BELVIDERE – If the Dixon Dukes weren’t included in the discussion of the top three teams in Class 2A boys cross country throughout the season, they will be after Saturday.
The Dukes placed second behind Belvidere North at the Belvidere Sectional – a field made up of most of the heavyweights in the class in 2012.
Dixon will get another crack at the Blue Thunder at next week’s state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
“This is what we’ve been working for all season,” Dixon junior Skylar MItchell said. “I feel like we are peaking at the right time, and that we have all the momentum going into next week.”
Mitchell was the fourth Duke into the chute at 16 minutes, 4 seconds, placing 27th. Austin Trevino was behind him as the final scorer in 40th at 16:22.
Both Trevino and Mitchell will need to cut time to help make up the difference between the Dukes and Belvidere North.
The Thunder won the meet with 47 points. Dixon had 96 with Deerfield right behind at 108 and Crystal Lake Central at 109.
“We know that it’s really close between us and the next couple teams,” Dixon coach Evan Thorpe said. “We tapered our girls this week, and they came out really strong today. We look to put our boys through the final taper this coming week, and hopefully we will get the same sort of results.”
Motivating the Dukes this season was the pang of regret after missing the state cut as a team last year. With the core of the team returning, the goal was to return to Detweiller – where Dixon won a 2A state title in 2008.
“We were really disappointed by not going to state last year,” junior Cody Sondgeroth said. “We wanted to get the team back there, and it feels great to have done it with this team this year.”
Sondgeroth finished in 10th in 15:37. Roy Hummel was right behind him in 15:40 (13th).
Dixon was led by junior Simon Thorpe, who placed fifth in 15:28.
Thorpe was passed by Belvidere North’s Paxson Menard near the end of the race, and finished 4 seconds behind him.
The fight for first came down to the final kick, as Belvidere North’s Garrett Lee finished in 14:49.0, just ahead of Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Baker at 14:49.7.
A young Sterling team was unable to send any runners to the state meet. They finished in 13th with 360 points. Keaton Dir placed in 49th in 16:32. That was a good time, considering that Dir battled illness throughout the week.
“I’ve had a sore throat, and it’s really bothered me during workouts this week,” said Dir, a junior. “I started pretty slow, but then I really pushed it the third mile to get a PR.”
Dir was followed by freshmen Nick Olds (67, 16:50) and Cody Lund (79, 17:09). Sterling will return its entire lineup next year.
“They packed together well,” coach Charlie Bishop said. “Overall I think we ran pretty well today. Not well enough to get any one through, but it’s something they can learn from. With the caliber of teams here, it was sort of a mini-state meet. We can take a lot from that.”
1. Belvidere North 47
4. Crystal Lake Central109