A few thoughts from another busy week of sports:
Not to sound like a grouch but at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, when most respectable people are still sleeping, I was in a demanding mood as I started my drive to Peoria.
I was heading to the Illinois High School Association State Cross Country event at Detweiller Park and I haven’t covered that event since the early 1980s. My hair was longer, I was skinnier and the event was massive. That’s all I remember about it.
My mission on Saturday was to cover our area teams including the top-ranked boys team in the nation -- Sandburg.
For most people, that would be enough.
But at 5:30 a.m., I grumbled to myself that I wanted to see some history. I don’t know when the next time I will go back to the meet, so I want to see something people have not seen before, dang it.
I was hoping to see one of the longest records in IHSA history fall. A guy named Craig Virgin, who looks a little like Ryne Sandberg, ran for Lebanon and set the meet record in 13 minutes, 50.6 seconds. That was back in 1972.
Since then, only two runners, who, like a Virgin, have gone under the 14-minute barrier – Neuqua Valley’s Chris Derrick (13:52 in 2007) and the great Lukas Verzbicas of Sandburg (13:52 in 2010).
Fithian Oakwood senior Jon Davis, a Class 1A runner, thought he could have a shot at breaking the Ryno-lookalike’s mark. He had a great race and gave it a great effort and was 45 seconds in front of his nearest competitor. But he finished at 14 minutes flat and my chance to see history fell flat.
Earlier in the day, in the Class 1A girls race, Effingham’s Anna Sophia Keller was taking aim at Glenbard West’s Madeline Perez’s 2012 mark of 16:02. The junior won her third straight individual title with a 16:21 but no record.
She did however, lap a couple of competitor on the three-mile course.
That’s not an official record, but I couldn’t find anyone around the park who didn’t day “I’ve never seen THAT before.’’
So I was ready to call it a day on seeing a huge record fall until the girls Class 3A race.
Naperville North’s Judy Pendergast, who finished 23rd in the state as a freshman, 44th as a sophomore and had all kinds of health issues her junior year but still zoomed up to ninth place in the state meet with a 17:06, was ready for the challenge.
This year, she was having a superb season and some thought she had a shot at breaking the 16-minute barrier. I wasn’t so sure. But I was there at the finish line, camera in hand, just in case.
She not only broke the record, she stomped that record into powder with a 15:54.
“The power of what she did was pretty impressive,” her coach, Dan Iverson said.
So I was able to watch some great history before settling in for the main event – Sandburg’s state title.
I took so many photos at the cross country meet that during the first quarter of the Lincoln-Way North-Richards my camera battery was getting a little low.
After the quarter ended with the score at 0-0, I was able to find an outlet for my charger on the Bulldogs scoreboard. So for a good 15 minutes or so, I was working the scoreboard harder than the two offenses were.
Lucky I didn’t have that problem when I got to the Barrington-Marist game. With the two teams scoring 115 points, I might have short-circuited the board if I plugged my charger in there.
Hoops, there it is
The next two issues of this newspaper will have an extra treat for basketball fans. We will have a special section for the girls and women next Thursday and the boys and men on Nov. 26.
These sections will have capsules, photos, rosters and schedules of our area high schools and colleges. We hope this will kick off what promises to be an exciting season on the right foot.
Players of the Year
In lieu of all-area teams for two sports, we are opening things up and will be presenting Player of the Year stories starting soon.
We will be honoring the top players from nine fall sports – boys and girls golf, girls tennis, boys soccer, boys and girls cross country, girls swimming, girls volleyball and football. Anthony Nasella and myself will be cranking those stories out and we will start running them two or three at a time starting either next week or Nov. 26, depending on how many football teams are still alive after the quarterfinals.