PEORIA – As if Micah Trancoso needed more support, considering the Newman Comets’ team-first credo.
The junior said after the 1A boys state cross country race at Detweiller Park in Peoria that he’d never experienced such pain, or cried after a race like he did Saturday.
After about 1,000 of the 5,000 meters, his ailing IT band became a veritable inferno. So he forced himself out of his body to find success well outside his comfort zone.
“I go and spectate,” Trancoso said. “I feel like I’m watching, just yelling at this kid to go and go, to push it. I’m kind of yelling at myself just to keep going, that it’s just a little bit farther to the line.”
When Trancoso crossed that line, he crashed to the earth with a 127th-place finish in 16:43. It helped the Comets to a 12th-place finish with 351 points. St. Thomas More won with 82 points, 75 fewer than runner-up Elmwood-Brimfield. Shelbyville (162) rounded out the podium.
Trancoso said he wasn’t satisfied. His teammates felt differently.
“I’m very proud of him,” said sophomore Quincy Coomes (94th, 16:22).
“He’s the main reason we went to state,” said sophomore Bryson Reyes (28th, 15:50). “Everybody had to step it up at sectionals. We knew he was in pain, but it was a mind-over-matter thing. He kept pushing.”
“That means the world coming from some of my best friends,” Trancoso said. “We all run for each other until we drop, and we have each other’s backs.”
Also ailing was the only Newman senior, Alex DeForest (100th, 16:26). He somewhat blew out his knee Monday, resulting in water on his knee.
“It was just a matter of him getting over the feeling of it,” Newman assistant coach Pat
Warkins said. “He told me the feeling was different. It was a little stiff, but once he got going, I’m sure he completely forgot about it.”
DeForest had something else on his mind, anyway.
“Going into the race, I put a saying into my head: ‘It’s not how fast you go. It’s how slow you don’t go,’ ” DeForest said. “I say that to myself before a race, and it gets me going. Knowing today was my last race, I had to go all-out on the course.”
Trancoso was the only Comet who didn’t PR. In fact, Drew Rosengren’s 16:49 (137th) broke his mark by more than 20 seconds. When he kicked across the finish line, head coach Val Gassman danced on the grandstand, pumping both arms and hollering “Oh, my God. He smashed 17 minutes!”
“You can’t ask for any more,” Gassman said. “They did their best on the day that it counted. You have to step up to the plate today, and they all did – all seven of them.”
Rock Falls’ Cole 15th, BV’s Taylor 49th: Brandt Cole got in on the PR party and was all smiles afterward.
“Always big expectations; always,” said the Rock Falls senior, whose 15:13 was good for 15th and missed 14th by mere tenths. “I wanted top-10, and it was right there. But I couldn’t feel my arms, I couldn’t feel my legs, I wasn’t breathing. I was just dead, man. So I went as hard as I could, and wherever I ended up, I ended up.
“But I told myself before the race that if I give it everything I have and leave it all out there, I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. And I gave it everything I had today.”
Cole slipped when the gun sounded, but was still able to entrench himself in the mid-teens throughout the race. Unfortunately, his dad was unable to see his boy’s last prep race, the only one he’s missed; a contractor for ComEd, he’s been on the East Coast all week, helping with the recovery efforts after superstorm Sandy.
“Obviously, I wish he could’ve been here,” Cole said. “But you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Those people need him more than me.”
The other Sauk Valley-area individual runner, Bureau Valley junior Ryan Taylor, clocked 15:52 for 49th, a 14-spot improvement over his 2011 state debut.
Nykaza breaks record: Grant Nykaza flexed as he tore down the homestretch, soaking in the roar of the peanut gallery.
In the Beecher senior's mind, there was no reason to exclusively dedicate his energy to setting the new Class 1A record as low as possible.
He believes the mark still belongs to Winnebago's Jeremy Stevens, who won the Class A title in 14:18 at the 2005 state meet, before the two classes became three.
"Since they took away Jeremy Stevens' 14:18, I still believe he has the record," said Nykaza, who will run at Florida State. "I didn't get it today."
Nykaza's honor aside, he now owns the 1A mark, shattering the 14:28 standard set by Monticello's Steve Schroeder last year.