Subfreshman cross country: All four Illineks place top 50 at finals, Dolan makes all-state
Published: Monday, October 19, 2009 - 10:33pm
When & Where: Saturday, Oct. 17, Maxwell Park, Normal (two-mile course)
What: Illinois Elementary School Association state championship meet
Girls Results: Mara Dolan, 11th (12:32), Jaki Vipond, 39th (13:05)
Boys Results: Vinay Shanbhag, 26th (11:32), Bryan Hwu, 50th (11:55)
What It Means: By placing in the top 25, Mara Dolan made all-state in Class A, while Vinay Shanbhag missed it by just one spot. Dolan turned in the best state performance on record of any Uni subbie female, edging current freshman Sarah Vaughen by two seconds and seven places (Vaughen finished 18th at last year's Class A state meet, running the course in 12:34). Overall, the top 50 showings should translate into plenty of success at the varsity level for the young crew.
NORMAL — With Mara Dolan leading the way, all four Uni subfreshmen finished in the top 50 Saturday morning at the Illinois Elementary School Association's Class A cross country state finals.
Dolan covered the two-mile course at Maxwell Park in 12 minutes, 32 seconds to place 11th out of 237 runners. Jackie Graham, a sixth-grader from Liberty, won the race in 11:52.
By finishing in the top 25, Dolan earned all-state honors and turned in the best state performance by a subbie female runner in school history.
She edged the previous top finisher, current freshman Sarah Vaughen, by two seconds and seven places; at last year's finals, Vaughen ran the course in 12:34 and came in 18th.
Dolan's teammate, Jaki Vipond, ran a personal-best time of 13:05 en route to 39th place. Indeed, all of the subbies ran personal bests.
"It was really amazing," said fellow state finalist Bryan Hwu, "that we have two girls that did super well the entire way at the meet."
In the boys race, Vinay Shanbhag fell short of all-state honors by a mere second. He ran the course in 11:32, placing 26th out of 233 runners.
Max Roberts, a seventh-grader from Green Oaks Oak Grove, took the final all-state spot with a time of 11:31.
In fact, the competition was so tight that only five seconds separated Shanbhag from 16th place.
Seth Trobaugh, an eighth-grader from Clifton Nash, won the race in 10:56.
Shanbhag's fellow Illinek, Hwu, came on strong in the final stretch to take 50th place. His time of 11:55 was only five seconds shy of Tolono Unity's Kyle Gateley in 40th place. Less than a second separated Hwu from the 49th, 48th, and 47th runners.
"The race was really intense," said Shanbhag. "I am very happy that I was so close to a top 25 finish. This season was great, and it was good running with Bryan all year."
"Vinay and Bryan have been really amazing this year," said Ziran Shang, a junior on the high school varsity squad. "They run ridiculously well for subbies."
The four subbies have worked hard the past two months to provide support and push each other to get even better. The guidance of head coach Doug Mynatt and his assistants has paid off for the runners.
"We would really like to thank the coaches," said Vipond, looking back at the season. "They trained us really well, and we were definitely well-prepared for the [state] meet."
Now that their season is over, the subbies are already looking forward to 2010.
"Next year I am really excited by the different distances, going from two miles to three at the high school level," said Dolan. "We had a great time running with the high school runners this year [in practice], and when we join the team next year it will be more fun!"