Making History: Boys Cross Country finishes 12th in the nation

Madison Venckus, Feature Editor

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300 hours of practice, 23 weeks of training, 17 meets, six coaches, and one team. After taking first place in conference, second in state and second at the Nike Midwest Regional meet, seven DGN athletes set off for Portland, Oregon to represent the boys cross country team and make a name for themselves. As they competed against 22 other elite teams in the nation, they all shared the same passion for running and the need for speed.

As the clouds rolled in Dec. 3 on the Glendoveer golf course in Portland, Oregon, 198 runners positioned their toes directly on the newly painted starting line of the five kilometer course. As the gun goes off, seven DGN athletes shoved to the front of the pack grimacing from the pain they’ll endure for the final three miles of their cross country season.

Finishing 12th in the nation at the Nike cross country National meet, commonly referred to as NXN, this was their first time going to the Nike Nationals meet. Sophomore and cross country runner, Matt Moravec, is the youngest member of the top seven.

“I think the mindset during the races has changed, after running so well I think the confidence has gone up a lot and we were all ready to run fast,” Moravec said.

Unlike the regular IHSA season, the Nike National series compiles the top runners and teams from any conference, state, and region. The boys were one of two teams chosen at the Nike Regional meet to represent the entire Midwest region.

“When you go to NXN, everybody is good. If you slow down for even just a second, you’re going to have people passing you. [At Nationals] you have to be constantly aware of what you’re doing otherwise you can get swallowed up by other runners,” senior and cross country runner Andrew Marek said.

Nike paid for all the runners airfare and supplied their uniforms for the meet. However, the rainy and muddy course was not as generous to the runners.

“The course in general was the hardest part because it rained everyday there, and for the National meet they want to make the course the most challenging because they have the top athletes there,” junior and cross country runner Nick Chudzik said.

The team wouldn’t have been complete without an entire coaching staff pushing them along the way. Due to Nike National rules, the coaching staff was unable to be the official coach of the team.

“He [Coach Sipple] has been a big part of my life for the past four years, just really a great role model for me. He’s helped me grow so much. Without him I couldn’t be where I am today,” Danner said.

They intend on returning to the national meet next season with five of the top seven runners returning to the team. Milesplit projects the team to be number one in the nation for the 2017 season.