Run Your Best

Monday, October 30 2023 - IHSA Sectional

The goal of cross country is to run your best race in the last race of the season. The Wildcats who toed the line at IHSA Sectionals in Granite City all accomplished that goal.

The girls were the first to race, Hannah Kilday and Bridget Kemp, had a chance to advance on to the IHSA Finals. Coming into the race Hannah was projected to finish 33rd overall and be the 14th individual not on a qualifying team. That would have her falling short of the goal to qualify for the State Finals. Thankfully races are not run on paper, and Hannah brough her best when it matters most. Hannah smashed her own school record and outperformed her predicted finish coming into the race. Hannah moved up and ran a negative split race to pass about 10 people the last mile, to finish 21st overall and as the 6th individual not on a qualifying team, to punch her ticket to the State Finals next week in Peoria, becoming the first girl since 2011 to get a chance to race for a State Championship. Bridget Kemp also outperformed her projected finish by over 10 places. Bridget smashed her PR, breaking 19 for the first time and setting a new PR of 18:47. Bridget now is the 5th fastest athlete in PHS history. This was also the first race since 2011 when the Wildcats had two athletes break 19 in the same race.

The boys came in to the race knowing they would have to put together a very strong race to have a chance to move on as a team or to get an individual qualifier. As we discussed after the race, unfortunately in cross country you can’t play defense. The boys ran their best race of the season (arguably the best team race in PHS history) but it still came up just a little short on the day. Tyler Schick led the way, as he has all year finishing as our top runner. Tyler just missed qualifying for State, as the 11th individual. Tyler as he has his entire career brought his best race when it mattered most. Tyler passed 15 people the last mile in a valiant effort to punch his ticket to state. Tyler’s time of 15:07 is the 2nd fastest time in PHS history, and was a 30 second PR. After missing 6 weeks of the season with a hip injury I couldn’t be more proud of the race Tyler ran. Next in was Harlan Matson. Harlan has had a season of ups and downs, but has stayed consistent with training and not given up on yourself, and it paid off in a big way with a massive lifetime best and the 4th fastest time in PHS history or 15:14. Luke Adair is the consummate grinder when it comes to cross country, a 21:00 PR as a freshman Luke committed to getting better by running track and pushing himself every day. That has continued to pay off as Luke ran a lifetime PR of 15:44, only Jonathan Goetsch and Paul DeAvila have run faster as a junior in my time at PHS. Arnold Arce was next in, also running a PR and breaking 16 for the first time, with a 15:49. Arnold was a late addition to the team, not running as a freshman, but joining the team as a sophomore and never looking back as key member of our team’s success. Arnold has pushed himself to a point where he is now on a short list of PHS legends. Ubaldo Rodriguez rounded out the scoring for the team, also breaking 16 for the first time. Giving the team 5 athletes under 16 for the first time in school history. Ubaldo does more to balance his training than any athlete I have ever worked with, his commitment to being his best is going to continue to pay off for him in the next year and a half as a Wildcat. The team’s 6th runner was Micah Ruland, who joined us 2 weeks into the season and, as a junior, lowered his PR down to 16:11, not bad for a first-year runner. The future is certainly bright for Micah. Rounding out the scoring was Adrian Castillo, who smashed his PR, just barely missing break 17, running 17:00, not bad for someone whose PR was 22:35 as a freshman, hard work and commitment to running year-round has paid off in a big way for Adrian. The boys finished 11th (they were projected 12th on paper), and that is the 3rd highest sectional finish in school history.

9 for 9 on PRs, being ready to run your best race when it matters most and outperforming the projections coming in. Sectionals was a great day for the Wildcats!