Grant Nykaza felt it was a near-perfect day for running.
The Beecher sophomore ran an almost-perfect race Saturday at the Class 1A Decatur St. Teresa Sectional at Hickory Point Golf Course.
Nykaza won the race in 15 minutes, 13 seconds as the Bobcats won the meet with 51 points. Monticello was second with 89.
Beecher and four other schools advanced to Saturday's state championship meet at Peoria's Detweiller Park.
His brother, Griffin, a senior, was second (15:20) and Monticello's Steve Schroeder was third (15:26).
"I kind of stayed behind Schroeder to stay protected from the wind and with about 450 (yards) left, I started my kick and took off," Grant Nykaza, a sophomore, said. "This was big for us because we wanted to get back to state.
"It was just a great day to run. A little windy, but you can't have everything."
Schroeder had beaten Grant Nykaza at the Peoria Woodruff Invitational and he knew he would have a challenge.
"Steve is the second-best runner in Class 1A, so I knew he would run a good race," Grant Nykaza said. "I am sure he will be ready for state."
Beecher junior Aaron Borgman was 12th (16:08), senior Jordan Joaquin (16:16.19) was 16th and Matt Hansen was 24th (16:36). Borgman's time was a personal record.
"I started out with Grant and Griffin, but it didn't work out because they were up there with Schroeder," Borgman said. "I stayed back with Jordan, but he was falling back and he told me to go, so I took off."
Grant said he is looking forward to the state meet. Last year, Beecher was sixth.
"I think we are running with confidence and we've been there before, so it helps," Grant Nykaza said. "We have had a good training routine all year and we are in real good shape."