Boys’ cross country’s final sprint to NXN


Runhawk Photos

LOOKING DAPPER: Top seven runners pose for the camera in a convertible in sport coats and sunglasses to intimidate their competitors.

Ava LaBianco, News Editor

It was 11 p.m. Ryan Eddington got the call from his dad that the DGN Boy’s cross country made the Nike Nationals. Out of pure excitement the boys sprinted out of their house to DGN High School. Screaming that they made it, this was the first time in 5 years that DGN cross country made it to nationals. 

Every year Nike holds 9 cross country regional meets. NXR, Nike Cross Regionals, is the Midwest race that DGN participates in. The race day is on Saturday Dec. 3. in Portland, Oregon. The meet consists of a 5k run that the top 7 ranked runners participate in: Topher Ferris, Asa Gaspar, Leo Gartlan, Zach Bender, Ryan Eddington, Caden Weber, and Grant Schroder.

“The boys have progressed over the course of their high school running careers. It takes a lot of work to get this point and it is extremely difficult to qualify for the meet,” cross country coach John Sipple said.

The top two teams at NXR are auto-qualified for Nike Cross Nationals and third is a contender for an at-large bid. On the night of Nov. 26, the team received the news that they are going to NXN. In 2016 the DGN varsity cross country team placed 11th and in 2017 they placed 4th at this meet. 

“NXN is kind of like an NFL wildcard. We plead our case based on statistics of our speed and placement in current races and at NXR on why we should make it to nationals and they review it and decide after all regionals have run,” cross country runner Zach Bender said. “Our main arguments were that we have previously beat Hinsdale Central at sectionals and Hinsdale continued on to win our regional. After seeing these points and others they decided we were a team deserving a ticket to nationals.” 

This meet differs from state because the team will be racing against schools from all around America. Plainfield South placed 1st, Hinsdale South 2nd, and DGN 3rd at the Illinois state meet. These same schools also placed top 3 in the NXR race and will be going to NXN.

“Our goal is to beat as many Illinois teams as we can and beat west coast schools as well,” cross country runner Ryan Eddington said.

The Nike Cross Nationals is a high level cross country race. The race is composed of 22 teams and 45 individual runners that had to qualify through 8 regional races from around the country. The boys believe they got to this point with the amount of work they put in. 

“Qualifying for this meet has all been in the back of our minds since June. Holding each other accountable for all the drills and exercises we do at practice was huge for helping our team get to this point,” Ferris said. 

The race is sponsored by Nike and they cover the whole 4 day experience including gear, flights, hotels, etc. Most of the team have been running together since middle school and they have grown together. 

Running with each other on the roads just us 7 everyday for almost 6 months makes us really close. And then hanging out outside of that, like going to the dunes, playing spikeball, going bowling. We hung out pretty much every day over the summer. Things like that make a bond with each other that’s really tight,” cross country runner Asa Gaspar said.

The boys have been through injuries and sickness all season which struck some worry within the team.  However, the team fought back and is ready to face the 21 best teams in the nation. The team is ready to showcase what we have been working on since June to the nation.

“It is every runner’s dream to go to this meet and it is an honor that we get to experience it. On Dec. 3, it will be rainy and muddy, perfect conditions to see which team has the most guts,” Ferris said. 

The boys’ team ended in a tie with Corning Union High School for 10th in the nation. The team is looking forward to next and hoping for another exceptional season.