STERLING – Dixon cross country coach Evan Thorpe spoke to his runners Saturday morning before the start of the boys race at the Sterling Invitational at Hoover Park.
The runners were squeezing in the last bit of stretching before the 3-mile run against some of the toughest competition the Dukes will see this season.
“This is your chance to show what you can do,” Thorpe told the runners. “We’ve been underrated all season. It’s time to make a statement.”
The statement became clear after the 3 miles, as the Dukes were second only to Pleasant Valley (Iowa) in the 24-team meet.
“This is the best a Dixon boys team has ever done at the Sterling Invite,” Thorpe said. “We’ve been waiting all season for this kind of performance. We feel like we’re a top-five-in-the-state kind of team, we just hadn’t shown it until today.”
The Dukes were led by Simon Thorpe, the coach’s son, who placed fourth in 15 minutes, 19 seconds. Pleasant Valley’s Caleb Drake won in 15:01.
Thorpe had to elude one obstacle on the way. As the pack of leaders neared the 2-mile mark, Minooka’s Joey Santillo was leading. Santillo missed a stride and fell right in front of a group of runners that included Thorpe who, along with the other runners, was able to avoid Santillo as he tried to recover.
“Simon was really beat up by the end of this one,” Evan Thorpe said. “He finished and said he felt horrible. His hip and leg were bothering him. We’re hoping its nothing too serious.”
The other story for the Dukes was Roy Hummel, who has consistently been the No. 5 runner in the Dixon pack. On Saturday, he was second into the chute for Dixon. He placed 19th in 15:50.
“I think everything just clicked today,” Hummel said. “We’ve been trying some new things and training hard. That all came together, and I woke up this morning feeling great.”
Skylar Mitchell finished 26th for Dixon (15:57). He was followed by Cody Sondgeroth in 40th (16:12) and R.J. Trevino (16:18).
Rock Falls’ Brandt Cole placed 21st in 15:50. Cole faired well against a field of teams larger than the Rockets.
“We try to amp up the competition at the end of the season,” Rock Falls coach Mark Truesdell said. “Brandt ran really well today, and this will get him ready for the next few weeks.”
Rock Falls finished 18th as team with 501 points.
Sterling was in 15th at 360. Keaton Dir (48th – 16:19) led the Warriors. Sterling’s next group of runners did a nice job of packing together.
Zach Alston and Ethan Rocha both came in at 16:41. Freshman Nick Olds was just 7 seconds behind them.
1. Pleasant Valley 103
1. Caleb Drake, Pleasant Valley15:01
2. Caleb Beck, Oswego15:02
3. Evan Prizy, Schaumberg15:11