LANSING | Illiana Christian's Tony Wondaal summed up Saturday's Rich Dust Invitational nicely.
"It's hot," Wondaal said after the race. "It's hard to keep up your pace, but you just have to keep pushing through."
Wondall ran strong throughout the boys varsity race, battling Luke and Louis Henderson from Rich South, to capture first place for the Vikings in a time of 16:04.56.
Officials were unable to determine if the time was a record at North Creek Meadows since the course has been changed over the past two seasons. Teammate Matt Hall took fourth for Illiana Christian in 16:30.
"I love the competition," Wondaal said. "I'm so glad there was other guys up with me and Matt to push us. Good competition. I'm very happy with today."
Hall was not too pleased with his fourth-place finish and hopes the invite will be a stepping stone to greater things this season. The Vikings boys captured first place in the team competition with 38 points while Oswego East finished second with 70 points.
"We had the Irish Conditioner on Wednesday, so I was running pretty hard at that meet," Hall said. "I think that's the thing that kind of hurt me today. I didn't feel as comfortable today."
The Henderson brothers of Rich South captured second and third while Bloom Township's Jacob Hernandez captured fifth in 16:31. Hernandez struggled throughout the race with footing, and the extreme heat had a definite effect on overall times. Many runners also felt it was still early in the season, and times will drop as the season goes along.
"I slid down a couple of times," Hernandez said. "Once you stop completely, you have to build it right back up, and that's just as hard at the same pace. I had to build it up like three times in the race. I got fifth in the end. It's not what I wanted to get, but I still plan on getting up to them in the next race."
In the varsity girls race, Oswego East captured the team title with 43 points along with capturing the top three spots in the race. Illiana Christian's Alexa Beezhold captured fourth place for the Vikings in 20:36.
"I think I did pretty good considering it's really hot," Beezhold said. "We got the season started well, so that's good."
Emma Pawlowski was edged out at the finish line and took seventh for the Vikings. The Vikings girls took second in the team competition behind Oswego East. Thornton Township's Maritza Najera placed 18th in 21:45.
"It's a really good start to the season," Pawlowski said. "As a team as a whole I think we have a really good team. The heat was really bad, and it's probably slowed down our pace. I just tried to keep up with (Alexa), and she did amazing."