our pack with a 15:38 finish and 3-second PR, followed by Michael's gutsy 16:19. Joseph placed as our third with a nice uphill stride for 17:09 and an 11s PR, with John following closely at 17:17 and Sergio at 17:22. Both these athletes earned PRs--John by 6s and Sergio by 2s! Bradley finished at 17:54, just one second off of his Deerfield best, and looked great. Nate and Frederick broke into the 17s for the first time in their lives, with 17:58 and 17:59 finishes respectively, and PRs of 23s and 49s! Warren ran 18:16 for a 3s PR and Kenneth rounded off our pack with a finish time of 18:23. These were some really nice races run in a field of 405 runners. The Zee Bees finished 36th out of 45 teams in the race.
Rod ran last as our solo entrant to the Open Race. He knew that this would be a tough race to run alone, but he took the line with ease and went out well. With recurring injuries he has not seen a peak time since his Deerfield breakthrough, but despite all the factors going against him he looked good in this race. He finished at 19:09 with everything he had, and I am proud of his display of guts and determination to make the most of his racing opportunity.
Overall, this was a remarkable weekend in our team's history. On the two courses we charted 13 lifetime and 2 season PRs! I challenged the runners to reflect on their experiences and growth,and to continue to build our team this next week as we prepare to race on Wednesday at our home course. Keep the momentum going Bees!
Warren Tri 9.8.15
We shifted environmental extremes tonight at the Warren triangular meet between us, Warren, and Mundelein. As the men prepared to run and had finished their run-outs, the skies opened up with driving rain that lasted a mere ten minutes yet so thoroughly soaked the course that the terrain more resembled a swimming meet than a Cross Country race. But through the lengthy rain delay the Zee Bee runners kept their spirits high, embracing the precipitation! Thankfully, however, the gun went off and the men surged forward.
Not three minutes later, a mild rumble announced the presence of lightning in the area, and we had to pull the runners from the course just as they rounded out of the woods at the 800m mark. We went inside for the regulation thirty minutes, and as coaches then decided to re-run the race in the last thirty minutes before dark. We warmed back up in the standing water and mud, but it took great resilience to maintain the spirit and energy from before. Yet, our men fought hard at the sound of the gun and sprung into action.
Warren and Mundelein ran a conservative first half on the saturated course, with Michael, Collin, and Joseph working into the top echelon in the first mile. Warren's Macuiba took a substantial lead, while Collin worked against the Blue Devils' Delgado for much of the race, trading 2-3 positions several times. Collin finished just seconds off of Delgado at 15:54, with Michael proving himself yet again our #2 runner at 16:41 but with two Warren and three Mundelein runners in between him and Collin. Joseph ran well as our third man (17:30), followed by Sergio (17:53) and John (18:03). Bradley (18:14), Kenneth (18:19), Warren (18:32), and Nate (18:32) kicked to the finish in close succession, followed by Frederick (18:41), Chrisjon (18:50), Rod (19:33), and Zack (19:57), the latter two recovering from a week of injury recovery. Abraham (20:35) and Roger (21:39) ran the first races of their careers tonight, and Joshua displayed his signature final sprint for a 21:30 finish. Avedis (21:46), Tristan (21:49), Josue (22:01), Alex (22:06), Trysten (22:23), Kevin (23:34), Austin (27:57), Karl (31:09), and Nathan (31:20) rounded off our pack tonight.
It was a challenging meet, and with the conditions a course that is normally fast turned into something far more challenging. Most of our guys were 15-30s slower than their bests, but Chrisjon earned a 9-second PR, Frederick ran for a 7-second PR, and Josue fought in for a staggering 50-second PR over his time at Deerfield! Alex earned a staggering 1:57 PR against his Deerfield time as well! We also Season Bests from Sergio and Karl. Congratulations runners!
While we have gone from one extreme to the other this week, the runners have stayed in excellent spirits and trained hard despite the conditions. They packed up and made some nice moves tonight, especially in the finishing 400m. Warren and Mundelein beat us in points, but they also had substantially larger numbers of runners to compete with--our team may be small, but they are certainly moving in the right direction and have the composition and character of an experienced pack. This weekend we divided between the Wauconda Invite and First to the Finish at Peoria, both being excellent opportunities to see some great team successes occur.
Lake Co. Invite 9.2.15
The environment was brutal today at the Lake County Invite, held again this year at the Lakewood Forest Preserve and hosted by Wauconda. The temperature lowered to an acceptable 87 degrees with high humidity to punctuate a very hot week of training, but despite the weather conditions we showed up to race. Tonight would prove to be a big trial for the men's team, but nonetheless their spirit of teamwork carried the night.
The Varsity boys ran first. We ran nine men in this race after a last-minute exit by our tenth man; the sun filtered through the haze onto the course with the same hospitality one might expect from embracing a cactus. The Zee Bees took a serious approach as they set at the line, and went out aggressively. Collin settled right in with the lead pack of four, with Michael and Joseph side-by-side as our number two and three as they went into the woods near the mile mark. John and Sergio packed closely together, followed by Bradley, K-Man, Frederick and Warren in the next 100m. The middle mile proved very tough, though, and the outcome saw Collin lose touch with the accelerating top runners, Joseph pass Michael, and Sergio make a nice move that took him in front of John. Collin battled in nicely, barely a second behind a Grayslake runner, to earn a medal and 8th place finish (16:13)! Joseph had a great kick to finish as our second man and fight off a trio of competitors in the final 100m (17:32). Michael fought through a recurring bout of soreness as our third Zee Bee (18:02), followed by a great kick from Sergio (18:25), John (18:32), K-Man (19:38), Bradley (19:52), Warren (20:14), and Frederick (20:54).
The JV Open race was last, and was run co-ed. The temps felt like they had dropped about ten degrees by this time, and the atmosphere felt more comfortable than for the previous races. We put twelve runners on the line, and they all took a serious approach to racing after supporting the Varsity on the course earlier. Chrisjon led out pack the entire race, racing well in what is only the second race of his career. He had a stellar finishing stride for a 19:55 finish. Our freshmen gave a nice account of themselves as well, with their pack led by Avedis (21:03), followed by Tristan (21:49), Lance (22:11), Josue (24:18), and Kevin (24:41). Jack ran his first career race in 29:55 tonight, a nice feat considering he has only trained with us for three days! Joshua ran a gutsy 22:06 with what can only be described as an amazing kick at the end, his acceleration passing nearly a half dozen runners in the final 50m! Trysten logged a nice 22:55, Alex ran 24:11, Austin 28:41, and Karl returned to his ZBXC career with a nice finish and gutsy race as well. It was really nice to see these younger men race and overcome the day's conditions.
The Varsity placed 6/14 tonight with a 2:19 1-5 spread, matching our 6th place (and highest recorded) Varsity finish from 2012! Collin topped the Top 10 chart as our #1 varsity runner on this course, with Joseph taking the 6th and Michael the 9th positions. Congratulations gentlemen!
While the conditions were far from ideal tonight, we exhibited great promise and grit in our run. This team is drawing closer and closer together, and it is great to see them evolve both in camaraderie and in speed. Hopefully this next week's contest at Warren will be cooler, and allow these young me to continue growing and set some nice PR times.
Deerfield Dual 8.27.15
It was a very strong season opener at Deerfield on Thursday night for Zion. With temperatures hovering at a comfortable 70 degrees and with a slight lake breeze, the conditions could not have been more perfect for the first test of the Bees' skills this season. While this is usually run as a JV/FS meet for us, with this meet being scheduled before Lake County this year I decided to run all 22 runners together and on the flat, grassy course at Deerfield High School. Holistically, this would prove the strongest season opening race I have ever seen in my four years of coaching at ZB.
Our men got off the line with authority and confidence. Even our freshmen, who had never run races before, raced with a competitive edge. Collin, Michael, and Joseph got out in the 1-2-3 positions, with a large Deerfield pack right behind them. A strong upper pack of 7 Bees settled in together and raced with each other, led by Sergio and John in the first mile. Zack, Frederick, Avedis, and Chrisjon comprised out second pack, and our others worked against a string of white jerseys not far behind.
After the mile, Collin lengthened his lead on the entire field, with Michael working gamely in 2nd but fighting off Deerfield's top runners. John worked up to Joseph in the second half, with Nate, Bradley, Kenneth, and Warren making some nice gains against Deerfield's runners. It was here that Chrisjon settled in to race with Zack, and I saw some gutsy gains by Josue and Trysten as they entered their third mile. Austin opened his stride nicely as well.
The Bees proved themselves well in the final 800m. With a long loop to the finish, they opened up and raced with great form, setting sights on competitors and working hard all the way into the chute. Collin opened up and won the race with a substantial lead--not only was this his first race victory, but an incredible achievement timewise. His previous best was 17:07 at Conference last year, but this evening he blasted past it for an astounding 15:41 finish! This is a 1:26 PR and tied Philip Meyer's 15:41 time from Peoria in 2012, also tying Collin for the #2 rank among the fastest runners in ZBXC history! This was his first entrance to the "15 Club" and an incredible achievement. Congratulations Collin!
Michael displayed an incredibly assertive kick at the end and came in third in the race, just behind DHS's Bickmore. Against a previous best of 17:44 from the Titan 5K and in his first season XC race of his life, he set a 1:28 PR and ran 16:16! This is an incredible achievement for him and a great first step for his season! Deerfield had a pack of 7 runners behind Michael, and Joseph ran in as our third ZB (17:21) for a 36-second Season Best time that is only two seconds off of his lifetime best set at Peoria last year! John had a notable second half and great finish (17:29) for a 1:40 season PR and was just 6 seconds off of his lifetime; Rod advanced with authority into the 17s for the first time in his life for a 1:09 PR and 17:45 finish! Bradley and Kenneth did the same and entered the 17s for the first time! Bradley logged a 17:54 finish and 45s PR, followed by K-Man's 17:58 finish for a 1:19 PR from his best time set at Warren in 2013! Sergio looked great as our next runner, running 18:02 for a 1:08 Season Best. Nate followed at 18:21 (17s PR!), with Warren (18:41, 1:19 Season Best), Zack (18:54, Season Best), and Frederick (18:48 in his first XC race!) following closely behind. Chrisjon (18:59), Avedis (20:04), Josh (21:04), Lance (20:53), Tristan (20:56) Kevin (22:34), and Alex (24:02) also ran the first races of their careers and looked great! Trystan ran a season best 22:07 and Austin logged a strong start to his season with 27:50. Of particular note are the PR times set by our incoming Freshmen from their last race at Bee Linked: Kevin set a 3-mile PR by 3:37, Josue by 3:33, and Tristan by 5:23! WOW!
Overall, we logged 6 first races, 6 Season Bests, and 9 Lifetime PRs. All runners ran well, and worked closely together to achieve some nice times. The way they supported each other and raced smartly is a cohesion usually seen on late-season teams that have "figured it out" over the course of the season--but this year's team has developed this camaraderie early on and I am confident it will serve them well. The hard work put in all summer is just starting to pay off, and it was nice to see them all run with such strength. We did lose in score to Deerfield 24-37, and will need to work on moving that upper pack up to break up the seven DHS runners who ultimately determined the outcome. With our runners setting these nice times early on, there is nothing they cannot accomplish if they maintain the same spirit and hunger for competitive racing as a team. I am incredibly proud of this effort and cannot wait to see them race again on Wednesday at Lake County!
A Great Beginning
The official start of the season is but a day away and I find myself overwhelmed with the excitement of this new beginning. In a broader scope, however, the season began with the conclusion of Track and has been going in great form all summer long. The conclusion of Summer Endurance Camp is a milestone for our dedicated men and women who committed to honing their craft through the heat, humidity, and uncharacteristically wet summer. Their many achievements are worthy of celebration.
While our numbers were lower this summer than summers past, the cohesion and dedication of the men's team created a unique and solid pack. Tristan and Kevin are the incoming freshmen who joined us for their second summer, and both have never looked better. Over the course of the summer they extended their long runs to seven miles (!) and have been running lifetime mile and tempo paces! We had a pack of nine returners consistently running together as well. Coming into the summer at a variety of fitness and wellness levels, they chose to form into a pack and run together all summer long. This is a change I usually facilitate at Oshkosh, but they worked hard to unite as a unit well before then. Running with them, I am struck by how well they work together, encourage each other, and seek to make each other better. I could ask for no more from this great summer team!
Bee Linked was a high point in the summer. We ran it a week earlier in July than usual, but a week's less training did not hamper some fast times. Michael ran a full 3.5 minutes faster than last year; Kevin and Tristan also set lifetime bests. Joseph and Michael both ran sub-18, Bradley set a lifetime PR, and Kenneth closed to within 10 seconds of his PR set in 2013! The race itself was successful in both performance and process, as we had so many people pitching in to make it all go smoothly. It was wonderful to see alumni runners competing, including Desmond, David, Daniel, Kenneth C., and Noel.
Oshkosh was the summer's bookend. From camping at Devil's Lake, WI on the first night to our final race in the Titan 5k, the team made the most of it and had a blast! By pulling together and pack running over the summer, the men were in great shape for the rigorous team-oriented training. In climbing mountains, daily shakeout runs, tempo workouts, and in the long run they worked very well together. We had a fantastic Garbage Hill Relay workout with St. Ignatius Prep, preformed the best South Park PPM I've ever seen, enjoyed an afternoon with UWO's Coach McKenna, and then came together in great fashion for a memorable DMR workout! They also pushed themselves and each other on the half-marathon distance long run, The very next day tired and achy bodies were ignored as the men ran very well in the Titan 5k. Collin ran his first sub-17 3-mile time with a 17:14 overall and 6th place finish. Michael was just behind him in 8th place (17:44), followed by Joseph (18:19), John (19:09), Rod (19:50), Bradley (20:35), and Kenneth (20:50). Not bad for an 85-mile week!
In the week off the runners have organized and charged themselves with continuing their training. I am confident this will be a smooth transition as they hit the ground running in formal practices. I am very proud of their commitment and hard work this summer, and am very excited to see what will be accomplished this year!
1. 15:34 Collin Luell @Conference
2. 16:09 Michael Schonter @Blue Devil
3. 16:47 Sergio Vargas @Conference
1. 17:43 Kenneth Tolliver @Regionals
2. 17:45 ChrisJon Willis @Home 10.5
3. 17:54 Joshua Lincicome @Conference
1. 18:325 Zack Vandreese @Regionals
2. 18:53 Lance Storey @Regionals
3. 19:10 Alex Garcia @Conference