HERALD ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: NICK FALK OF NEW TRIER
In his first high school race since running to an all-state eighth-place finish in the 3,200-meter at the 2021 boys track and field finals on June 19, New Trier senior Nick Falk finished in second place at the Class 3A level of the First to the Finish Invitational cross country meet on Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
He led the Trevians to the team title.
Running the 3 miles on the course where the Illinois High School Association cross country finals will be held Nov. 6, Falk finished in 14 minutes, 50.5 seconds, right on the heels of Hinsdale Central's Daniel Watcke, who ran it in 14:50.0. On June 19 in Charleston, Watcke won the Class 3A 800-meter run.
New Trier junior Beatrix Gilson finished second in the 3A girls race as well in Peoria, about 2 seconds behind Lucy Westlake of Naperville North.
"It was a very strong performance for a rust-buster," New Trier boys cross country coach Matt Sloan said of Falk.
"Nick has been dealing with a breathing issue since the spring, so it was great to see him up front leading the race and feeling good," Sloan said.
From the lead pack, Falk continued to drive the field, and finished nearly 6 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Riley Newport of DeKalb.
"Nick tipped his hat to Daniel Watcke on a great performance for the individual win," Sloan said.
Third at the 2020 Class 3A Hoffman Estates sectional and second at the Loyola regional, Falk currently is deciding among three Division I cross country programs to continue his college career.
At Detweiller, the Trevians finished ahead of Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove North, Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley, only 31 points separating first through fifth place.
George Cahill, Blake Deger, Oscar Dueno-Alda and Patrick Jamieson all scored among the top 46 runners for New Trier. Forty-one teams and 366 individuals ran in the boys Class 3A portion of the event.
"We are happy with the result," Sloan said, "but we are also aware that Illinois is one of the best states in the nation for cross country. I will tell you that the boys made it their collective goal to finish on the podium (top-3 at the state meet), which would be the first time a New Trier boys cross country team achieved that feat since 1962."