In His Own Words: Joey Santillo

There is always one week all year, set aside from the rest, which is a little crazier than any other week. It is homecoming week at Minooka. A week filled with dress up days, lunch activities, tie shopping, and after school functions. With black and orange all around, school spirit is at an all-time high during this week of the year and it is easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement. Luckily for the team, Coach Gummerson was sure to keep work from play during the week. Any runner caught saying the word “homecoming” at practice would be rewarded with 50 push-ups. Of course, our coaching staff had fun with it and did all they could to get you to say the HC word. They made sure you were staying on your toes when talking to them. Homecoming alone added plenty of excitement during the week. 
Making sure I kept my head in the game, so far as running went, I had to get up earlier and add more mileage to my morning runs. Being my senior year, I wanted to enjoy some of the activities the school was putting on in the evening so I knew getting in extra training time was going to be difficult. During practice, however, we knew what we had to do and what we’ve been working towards all along. Coach Gummerson didn’t differ from his set plan. During some workouts reps went down as times got faster, this shook things up making sure we were ready for different parts of our race Saturday at the Sterling Invite.

The Sterling invite has always been one of my favorites through  the years, a meet that I had won the year before. The Sterling High School drum line adds to the energy of the meet along with the famous Bezerker tree. It is an awesome course and I always feel like there is no meet quite like it in the state. Right off the bat, the fight for position was key.  The entrance of the woods is a narrow funnel and dips down so getting set from the start is an important factor in the race. I led the race out into a comfortable pace for about a mile and a half, until, after taking a tight left turn, my feet got caught up in the runners behind me and I hit the ground and rolled. I felt as if I was having Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan moment as I opened my eyes and saw my hands and feet with the ground. I got up as soon as could to try and remake the lost ground from the fall. The momentum change was a factor in the rest of the race, but I feel I did the best I could in coming back. In the end, I feel falling was a good learning experience and I will do nothing but grow from it.

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