This season taught us a lot. Yes, it’s great to do well at State, but this season reminded us of something so much more important. Personally, I have never enjoyed a season more than this one. I can attribute this to the leadership of our seniors and our amazing coaching staff. I can attribute it to the positive attitude and overall enthusiasm of our athletes as they came to practice each day. I can attribute it to the amazing parents that support us and provide such great opportuntieis for our guys. Peoria Journal Start article Splits Naperville Sun article I think when it got right down to it, we had a hard time believing in our abilities at times. We were 14th at the 1 mile, 14th at the 1.5 mile, 12th at the 2 mile and ended up 7th overall. We ran smart, but if we truly believed in ourselves, I think we would have finished higher even though it seemed hopeless at times. In 2009, we were 12th at 1.5 miles and ended up winning the whole thing. Like 2009, we ran smart, but when we saw a lot of bodies in front of us, some of us looked at it differently.
The bottom line is this team and all it’s stakeholders embraced and acted upon our values like no other team in our history. What more can a coach ask for? Yes, the State performance still stings. Not performing like we would have liked is ‘part of the game’. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I have found that losing also brings greater reflection. With reflection comes celebration of what we do well and what we can do to be better when we actually run the race. In 2006, we placed 9th in the State with two all-staters. This year, we had no all-staters and managed to place 7th. Like 2006, the future looks bright if we put in the work that I know we are motivated to act upon. We return 3 of our top 5 from the State meet. We have a bunch of underclassmen ready to fill the rest of those spots. We have the legacy of this year’s seniors to show us the path to meet our goals. I am proud of this team for their class, integrity, genuine care of others, and selflessness. So, I conclude the 2012 season with a piece Brendan O’Connor, a senior, wrote on his Facebook page. I could not say it better.
In every man’s life there comes a moment when he looks back upon his actions and what he has dedicated himself to and wonders what he will leave behind. What he will be remembered for. Should it be for the glory endowed in cloth and metal? For the grandeur of plaques and trophies? Perhaps so.
However, I have another thought.
Five months ago I sat in a room with men who willingly exposed the greatest flaws in their own character for the hope that we would rise up together as brothers to overcome individual faults and become one of the greatest teams in our history. During that discussion there was never mention of numbers or trophies. The reward was not one of material being, it goes beyond what words can describe. That was the hope that a bunch of boys who saw themselves as goofballs and screw-ups rallied around. This was the hope that carried myself through the deepest despair, the same hope that carried each of my brothers through their own battles.
As I look behind me today, I can say with the utmost sincerity that we achieved that goal long before we stepped up to the state line. I look back and know that we have changed people’s lives. Whether an 8th grader who felt out of place and never realized the greatness he truly carries within him, a sophomore who’s greatest fear of letting his team down displayed the greatest passion of a true leader, or a senior who has marked all of his accomplishments with numbers and medals and trophies only to be left with the greatest reward possible: his friends. I look back and see my own path, at many times foolish, through anger and frustration that masked an underlying confusion of self and purpose, to emerge with absolute conviction in my values and character. I look back and see a team that many may view as the worst to pass through in the past six years of Neuqua’s rise to greatness, a view of people who can only look to numbers and places for answers to questions that go far beyond that.
To those who truly understand, this was one of the greatest teams I have ever known because of the very foundation upon that word: TEAM. These men dedicated themselves to the highest caliber of honor and dignity amongst fellow men, and led with extraordinary selflessness and compassion. We have changed this team for good, and we can walk on with our heads held high and our eyes forward onto greatness that lies ahead. That is what I was proud to represent today, and what I intend to represent for the rest of my days alongside friends who I know will carry the same pride and greatness between our pack of brothers.
This is my legacy. This is OUR legacy. And it will live on forever.
This meet brought back some great memories from 2003. That year, we ran a very poor race at Regionals and went into the Sectional race on this course not knowing what was in store. We ran well, and placed 2nd behind Naperville North, thanks to the great race and fortitude of Nick Dunn. Well, here we were, 9 years later with Nick Dunn now coaching at Oswego High School. We did not run as well as we did that day, but for the 12th year in a row, we qualified for the IHSA State Meet by finishing 3rd at this meet, 3 points behind Plainfield South and only 2 points in front of Carl Sandburg. Congratulations to Lyons Township for their resounding victory. Results Naperville Sun Article Southtown Star Article
As a whole, we did not run the race we planned, but we had some good things happen that we can build on for next week. Brendan, Robbie, and Mike worked well together throughout the race. We will nurse Nick back to health this week and Alekh now knows what he mentally needs to do to be successful. We will look to this Saturday to run our best race of the year.
The fan support at the meet was amazing. We had more guys on our team attend this meet than any post season meet in our history. I am so proud of our guys!
It was a crisp, fall day at Dellwood Park for the IHSA Regional meet. This year, the Regional was run on this course, instead of the Sectional race. Our guys went into the race with the anticipation of some good competition from rising programs like Plainfield South, Oswego, and Plainfield East. We were not disappointed. All three teams ran great races to make it a close finish for the title. We were fortunate enough to come out on top 45-50 over Plainfield South. Results Herald News Article Naperville Sun article Dyetrack.com article NCTV17 broadcast
Junior Nick Bushelle was again our #1 finisher, challenging Dan Lathrop from Plainfield South down the finish to finish 4th overall. Senior Alekh Meka finished close behind the duo in 5th. Our next two guys were underclassmen Connor Horn and Daniel Weiss, both running solid races for their first Regional competition. Recovering from head colds, Seniors Mike Whaley and Robbie Hohlman closed the door to cap off our scoring. Sophomore Max Rainer gained some valuable experience as our 7th man in this race.
A measure of success is the strength by which one finishes this hilly and longer (5k) course. After some pack running for most of the race, our guys finished strong. We came away healthy and look forward to an even more competitive Sectional race next Saturday at Midlothian Meadows.
A huge thank you to all of our parents who worked together to organize a great breakfast for us. We had two bus-loads of fellow teammates also cheering on their teammates. I know our top 7 for this race could feel the positive energy.
It’s hard to believe that a journey begun in the stifling heat of June would end with rain-slicked knolls in biting October, but that’s exactly how we closed our 2012 Conference season. Harder still to believe is the maturation of our seniors, who four years ago began several inches shorter and minutes slower than they finished today. Full Results Daily Herald Article Upstate 8 Conference Results
The meet was a marvel of logistics executed by St. Charles East, who ran a brilliant meet on an abbreviated schedule. We were proud and fortunate to win titles on all three levels, and each victory highlighted the earnest work done by each grade.
Our freshmen ripped off P.R.s by the bunches, with several impressive barriers falling. Connor Horn dropped everyone’s jaw with a 15:25 in the Varsity Race. Aidan Livingston, Shiva and Vishy Singh all broke 17:00; Patrick Conway, Jake Miller, Matt Murray, and Evan Novak easily smashed 18:00; and Michael Block, Peter O’Neill, Jack Pfeiffer, and Ethan Ohlhausen dipped beneath 20:00. Along with typically hard-fought P.R.s by Tommy Kenny, Will Ackerman, and Lukas Weber, the freshmen showed a willingness to step up and replace the outgoing senior class.
The sophomore level highlighted the impressive mettle of some of our hardest workers, led by Dan Weiss’s huge P.R. in the Varsity Race. The relentless Max Rainer came within steps of capturing the Conference title, setting a huge P.R. at 16:03. He was closely trailed by Michael Widdman, Matt Horsley, Grayson Jenkins, and John Stavropoulos, each submitting a season’s best performance. Kellen Shaffer stepped up and suggested that perhaps he’d found his true sport, while the flinty Noah Iarrobino ran the last two miles of the race with one shoe. One of the best races of the day belonged to Chris Sahm, whose growth as a runner is in step with his maturation as a young man of integrity.
Led by Conference Champion Nick Bushelle, our juniors turned heads as well. Alex Monovich ran a tough race in the Open, while Omar Mehio owned the last mile to finish second. Impressive efforts by Alex Pierce and Mac Kiley underscored their resiliency, while Garrett Ginell continued his stunning comeback from a near-season-ending injury. And the steady Matt Hughes ran a near-perfect race, a true demonstration of his overall athleticism.
However, the day truly belonged to the seniors, whose dedication and camaraderie have come to define our team. The trio of Brendon O’Connor, Mike Whaley, and Robbie Hohlman were reliably excellent behind front-runner Alekh Meka, and our 1-5 Varsity split remains a source of pride. Open Champion Rahul Daftari wrote the best ending we could hope for such a hard-working young man, while career best performances by Matt Reynolds, Riley Morrison, Gerard Lamb, Ross Campbell, Dean Gozum, Aaron Dierking and Sean Meehan rewarded their four years of service. Nick Doty and Nathan Knockeart both displayed class and courage, while Noah Loula, Craig Halicki, and Nachi Pai finished their seasons in triumph.
With the Conference Meet behind us, our Top 7 return to the imposing hills of Dellwood for our Regional Meet. Our guys will carry the banner of the entire team, representing the dedication, courage, and hard work of their 138 brothers. It’s all very hard to believe that the journey is entering its final chapters.
If you weren’t there, then no words can possibly describe the extraordinary atmosphere that ran rampant throughout the campus of Neuqua Valley on Wednesday night. If you were there, then you will likely have memories that will last a lifetime. The 2nd Annual Naperville Twilight Invite was, in no uncertain words, a happening!
While storms threatened to dampen the spirit of the colossal event all throughout the day, the rain gods relented and turned their attention elsewhere, allowing hundreds of competitors to experience the sheer excitement of Illinois Cross Country.
The Naperville / Aurora area schools of Naperville Central, Naperville North, Metea Valley, Waubonsie Valley, and Neuqua Valley descended on the southern tip of Naperville, offering their greatest physical efforts and their unrelenting enthusiasm for a sport that has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade.
And on this glorious evening of racing, it was Neuqua Valley who reigned supreme!
When the evening came to its glorious conclusion, all three boys’ races had been claimed individually by Neuqua Valley athletes. Two team trophies were shared by groups of men that continually strive for perfection.
Freshman Vishy Singh became a force to be reckoned with as he won the Frosh / Soph race. Alec Monovich pulled away from his own teammate to claim the Open title. Alekh Meka proved his resilience and fortitude as he opened up a massive lead in the Varsity competition.
The Frosh / Soph squad scored a near-perfect 17 points en route to their victory, placing 5 runners in the top 7 places. The Varsity attained perfection…the top 5 placers were all Neuqua Valley runners.
The competitive fire that was exuded by our men on Wednesday evening is a great beginning to the second half of the season…to the State series. The next month will be wonderful to behold.
It was a beautiful evening for spectators and racers alike. It was night most will soon not forget. It was excitement personified. IT WAS THE NAPERVILLE TWILIGHT INVITE! Video Finish NCTV Overview Results Daily Herald Article Dyetrack article
There are no secrets on a Cross Country course. Over three miles, you learn everything there is to know about your training, talent, and mental toughness. And there is perhaps no more formidable interrogator than Lockport’s Dellwood Park, whose steep hills and hairpin turns tell each runner sharp truths about himself. Lockport Invitational Results Varsity Results Open Results Frosh-Soph Results
So after three weeks without racing, we eagerly took the line at Locktoberfest to see what we could learn about ourselves. Our numbers thinned by Coach Vandersteen’s annual AP Environmental field trip, many junior varsity athletes got their turn in the spotlight. The results will help us as we begin our preparations for the Upstate Eight Conference Meet.
In the Freshman/Sophomore race, the lead pack of sophomores Matt Horsley, Michael Widmann, Max
Rainer, and the resilient Grayson Jenkins showed a flinty toughness and steely determination. In the mid-30s at the start of their third mile, they steadily moved up to earn second place honors. Strong freshmen performances from Shiva and Vishy Singh, Aidan Livingston, and Tommy Kenny prove that their impressive performance at York was no fluke.
Perhaps our biggest secret—the continued improvement of freshman Connor Horn—was revealed to everyone in the Varsity Race. Horn’s 16:17 was an impressive varsity debut, but no less remarkable was the unflappable trio of seniors Robbie Hohlman, Michael Whaley, and Brendon O’Connor. With frontrunner Alekh Meka pulling out with Achilles pain after the two, those three picked up the slack. With sophomore Dan Weissclosing the door at 16:47, we were proud and fortunate to finish second in a talented field. Hats off to Lyons Township, who ran a
tactically brilliant race with a commitment to pack running. We look forward to testing ourselves against them at Sectionals.
Some of our best performances and most encouraging revelations were saved for the Open Race. Junior Alex Monovich and senior Rahul Daftari led the way, followed by season’s best performances from team favorites Nachi Pai and Mac Kiley. Sophomores Harsha Vankayalapati and Takanori Iida capped off an impressive week while freshmen Caleb Ferguson, Camden Leahy, Robby Oakley, and Lucas Weber reaped rewards for their patient training. Finally, when we think about truths told by Dellwood, none resounded more powerfully than the courage of junior Garrett Ginell, who suffered a devastating hip injury late in the race and hobbled to the finish. Ginell transformed himself this past year, beginning with 50 mile weeks last January. We are all proud of the young man he’s become and wish him a speedy recovery.
Thanks to Saturday, we clearly know who we are at this point in the season. We have a ways to go, but if we can run with the discipline of the sophomores, the toughness of the seniors, and the determination of Garrett Ginell, good things will happen a month from now at Detweiller.
This year, the Twilight Invitational Returns for its second year in South Naperville. Last year’s race was an exciting event featuring area teams in a challenging and true cross-country style course. We had a photo booth, glow gear, and many other fun perks for our athletes. This year’s theme has incorporated the Naperville Running Company Underground’s motif - “XC SWAG”. For some of last year’s highlights, see the video here:
This meet features teams from both Naperville school districts 203 and 204. The following teams are slated to compete in this year’s invitational:
- Neuqua Valley
- Waubonsie Valley
- Metea Valley
- Naperville Central
- Naperville North
5:00 p.m. - F/S girls (12 entries) 2 miles
5:25 p.m. - F/S boys (12 entries) 2 miles
5:50 p.m. – Open Girls (unlimited entries) 3 miles
6:25 p.m. – Open Boys (unlimited entries) 3 miles
6:55 p.m. – Varsity Girls (12 entries) 3 miles
7:25 p.m. – Varsity Boys (12 entries) 3 miles
8:15 p.m. Awards Ceremony. The awards ceremony will be held on the track.
For a look at this year’s course, including a few minor changes, see this link: Twilight Invite Course Map
This past Monday, our underclassmen headed out to East End Park in Elmhurst to race in the 50th Annual York Frosh / Soph Invitational. It was a beautiful day for the beginning of autumn, and it was an even better start to the second half of our season.
The Top 7 Freshmen began the day with an outstanding performance against some of the top schools in the area, and they took top honors in 1st place! Connor Horn was challenged early in the race by a York competitor, but shortly after coming through the 1 mile mark at 5:07, Connor shook off the competition and cruised to an easy victory in 10:11. He was supported by a strong cast of characters who followed closely behind. The Singh brothers, Shiva and Vishy, finished their races in 10:39 and 10:48, respectively. Aidan Livingston had a phenomenal race and came through the chute at 11:00. Tommy Kenny secured the victory for the team when he crossed the line in 11:09. Jackson Schroedter (11:20) and Wylie Anderson (11:25) rounded out the top 7.
The Top 7 Sophomore race was up next, and, although challenged by a formidable York team, they finished the day with a 2nd place team plaque. While Naperville North and York took the top 4 spots in this race, Dan Weiss charged right behind them for a 5th place finish in 10:28. Michael Widmann (10:33) and Max Rainer (10:35) are a great duo to watch as they race together from start to finish. Matt Horsley returned to action after dealing with achilles issues, and was only a few seconds behind Michael and Max…he finished the race in 10:38. John Stavropoulos was our fifth man in 11:11, and, over the course of the next several meets, will learn to run with Michael, Max, and Matt. Closing out the top 7 were Grayson Jenkins (11:16) and Colin Weidman (11:24).
Finishing the day were the Open competitors…60 of them just from Neuqua alone. It was amazing to see so much blue and gold pass through the finish chute before any other team even got their first competitor to the line. Neuqua took the top 6 places in this race, and had this race been scored for team points, we would have swept the entire competition. Kudos to Aidan Collins for winning the race in 11:09 and to Harsha Vanakayalapati for racing with purpose and determination! There are so many great races to mention here, but we’ll be sure to acknowledge them with some Vandershades at practice!
The entire team returns to action on Saturday, September 29, for Locktoberfest…the Lockport Invitational. And be sure to make plans to be at Neuqua on Wednesday evening, October 3, for the Naperville Twilight Invitational. See you all at the races!
Every trip to Detweiller is special, as rookie runners add their memory to the august history of the fabled course. This year’s trek offered new discoveries and breakthroughs even as the end result seemed enjoyably familiar. Check out the online results for the full story. Or scroll through the NVXC Splits Woodruff (painstakingly recorded by Andrew Merkley and Matt Horsley) for a closer look.
After last year’s third place finish, we were fortunate enough to win the Varsity race. With top runner Alekh Meka enduring the ACT back in Naperville, junior Nick Bushelle stepped up and proved himself a legitimate frontrunner. A pack featuring Robbie Hohlman, Alex Stowers, Brendon O’Connor, and Mike Whaley furiously charged the hill after him, each recording a P.R. in the process. Two of the day’s most impressive efforts belonged to seniors Matt Reynolds and Nathan Knockeart, who are both beginning to realize the rewards of their summer intensity.
The Open Race—which begins as a stampede and ends as Peoria’s longest, most exhausted Conga line—contained many remarkable performances. Freshman Connor Horn led the way, his Detweiller debut earning a first place finish in a field of more than 650 athletes. He was trailed closely by sophomore Daniel Weiss, setting a season P.R. at 16:11. Junior Mike Baker finished 3rd, with a breakout performance that featured an impressive dash towards the chute. Junior Omar Mehio and senior Ross Campbell
both collected hardware by taking risks in their races, while sophomore Max Rainer bounced back from an underwhelming race at Hinsdale (for him, at least). Five other freshmen—Shiva and Vishy Singh, Wylie Anderson, Jackson Schroedter, and Tommy Kenny—dipped below 18:00, while senior Gerard Lamb finally cracked 17:00. Runners like Micheal Boetel, Chris Sahm, and Andrei Blanca embodied the value of pack running, while competitors like Will Ackerman and Hector Azuara radiated pride and grit in their finishing kick. There was much to celebrate, but also much for us to reconsider, sharpen, and hone in the next three weeks as we prepare for the Lockport Invitational.
Finally, special mention should be made of nine freshmen—Alex Wang, Matt Pradzinski, Evan Novak, Nimond Dong, Ethan Ohlhausen, Peter O’Neill, Michael Block, Robby Oakley, and Jack Pfeiffer—who sat marooned on the roadside 20 miles outside of Detweiller when one of our buses broke down. Along with Coach Hartner and Coach Rossi, they waited an hour and a half for rescue while juggling rocks, conducting talent shows, and tweeting status updates. Everyone eventually arrived at the park and raced, but it was striking how fraternal and optimistic they seemed. If their camaraderie is any indication, we should enjoy many more fruitful trips to Detweiller in the years to come.