STERLING – After running in extremely large crowds the past two weekends in Peoria, Saturday’s Rock River Run at Hoover Park was a piece of cake for the Dixon Dukes.
Simon Thorpe won the individual title, and the Dukes placed five runners in the top 11 to easily run away with the team title.
“It’s good that we’ve run the state course [at Detweiller Park] twice already,” Thorpe said, “but it’s good to be back up here after getting beat up down in Peoria. This is a nice course, and there are so many Dixon people here to see us, and it’s great to win against this competition.”
As happy as Dixon was to beat everybody, Sterling was equally ecstatic to beat everybody else.
The Dukes’ 29 points easily led the field, and the Golden Warriors’ 68 points was good enough to take runner-up honors on their home course. Belvidere North (83) and Geneva (93) were the only other teams to break 100.
“I thought Belvidere North might get us,” Sterling coach Charlie Bishop said, “but the guys ran great today and really earned that second spot.”
Thorpe covered the 3-mile course in 15:38, 9 seconds faster than runner-up Eryk Yunk of Belvidere North (15.47). Sterling freshman John Landis was hot on Yunk’s heels in 15:49, and Dixon senior Cody Sondgeroth finished fourth in 15:57.
“The team goal was to win it, and my individual goal was to win it, as well,” Thorpe said. “I thought we had a really good chance to do both, and today was a good day.”
Senior R.J. Trevino (sixth, 16:13) and junior Evan Grady (seventh, 16:15) added top-10 finishes for the Dukes, and senior Skylar Mitchell was one of three runners to finish in 16:30; he was awarded 11th.
“We’re definitely getting to where we need to be,” Sondgeroth said. “We want to have our top five keep working, keep tweaking, find what works and keep improving. Today was a nice little change-up from the last 2 weeks in Peoria, and I’m pretty happy with the way I ran personally and how all the guys ran as a team.”
Sterling took four of the six spots between 14th and 19th, with sophomore Nick Olds (14th, 16:39), senior Keaton Dir (15th, 16:41), junior Zach Alston (17th, 16:46) and sophomore Cody Lund (19th, 16:49) providing a strong pack that easily outran Belvidere North’s third through fifth runners.
“My main goal was to try and get into the top five,” Landis said, “but I also wanted to try and get some of my teammates close behind to back me up. Without them, I’m just a lonely runner, but they all did a great job at having my back today. It’s a really good feeling.”
Landis, whose older brothers, Jake and Josh, also ran cross country at Sterling, isn’t worried about what he’ll do for an encore now that he’s taken third in the Rock River Run as a freshman.
“I’m not really into setting specific times for goals; I just want to try not to die midway through the race,” Landis said. “Now, though, I guess I’m going to have to try and beat my older brothers’ times.”
Sycamore’s Adam Millburg rounded out the top five individuals in 16:04, and the Spartans also rounded out the top five as a team with 112 points.
Rock River Run
Top 3 teams: 1. Dixon 29; 2. Sterling 68; 3. Belvidere North 83
Individual winner: Simon Thorpe, Dixon, 15:38
Other locals in top 5: 3. John Landis, Sterling, 15:49; 4. Cody Sondgeroth, Dixon, 15:57