PEORIA — It was Naperville North’s Jimmy Qiao against the final, long slow incline Saturday.
Qiao hung on and therefore won. In the Class 3A finals, Qiao finished 25th, touring the three-mile Detweiller Park course in 14 minutes, 48 seconds.
“I knew when I made that final turn and looked at the last 600 meters, I was not going to be an all-stater if one person passed me,” said Qiao. “I was determined to keep everyone behind me. It was so tough to do that.”
Qiao tried to follow his game plan, but at times, it went awry.
“I wanted to pass people in the second mile, but I don’t think I did that very well,” said Qiao. “The race was tremendously fast and while the day started off very cold, it just turned perfect.”
While Qiao was celebrating an all-state status, David Racey, Naperville North’s coach, was hoping for better than a 10th-place team finish (309 points).
“Jimmy was right where he needed to be,” said Racey. “He is a quality athlete. I knew he could do this. As a team, I want to return and compete for a trophy.
“I thought we could do that today. It just did not happen. If we could have kept our pack a little tighter, we would have been closer to the trophies.”
Racey will have most of his team back in one year.
The other athletes who competed for Naperville North included Kerry Gshwendtner (56th, 15:08), Jake Pecorin (78th, 15:17), Griffin Haugen (106th, 15:27), Sam Ceruti (147th, 15:41), Ryan Hanselman (164th, 15:49) and Tyler Woodward (171st, 15:51).
Neuqua Valley placed seventh in the team standings with 274 points. The Wildcats were led by Nick Bushelle (31st place in 14:52).
Naperville Central placed 18th with 410 points and was paced by Ethan Brodeur (68th in 15:12).