KANKAKEE | Griffin and Grant Nykaza, Beecher's cross country dynamic duo, set their goals high for Wednesday's Bishop McNamara Irish Conditioner.
The brothers were shooting to break 29 minutes in the six-mile course where a pair of runners run alternate 1-mile splits on the wooded path at Small Memorial Park in Kankakee. The Nykaza tandem fell a little short of their high standard, but the combined time of 29:37 broke their own meet record (29:45) set last year and led the Bobcats to the title in the season-opening meet.
"We wanted to run a little faster, but it's the first race of the season," Griffin Nykaza said. "It's the hardest I've ran since track state. I didn't know what to expect, but now I know where I am with my training."
Grant Nykaza said the team warmed up a little longer before the race, which may have kept the times down.
"My thighs were kind of a little heavy, but I ran through it," he said.
Beecher won the title with 9 points, with Illiana Christian second with 17. Pontiac took third with 40, followed by Gardner-South Wilmington (53), Bradley-Bourbonnais (59), Central (60) and Prairie Central (83).
Beecher's Jordan Joaquin and Matt Hensen were third overall in 31:27, and Aaron Borgman and Dan Knuth were fifth.
"As a team we did very, very well," said Grant Nykaza.
Beecher is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A.
"We have high expectations for the whole season," Grant Nykaza said.
Matt Hall and Joe Dykstra took second overall (31:13) to pace Illiana.
"The Nykaza brothers, they're good," said Dykstra.
"The way our team looked at it is what we can run at this race, hopefully, a few weeks down the road at the state meet, we can do the exact same thing without rest," Hall said.
Plainfield North swept the top three pairs to run away with the girls title with 6 points, with Illiana second with 25. Bishop McNamara was third (36), followed by Beecher (40), Herscher, Bradley-Bourbonnais, Prairie Central and Pontiac.
Erin Bain and Kaitlyn Holsinger finished fourth overall (25:26) on the 4-mile course.
"I'm very happy with that as well as my top two," Illiana coach Deb Top said. "You never know until your first meet where you're at."
Beecher was led by Katrina Zubi and Larissa Swanson, who placed sixth overall in 25:26.