Boys Cross Country: Jones enjoys dream run to Class 2A title

Story Image Jamison Dale of Jones powers to the finish to help give his team a first place victory in the 2A boys state cross country meet. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: November 6, 2012 2:26PM

PEORIA – What seemed like an impossible dream turned into a dream come

true for Jones’ boys cross country team Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles, who established themselves as the Class 2A state favorite when they beat three-time defending champ Belvidere North in an early-season invitational, became the first state champ from the

Public League in 49 years by beating the Thunder 85-126 in the 2A final at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

“I’ve been thinking about this day for four years,” said Jamison Dale, the Eagles’ No. 1 runner. “I’m pretty much speechless. Nothing can really describe it. The journey’s been crazy, it’s been a lot of fun.”

Jones was led by three senior all-staters: Dale, who was seventh in 14 minutes, 43 seconds; Luke O’Connor (eighth, 14:45); and Kirby Lawson (18th, 14:53). Also scoring were junior Peter Schaible (31st, 15:13) and sophomore Kyle Maloney (39th, 15:19).

It may not have been the Eagles’ best race of the season, but it was easily good enough to make them the Public League’s first champ since Lane in 1963.

“This was a new strategy for us,” coach Andrew Adelmann said. “We had a spot to defend. ... We had to run a conservative race – status quo – and protect positions. We asked all the guys to make individual sacrifices for the sake of the team.”

Dale went all in: “I’d take a team title over an individual title any day,” he said.

The 2A individual champ, Glenbard South junior John Wold, also had a compelling story.

He had to drop out of the first race of the year with a right foot injury and didn’t compete again till the last meet before conference.

“This year was more a mental thing because I didn’t have the base,” said Wold, who won in 14:16, five seconds ahead of Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Baker. “I had to dig deep.”

So did Class 3A winner Jack Keelan of St. Ignatius, who ran 14:05 and beat Prospect’s Quentin Shaffer by nine seconds.

“Senior year, you’ve got to set your goals as high as you can, get them all in before you head off [to college],” Keelan said.

Keelan made his move to pull away from O’Fallon’s Alex Riba (who ran second most of the race before finishing third) with about a half mile left. “I said, ‘It’s all or nothing.’ I had to go for it,” Keelan said.

It was just a relief to be running in the final race of the day after waiting out five other ones.

“Watching the other races, I was [thinking], ‘I just want it to start.’ I was sitting on the bus for two hours.”

Also worth the wait was York’s 28th state title, which came 50 years after the first won by coaching icon Joe Newton, still going strong at 83. The Dukes beat O’Fallon 82-117 with Lyons (125) also earning a trophy.

“We won and that’s the most important thing,” Newton said. “It wasn’t one of our best races but we won so I’m thankful.”

Scott Milling (sixth, 14:21) led the Dukes, who also had a pack of Kyle Mattes (23rd, 14:47), Alex Mimlitz (24th, 14:48) and Alex Bashqawi (27th, 14:50).

“Obviously, this is the best day of my life,” Milling said. “We work all year to win state. That’s the goal. I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet.”

In Class 1A, Grant Nykaza (14:22) became Beecher’s third state champ after taking second, fourth and second the past three years.

“I told myself all through the race, ‘I trained four years for this,’” Nykaza said. “’Today’s my day, I’m not going to lose.’”

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