There will be at least one competitor in Saturday's Reagan Run who is a former champion at the state and national levels. The runner: Dylan Reyes.
Reyes, a 2010 Newman High School graduate, helped the Comets to the state cross country title in 2009. Last November, he was a key part of the University of St. Francis of Joliet winning the NAIA national cross country championship.
That's quite a bit of success on land for someone who thought his athletic fortunes were going to come in the water.
"I was a swimmer for the longest time," said Reyes, who runs both cross country and track at St. Francis, where he will be a senior. "I was in the pool for 12 years, but I think I found my sport."
Reyes remembers vividly when the light bulb went off that he could be a star distance runner. He ran track since middle school, but was a sprinter.
"In eighth grade, I tried the mile, and I almost broke the school record," Reyes said.
The rest is history. Championship history, that is, although he did play 2 years of high school football before transitioning to cross country his junior year.
As for the Reagan Run, Reyes has been competing the past handful of years or so. He placed fourth last year, his best showing.
"I usually try to keep racing in the summer to a minimum," he said. "But, I do the Reagan Run to test my fitness."
Reyes, who took sixth in the 5K indoors and eighth in the 10K outdoors at the NAIA nationals, said it all depends on how he feels if he'll go for the win.
"I like to be up front with the leaders and see what happens," he said.
At last year's Reagan Run, Reyes tried to hang with winner and two-time champ Paul Zeman, a member of the University of Illinois cross country and track teams, whose winning time was just over a minute faster than that of Reyes – 15:20.15 to 16:30.04.
"I stayed with him for the first mile, then I realized I bit off more than I could chew," Reyes said.
While not certain of what he's going to be when he grows up, Reyes knows what he wants to be: a professional triathlete.
"I'm going to try. That's the goal," he said. "But, I want to get my MBA [Master of Business Administration] at St. Francis. That will probably take one more year."
He did a sprint triathlon before college. That involved a 400-yard swim, a 14-mile bike ride and a 4-mile run.
He wants to up the ante, big time. He wants to do an Iron Man triathlon, which involves a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and the standard 26.2-mile marathon.
High school: Newman, 2010 graduate
College: University of St. Francis (Joliet), NAIA; will be senior this fall
Family: (Parents) Marvin and Pam; (siblings) Ryan, Tyler, Kylie, Bryson.
FYI: Member of 2009 Newman state champion cross country team; member of 2012 St. Francis national champion cross country team