The 3A championship highlight reel is unbelievable
Craig Virgin, Detweiller Park, 50 years of state meets, great weather, and the best fans in the country is a recipe for something special. Josh Methner (Sr., Hersey) is the heavy favorite to repeat as champion. Wheaton-Warrenville South is also a defending champion- in the team bracket. The Tigers were smarting from a tough loss to York at sectionals last weekend. Now their eyes were set in on the big favorite St. Charles East.
St. Charles East came into the state admittedly with some pressure on their backs. For a team never having a state trophy in their possession, the feeling of despair could overcome even the most talented groups. York, on the other hand, has 28 state championship gold plaques in their trophy cases. They also brought a boatload of fans to keep matters hyped up.
The #1 Saints did not let any pressure get to them once the race got underway, top runners Bob Liking (Sr.) and Micah Wilson (So.) moved to the front of the pack to establish themselves. Aidan King (Sr.) joined shortly after the opening incline climb to form a dominant trio. Add in a fourth all-stater Luke Schildmeyer (Jr.) to make it a great quartet.
Defending champion and #2 Wheaton South put up a great fight. The Tigers countered with their own group of four tough runners. William Hauenstein (Sr.) and David Zeller (Sr.) led the attack with eighth and thirteenth placements overall. Coincidently, Hauenstein placed eighth a year ago in 14:38.
Races are usually won with the fifth runner and if the Saints did not have so much firepower up front, they would have been in trouble. Such as the case was a slim and nail-biting 64-68 victory for the Saints.
York had a rough day outside of Daniel Klysh (Sr.) who was the only all-stater for the Dukes who had visions of taking the title. The scoring spread was solid but the pack was too far back to make an impact.
|1||St. Charles East High School||64||4+5+11+17+27 (65+107)||0:24 1-5 Split | 14:41 Avg|
|2||Wheaton Warrenville South High School||68||6+10+15+18+19 (78+143)||0:16 1-5 Split | 14:43 Avg|
|3||York High School||153||8+33+34+38+40 (66+83)||0:31 1-5 Split | 14:57 Avg|
|4||Sandburg High School||156||7+9+28+42+70 (131+144)||0:47 1-5 Split | 14:55 Avg|
|5||Oswego East High School||189||25+26+29+30+79 (92+108)||0:33 1-5 Split | 15:02 Avg|
|6||Maine South High School||206||13+24+36+51+82 (141+157)||0:46 1-5 Split | 15:04 Avg|
It is sometimes hard to tell what Methner is thinking whenever he is on the racecourse. He has a smooth persona character that sports a mischievous like smile at any given time. But at the same time, he is incredibly serious about the task at hand. Such was the case for Methner who conversed with his coaches earlier in the week about the race game plan. He wanted to run 4:35 for the first mile and then go 4:30 the second and see what he had left in the tank down the stretch.
The opening half-mile was fast! He led a fleeting pack through 2:07 and later 4:28. That opening mile was faster than Chris Derrick and Lukas Verzbicas ran for their initial mile. They were the last two serious threats to the legendary Craig Virgin's immortal record. Virgin was on hand at the park assisting and volunteering when he got the news of Methner's early sizzling pace.
Meanwhile, an unassuming Tyler Cushing (Sr., Bolingbrook) was in the midst of running the race of his life. Cushing in no way was trying to go 4:28 the first mile as Methner did. He held his own against one of the deepest fields in state history. Cushing was under 4:35 followed by Jared Kreis (Sr., Lincoln-Way Central), Jake Allen (Sr., Naperville North), Ian Geisler (Sr., Huntley), and a few other notables.
This race was all Methner who turned up the volume next max level in the backwoods as he hit the halfway point in 6:46. He was on 13:30 pace at the moment, but how would he feel at two-miles?
Methner clocked 9:12 with one mile to go. This pace was just one second slower than what Verzbicas ran in 2010. The crowd was sensing something special with just a half-mile to go and later 200. "I could see the clock and it said 13:25," said Methner. He put his foot down to the medal and... through the finish line in 13:49!!! To be clear, he was a full second of Virgin's 13:50.6. Virgin immediately embraced Methner and passed the mantle albeit several generations later. This record is especially special since Illinois is revered as one of the elite grounds for distance running talent and so many great athletes have run at Detweiller.