Surprise, surprise... not really as the highly ranked Danny Kilrea takes the solid victory (photo by Noah Callow)
The theme for qualifying meets are always "survive and advance." Lyons Township senior Danny Kilrea was a late draw for the Footlocker Midwest Regional Boys seeded race that took place at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside's National Cross Country course. He decided to entered when he was sure that he could qualify comfortably and confidently. "I wanted to make sure that I could handle both national meets [NXN & FL]," Kilrea was overheard saying after his big win over US #1 over 5k distance in Zach Kreft of Ohio 14:53-15:05.
Fellow Illinois runners Dylan Jacobs and Clayton Mendez punched their tickets to San Diego, CA where the national championship will be run at historic Balboa Park on December 9. The well known seniors from Sandburg and Chicago Whitney Young High Schools got into the mix right away. It was Jacobs who led the first mile in 4:53 followed by Mendez who latched on to the front pack like a pitbull does to a mail carrier. He never let go until finishing 3rd overall in 15:07. Jacobs advanced with ease as well with a 5th place time of 15:07.5.
Not to be outdone for top 10 honors was Matt Scrape from Pickerington, OH who took 4th in 15:07. Chad Johnson from Galion, OH, Harrison Scudamore of Denver East, CO, Matthew Schadler from Evansville Memorial, IN, Shuaib Aljabaly of Coldwater, MI, and Drew Bosley of Homestead, WI got the last spot over the heartbroken Gabe Fendel of Hamilton Southeastern, IN.
Qualifying meet or not it was the highly ranked Olivia Theis who turned on the burners late for the win
The same could have went for Olivia Theis of Lansing Catholic HS in Michigan in terms of feeling things out and just qualifying. The senior standout came is as the #3 ranked girl in the Milesplit FLO 50 rankings. It was just three weeks ago that the state restricted Theis put up an impressive Michigan D3 state championship in 16:53. But how good was that 5k time among some of the elite girls in the midwest? Good enough for a 157 speed rating. That usually signals an automatic win against almost any competition. Theis along with Illinois overall champion sophomore Katelynne Hart of Glenbard West let the first mile play out in 5:34. It was a pack of 4 girls and a sliver behind as they crossed in 11:11 for two miles.
Theis sized up her competition and 2.25 miles and surged the winding downhills. It did not appear as though Hart or anyone else in tow wanted refused Theis' challenge so she sped away to victory in 17:13.4. Hart was second comfortably with a time of 17:17.1- just ahead of Emily Covert of Minnesota who ran 17:17.4. Not surprising was Sarah Schmitt in 4th. The Naperville North senior stayed in contact the entire way and ran 17:30.