Plano's Martin Diaz and Kaneland's Parker Malone run a straightaway in the Class 2A regional October 24 at Kaneland High School.
Plano's Martin Diaz and Kaneland's Parker Malone run a straightaway in the Class 2A regional October 24 at Kaneland High School.

MAPLE PARK – Kaneland was in third place heading into the final race of Saturday’s Class 2A Kaneland boys cross country regional in Maple Park.

The Knights were floating in uncharted waters, but leave it to the defending state champs to find a way to win.

“I told the boys where we’ve gone in 26 years we’ve never been to a meet and had to do this, let alone an IHSA state series meet, where this has happened,” Kaneland coach Chad Clarey said. “It’s not necessarily they made history, because they won, but they just made history because they survived. At no other time have we seen that happen. It’s kind of cool but hope we never have to do it again.”

Kaneland finished with 63 points while runner-up Burlington Central (78) edged Hampshire (79) and Sycamore (80) for second place.

“Honestly it would’ve been nice to be second place, but this was by far our best run of the season so you’ve got to be happy with that regardless of being in fourth place,” Sycamore coach Mike Lambdin said. “I think it’s something the boys are excited about and hopefully it’ll lead to even better results next weekend.”

Junior Nicholas Kocher (16:20.39) and senior Jack Cambier(16:22.93) led the Spartans finishing in eighth and 10th place respectively. Freshman Naif Al Harby (16:35.37) was 15th.

Hampshire senior Isai Morales (15:50.24) took second place and junior Aidan Gonzalez (16:12.59) was fifth for the Whip-Purs while Burlington Central junior Robert Perry (16:02.75) and sophomore Yusuf Baig (16:20.30) were fourth and sixth respectively. Zac Schmidt (16:32.72) was 13th to help the Rockets slip past the Whip-Purs and Spartans for second place.

“You’ve got seven boys that have covered three miles each and at the end you’re separated by two points,” Lambdin said. “And Kaneland is a program we have all kinds of respect for and we we’re within 17 points of them today so we’re going home very happy.”

Senior Isaiah Dallal (15:54.23) placed third to lead the Knights to the regional hardware.

“It was great to have Dixon and Hampshire and Burlington (Central) be up there,” Dallal said. “I like having new competition and seeing those teams again was nice. I like being able to be up there with them having fun.”

Kaneland junior Nolan Allen (16:26.94) took 11th for the Knights.

“It wasn’t the time I was expecting from myself, but today was more about place and team work,” Allen said. “Our order was completely backward so it was insane to see them finish the way they did.”

Because of safety measures in place due to the pandemic, there were a pair of race flights, beginning with the Nos. 1-3 and individuals racing first and culminating with the Nos 4-7. Kaneland junior Christian Phillips (16:33.88) crossed the finish line first in the second flight, placing 14th overall and establishing a PR.

“I’m used to running behind someone so right before the two-mile point I was in first so I just had to run how I run,” Phillips said.“ The whole goal since we’re so close is if one person falls back it’s someone else’s responsibility to surge ahead. We’ve got such a good team and have to keep on pushing each other.”

Other finishers for Kaneland included sophomore Brady Babka (16:39.06), junior Logan Cunz (16:41.40) and seniors Parker Malone (16:41.43) and Aaron Lodwig (16:51.24)

Marmion (112) was a distant fifth place, but the final team to qualify for sectionals. The Cadets were followed by Sandwich (177), Sterling(187), Dixon (194) and Plano (222).

Seniors Anthony Standish (16:20:34) and Charlie Schultz (16:22.23) led the Cadets.

A few seniors were the lone sectional qualifier for the irrespective schools, including Sandwich’s Steve Aguilar (16:28.22) and Wyatt Miller (16:57.30), Plano’s Martin Diaz (16:42.47) and Sterling’s Javon Bruce (16:47.23).

Dixon senior Cadyn Grafton (15:38.51) won by nearly a dozen seconds over Morales for the regional championship.

“My plan was to stay with the lead pack and make a move two miles in,” Grafton said. “I thought somebody would push me and I felt amazing for the first two miles so I made a move and put myself out there.”

And put himself across the finish line well before anyone else.

“I was extremely happy with my finish and what not,” he said. “But I could tell I still have potential for sectionals with more competition next week.”

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