Boys cross country: Krupa cruises back into prominence for Hersey
Hersey's Jacob Krupa had his junior cross country season wiped-out due to a medical conditions dealing with his blood pressure.
Krupa patiently waited on the sidelines last season, as he worked on getting his health right.
Now the Huskies senior is making up for lost time
Krupa came from behind in the final mile, passing Wheeling senior Matt Hoffman with 300 meters remaining in taking first in 15:37.1 at the 46th annual Fenton Earlybird Invitational in Bensenville.
Hersey also placed six runners in the top 19 in cruising to the team title with 43 points.
Oak Park-River Forest took second with 132 points followed by Prospect (139), Glenbard West (146), and Hoffman Estates (148) rounding out the top five positions in the 18-team field.
After missing the cross country season, Krupa did not begin full training until March. But the Huskies' senior has jumped out to a fast start this season, erasing any doubts about his ability.
"I wanted to prove to myself that I can still do it," said Krupa, who finished 12th in the MSL his sophomore year. "I have huge goals for the end of the season and the team has huge goals. I'm excited to get the season going."
Krupa took it out smart in the first mile and then came charging the final 2 miles to secure the victory on the 3-mile course on a warm but comfortable day.
"He is back and more," said Hersey coach Jay Renaud of Krupa's challenging junior season. "It was definitely tough and you could tell it was taking a toll on him personally and emotionally.
"But his spirits are back and his personality is back. Running has brought his life back together -- it's awesome to see."
Krupa keyed the Huskies' attack with junior Ryan Theisen (15:47.9) and junior Jack Fredian (15:55.3) also coming up big in fifth and ninth place.
Senior Sam Svienty (15:57.7) added a 12th-place finish, followed by junior Quinn Cunningham (16:06.5) and junior Nate Mayo (16:14), who contributed 16th- and 19th-place finish for an impressive Huskies performance.
"Our goal was just trying to get out faster than normal," said Theisen, whose team suffered a close loss to Fremd on Tuesday. "We used that defeat as fuel for this race and just wanted to bounce back."
Meanwhile, Hoffman showed he will be force this season. The Wheeling senior finished 19th at the Mid-Suburban League meet last season, but he is off to a fast start this fall.
Hoffman clung to the lead at the 2-mile mark, and battled Krupa into the chute in 15:39.
"I felt comfortable and I thought I ran pretty well," said Hoffman, "I ran a ton of miles over the summer. I just need to keep it up and the season should go well."
"The more experience he gets running up front, the more prepared he will be for the end of the season," said Wheeling coach Tom Polak. "It was a strong effort."
Oak Park-River Forest junior Matthew Vietzen (15:46) took fourth; the Huskies were without top runner Irwin Loud.
Prospect wasn't about to show its full hand yet, but the Knights were still dealing in reeling in a third-place team finish. Junior Jack Hempleman (16:21.7) and junior Casey Daleiden (16:28.1) led the charge, taking 22nd and 25th place.
"I was really pleased," said Prospect coach Mike Stokes, "I though Hempleman ran a really smart race and the pack just kind of moved it up. We did a real nice job for the first race."
Senior Will Buechner (15:54.4) gave Glenbard West a lift by taking eighth place and pushing the Hilltoppers to a fourth-place team finish.
Also contributing for Glenbard West were junior Cam Benes (15:59.5) and junior Luke Maek (16:22.1) in 14th and 24th place.
"I was trying to focus on my pace the whole time," said Buechner. "I felt a good movement and just continued that til the end. I think our team is ready."
Hoffman Estates is still putting the pieces together after graduating four seniors from last year's state-qualifying squad. But the Hawks offered a trio of front-runners who look like they can do some damage.
Senior Jack Worman (15:51.7) led the Hawks in seventh place, followed by senior Ryan Greenwalt (16:04.8, 15th) and senior Alex Makrounis (16:09.4, 17th).
"We've been running together for a long time," said Worman of the Hawks' senior trio. "There is a comfort level there. Today we just wanted to build throughout the race."
Junior Colin Kirkham (15:58.1, 13th) and senior Jason Joda (16:21.9, 23rd) paced Lake Park to a sixth-place finish.
Vernon Hills senior Shane Williamson is on the list of contenders for the Class 2A individual title. He finished third in Class 2A in his sophomore season and added an eighth-place finish last fall.
Williamson (15:56.3) ran a controlled race on Saturday, taking 11th place and leading the Cougars to a seventh-place team finish.
"I put in solid summer training and I'm feeling ready," said Williamson who was stung by a bee at the Lake County Invitational on Wednesday. "Today race we were using as a benchmark to see where everyone is. Didn't want push it too hard, but wanted to get in a solid race."
Junior Mitchell Guittar (16:11.9) found a nice rhythm powering to 18th place and helping Buffalo Grove finish eighth.
"I thought we had some positive things happen," said Buffalo Grove first-year coach Chris Marks. "I thought Mitchell got out very well today. We are not where we want to be, but we are putting the pieces together."
Senior Jonah Jones (15:51.6, sixth) helped lead Wheaton Academy to a ninth-place finish.
St. Francis senior Nick Brouch (15:55.7) captured 10th place with junior Alex Hernandez (16:31.2) adding a 26th-place finish.