Boys cross country qualifies for state first time in school history

Aaron Wykoff, senior, earned his best time at the Peoria state meet on Nov. 5

Adam Gonda, Staff Writer

The cross-country team made it to the state competition for the first time in the school’s history, finishing in 25th place with three of the seven who raced achieving their best times.

“It is pretty rewarding for the guys on the team to see all of that hard work pay off,” Jeffrey Purdom, head coach, said.

The three boys who achieved their best time at the state meet were seniors Paul De Avila, Michael Forbear, and Aaron Wyckoff. The rest of the boys who raced were seniors Cam Mulyk and Alex Rojo, and sophomores Tyler Schick and Harlan Matson.

“It showed all of our hard work finally paying off for the past four years,” Rojo said. “They’ve been very stressful on our bodies and being able to punch our ticket at sectionals to state was huge.”

  To qualify for state, a team needs to get at least 5th place at regionals, and at least 7th place in sectionals. They achieved 4th place in the regional race at East Moline; then they achieved 5th place in the sectional meet in Quincy. The entire team raced in these qualifying events, even if they did not advance to the state meet.

“It doesn’t matter whether they raced in the state meet or not. Everybody who was on the roster, fastest guy to slowest guy, played a role in what we were able to do,” Purdom said.

There was common consensus among the team, Purdom, and the athletic director Mark Krusz that running as a group was essential for reaching and racing in the state meet.

“Yes, you have the individuals that can advance and have individual times, but as a team, you have to run as a pact, and this was a real mentality that this group dedicated itself to,” Krusz said.

The state race itself had the biggest crowd size the team had ever seen, making the preparation much more stressful.

“There were a lot of nerves going into it, but once the gun goes off, all of that feeling goes away,” Wyckoff said.