Jake Hoffert wins Boys Varsity Race; Yorkville wins both Boys and Girls Team Titles
Before the start of the Girls Varsity race of the Yorkville Invitational at Hoover Forest Preserve, Yorkville coach Chris Muth was asked how his Freshman Skyler Bollinger would run.
“She ran a little scared last week (at a meet at Sandwich),” Muth said. “Hopefully, she shows up today.” After that, he just stood there and smiled. There was a confidence in his smile knowing that this gifted freshman would be towards the front in this invite.
Bollinger took the lead at after holding back for the first mile. At the half way point, she had a 12 second lead on teammate and fellow freshman Summer Pierson. She pulled away in the last mile for an easy thirty second win over Pierson. Bollinger’s winning time was 18:00. Last year, Ariel Michalek of Oswego East ran 18:06 to place second. Michalek went on to run sub 17 at the state meet. Also, due to construction in a part of the course, the length of it is longer than the advertised 3.0 miles. Take that into consideration when looking at her performance.
She ran 17:31 at the Detweiller at Dark event at the end of July. There were some fans that were scratching their heads wondering who was this runner? After her first invitational win, they can say that this runner could challenge for a state championship.
“I did not have a good race last Thursday. It was really, really hot,” Bollinger said. “But that was okay. You just pass it on and move on to the next race. I’m just hoping to finish in the top 5 at state this year. That is my goal.”
“She held back for the first mile and she was in the lead. I told her to push it up the hill and she did. She made another move in the last mile,” said Muth. “She had a little bit more in the tank. We are still trying to figure out what her strengths are and what her weaknesses are and figure out a race strategy for her. Her dedication and will to go are outstanding.”
Behind Bollinger and Pierson’s 1-2 finish and without all state runner Casey Kramer who did not race, the 2A #2 Lady Foxes were able to hold off 3A #10 Downers Grove South 26-38. The Mustangs ran without #1 runner Amanda Thate.
The boys race was also dominated by Yorkville. At the halfway point of the race, Plainfield South’s Dan Lathrop was surrounded by Yorkville runners who had 7 in the first 10. Yorkville made a surge in the last mile with Sophomore Jake Hoffert leading the way. Hoffert won the race breaking the course record by 12 seconds. With 4 in the first 5 and a 39 second 5 man split, the 2A #4 Foxes scored 21 points, 27 ahead of 3A #19 Plainfield South.
“My goal was to go 2 miles and go for the last one. It usually ends up less than that,” said Hoffert. “We set some team goals this year to have a 25 second split. We just want to be ready for state meet when it comes.”
“We just told them to go after the hill at 1.4 miles,” Muth said commented about the boys race. “We had four runners close together today. If we get the 5th runner close we could have something special. Our main point is to run with the top runners whomever that may be. If we can do that and get used to it, our split will be the thing that will define us.”
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The first race of the day was the Girls Junior Varsity. Usually this race or the Frosh / Soph races do not get mentioned or get the front page exposure. In this case, the random act of kindness that I saw deserves mention.
There were over a hundred runners in this race which was started with temperatures in the low 80’s. On the second lap, I was standing by the finish line when I saw an athlete coming from the path which the course was on. At first I thought she might be in the later varsity race but that was not the case.
“Could someone come quickly,” she said looking frantically for a trainer. “There is a runner on the course that is having trouble breathing.”
The staff by the finish line quickly got the trainer who with his assistant grabbed a cart and rumbled off to attend to this athlete.
The athlete who got the trainer is from Rosary. I believe her name is Caroline Maley. She stopped in the middle of her race to see if her competitor needed help. Then she ran back a quarter mile to get help. After the cart left, she went back on the course and went to finish the race. She actually ran 3 ½ miles to do the right thing.
I just thought that this needed to be mentioned. She showed sportsmanship without regard to how she would finish the race. For this, Caroline Maley should be applauded.
This is why I like the sport of cross country so much and why this sport is so special. It is because of some of the people who are involved in it.