Subfreshman cross country: Dolan wins sectionals, three other Illineks also advance
Published: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - 9:56pm
When & Where: Saturday, Oct. 10, at Kickapoo State Park (two-mile course)
Boys Results: Vinay Shanbhag, 4th (12:14), Bryan Hwu, 6th (12:19), Jonny Yockey, 31st (13:29), Randall Hornbaker, 41st (14:21), Kedar Vaidya, 55th (16:23).
Girls Results: Mara Dolan, 1st (13:12), Jaki Vipond, 4th (13:39), Lea Slauch, 41st (17:12)
State Qualifiers (top 10 at sectionals): Mara Dolan, Jaki Vipond, Bryan Hwu, Vinay Shanbhag
Next Meet: IESA state finals, Saturday, Oct. 17, Maxwell Park, Normal; Class A girls race at 10 a.m., Class A boys at 10:45 a.m.; admission and parking are free
KICKAPOO STATE PARK — Even though they have only been at Uni for two months, the subfreshman cross country runners have definitely made their presence known at the school by bringing back outstanding results from meets.
Heading into sectionals, the pressure was on for the runners. A top 10 finish was needed for any Illinek to continue on to the state meet, which will be held this Saturday at Maxwell Park in Normal.
"Since this was the biggest meet, everyone expected PRs," said standout Mara Dolan, who won five of the seven regular-season meets she ran in this fall. "We expected at least four runners make it to state. I expected the team to kick some butt."
A record performance
The Illineks definitely had an amazing showing for both the boys and girls.
The girls were led by Dolan, who won the race in 13:12. It was the second straight year that a Uni runner earned the girls sectional championship; current freshman Sarah Vaughen won the PBL sectional last year (13:04).
Dolan was followed by Jaki Vipond, who placed fourth with a time of 13:39. Lea Slauch, who has made tremendous improvement this season, finished 41st with a time of 17:12. St. Joseph won the team title with 29 points.
On the boys side, Vinay Shanbhag and Bryan Hwu, who have consistently been Uni's top two male runners, led the way again for the Illineks with fourth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively. Hwu was only five seconds behind Shanbhag's time of 12:14.
Rounding out the varsity spots, Jonny Yockey (13:29) finished 31st, Randall Hornbaker (14:21) 41st, and Kedar Vaidya (16:13) 55th. Overall, the team placed sixth with 123 points. Philo St. Thomas won the team title with 48 points, while John Leverenz of Danville St. Paul had the fastest time (11:36).
In all, four Uni runners advanced to Saturday's state meet: Dolan, Vipond, Shanbhag, and Hwu.
"[It's] hard not to be excited about their performances," said head coach Doug Mynatt, "especially since this is the most subbies I've ever had qualify for the state championship meet and, to the best of my knowledge, the most subbies Uni has ever sent to the meet in one season."
On to state!
Throughout this season the subbies prepared for their meets with grueling training. All the hills and long runs will pay off as the four state qualifiers face their final test in Maxwell Park this weekend.
The Class A girls race will begin at 10 a.m., followed by the Class A boys at 10:45. Admission and parking are free. For directions to Maxwell Park, click here.
"The top 25 finishers in each race medal and are deemed all-state, and I think we have individuals who could be on the medal stand on Saturday," said Mynatt, "It would be nice to add to the list of Uni all-staters, which includes current high school runners Sarah Vaughen (18th, 2008) and Buck Walsh (22nd, 2006)."
There's another motive for the runners to achieve all-state honors. It involves a certain long-haired freshman on the boys cross country team, Wyatt Bensken.
"Someone needs to place in the top 25," Dolan joked. "Because if someone places all-state we get to shave Wyatt's hair. This is something HUGE at stake. The team wants his hair cut more than a medal!"