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Boys Cross Country: Eagles land in fourth in Class 3A

XC Sandburg

Sandburg twins Ben (2351) and Will Giblin (2352) chase the leaders in the 3A boys cross country championship Nov. 9 at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Photo by Tim Cronin

By Tim Cronin
Correspondent

PEORIA – The bus ride home may have been a reflective one for Sandburg’s boys cross country team.

One more runner passed here or there, around the tree near the finish line or over the bridge to the North 40 – by any of the top five runners – and the Eagles would have needed to make room on the bus for one more item: a trophy.

Instead, the trip was likely weighed down, at least for a time, with thoughts of what might have been.

While Hersey’s Josh Methner was shattering the individual track record, the Eagles took fourth place in the IHSA Class 3A team championship, scoring 156 points – just behind third-place York’s 153. The Dukes grabbed the last of the three trophies on offer at in the 50th anniversary race at Detweiller Park.

St. Charles East won the race on a fast track with 64 points to conference rival and runner-up Wheaton Warrenville South’s 68.

“It doesn’t change how I feel about the guys,” coach John O’Malley said. “We have a motto: ‘Trophies gather dust.’ We say it when we win state, and we say it when we’re just short of a trophy. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

“For them, I know it’s going to sting, because you’re going to replay the straightaway, and ‘one more guy,’ and all that kind of stuff. But they fought with all their hearts and that’s all you can ask for.”

As usual, the Giblins led the way for Sandburg, with Will Giblin taking ninth in 14:34.64 and twin brother Ben in 11th (14:34.88), with York’s Daniel Klysh between them in a four-man gaggle that included eighth-place William Hauenstein of Wheaton Warrenville South.

With a pair of non-team runners ahead of them, their spots counted for seventh and ninth in the scoring. Klysh was the only York runner in the top 30.

However, while the Eagles had a lower total time for their five scoring runners, 1:14:37.86 to York’s 1:14:48.17, it’s the placings that add up, and there the Dukes prevailed. Going 8-33-34-38-40 carried the day, in comparison to Sandburg’s 7-9-28-42-70.

“It’s hard to have everyone hit a home run, and today, you had to hit a home run,” O’Malley said. “Some of them ran beyond what I could have expected, two kids were below average. You’ve got the typical state meet, some with positive tears and some with others.

“We had an aggressive race plan and they got caught in the fastest race in history.”

The Giblins finished about where the “experts” expected them. Sam Rodriguez took 40th for 28 points in 14:56.66, with Ismail Tineh 58th for 42 points in 15:09.45, and T.J. Cosler 92nd for 70 points in 15:22.23. The Eagles’ gap from their first to fifth runner was just under 48 seconds. York’s was just under 32 seconds.

“The strategy was just to get out hard and just stay there,” Will Giblin said, noting the Eagles’ 2015 title team did the same thing. “Keep hammering away, to not let any guys get through us, not without a fight, at least.”

The scrap with Klysh and Hauenstein lasted through the final stretch.

“Ben started to go, and we both saw two guys pass us,” Will said. “We led them go, then started kicking and tried to get them as best we could.”

Ben Giblin saw it the same way.

“The race felt fast; I opened up in 4:35 and that’s eight seconds faster than I’ve ever opened up,” he said. “We just got after it from there.

“Hauenstein passed me and Klysh finished between us; it was a good battle. It made the race real interesting. It all moves by pretty fast, especially when you’re in the moment.”

All the leaders followed in the considerable wake of Methner, who blazed to victory in a track-record time of 13:49.86, breaking Craig Virgin’s 47-year-old standard of 13:50.6 as the three-time Olympian watched. The crowd roared as Methner pounded up the final hill, the 400-yard climb that has cost so many potential record-breakers over a pair of generations. Old hands gasped and cheered when the record time was announced.
Methner, in defending his 2018 title, ran the first mile in 4:30 and was still fresh as he crossed the finish line 26.35 seconds ahead of runner-up Tyler Cushing of Bolingbrook. Cushing’s time of 14:16.21 would have won eight of the previous 20 3A or AA title races.
O’Malley loved that Methner broke the seemingly unbreakable record. The Eagles coach has coached his share of elite runners during his time in Orland Park.

“Having been behind the scenes on a couple of those attempts, it’s just damn hard,” O’Malley said, recalling Dylan Jacobs’ and Lukas Verzibicas’ efforts. “I always felt it was a bit of an arbitrary record anyway, since the course changed, but now we have a definition. This is what it is.

“It’s hard to get near 14-flat, much less 13:50.”

Other 3A area finishers included Marist’s Thomas Leonard (49th, 15:03.53), Shepard’s Evan Jamrozy (81st, 15:19.82) and Oak Lawn’s Jadon Pirkl (85th, 15:20.57).

In Class 2A, Richards took 21st place with a six-man team, while Brother Rice was 25th of 26 teams. Richards’ David Olmos’ 42nd place in 15:47.32 led the Bulldogs, while Rice’s Eddie Burke was 80th in 16:08.50.

In 1A, Chicago Christian’s Nathanael Rivera was 82nd in 16:14.07.

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