PEORIA -- John Wold was running against the field on Saturday in the Class 2A cross country championship, but he also had another foe. Expectations. The Glenbard South senior's expectations for a better time than last year's Class 2A record of 14:16 at Detweiller Park and another dominating performance.
That was established on a cool, calm day. Saturday in central Illinois dawned cloudless and stayed that way, with an unseasonable south wind bringing 62-degree temperatures. That made breaking 14:16 highly unlikely, even for a stalwart like Wold.
"It was a lot tougher than last year," Wold said after beating the field in 14:38, with pesky runner-up Johnny Levenenz of Danville only two seconds in arrears. "The wind made it really difficult, and it was a little warmer and it was pretty soft today. I didn't run the time I wanted to, but I kind of realized that wasn't going to be a possibility once I got into the race.
"You can go out fast, but that wind keeps coming and coming. I didn't think it would be this windy. I thought the hills were going to keep it out."
But a win is a win, and Wold is now a back-to-back state champion, the first on the boys side since Sandburg's Lukas Verzbicas in 2009-10.
"My coach was saying you can't do better than first," Wold said.
As a team, the Raiders grabbed fifth place. Joe Singleton, 56 seconds behind Wold, was the second Glenbard South runner across the line, 20th in the team placing. The Raiders finished seven points behind fourth-place Chicago Jones and 37 points behind Vernon Hills, which finished third and grabbed the last available trophy.
Wold's cross country days aren't finished. He's in a regional qualifier for the Foot Locker national championship next weekend. That was also the plan last year, but a nasty auto accident the night of last year's state championship derailed that.
Wheaton Warrenville South finished eighth in Class 3A, paced by Nolan McKenna, whose 12th-place finish translated to ninth in the team scoring.
Wheaton North was 22nd in 3A, well off the expected pace even though senior Joseph Emmanuel took 14th overall and 10th in the team race with a time of 14:52. It wasn't what he was looking for.
"I wanted a little bit better," Emmanuel said. "I let two guys pass me in the last 400 (yards), so I'm a little disappointed about that. Top 10 would have been really nice. I wanted a faster time, but the wind caught me at the end."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.