KANKAKEE | On a near-perfect day for running, Illiana Christian’s boys team was nothing short of perfection at Wednesday’s Irish Conditioner.
Illiana’s pairs finished 1-2-3 to take the team title with six points, outdistancing runner-up Bradley-Bourbonnais (36 points). Seneca was third with 46 points.
"Everybody did what they wanted to do," Illiana coach Jim Piaskowy said. “We had goals for each runner, and they did it. It’s an impressive day for varsity and fresh-soph.”
It was a clean sweep for Illiana as the girls also took the team title.
Nick Fiene and Kevin Vroegh combined to finish first overall in completing the six miles in 29:30 on the flat, wooded course. Nick and Tony Wondaal took second in 29:48, while Austin Gibson and Tommy McGuire took third in 31:28.
“This is our first real test, and we passed it,” Piaskowy said.
Vroegh said running with a partner helped in getting the win.
“It was nice to have our second pair right there,” he said.
Fiene ran at the same time as Tony Wondaal, while Vroegh was running when Nick Wondaal was on the course. Each runs three one-mile splits.
“We really got to work together throughout the race, and then at the end we got to kick hard,” Fiene said.
The Vikings are rated No. 1 in Class 2A, but Fiene said it’s not too much of a distraction.
“There’s definitely a little bit of pressure, especially like all the online talk and stuff,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, I just try and leave the rankings as they are and go out and run hard and use the gifts the Lord has blessed us with.”
In the girls race, Emma Pawlowski and Alexa Beezhold finished second overall in 24:49 to pace Illiana, which also took third and eight to finish with 13 points to host Bishop McNamara’s 21.
Bradley-Bourbonnais was third with 40 points, followed by Chicago Christian and Beecher.
“It was our first meet, so we really didn’t know what to expect,” Beezhold said. “We just tried to run our best. I know Emma tried to get ahead for me so that we could keep the lead.”
Alex Clausing and Monica Smits finished third overall in 24:51, while Brittany Groen and Elissa Patricks placed eighth in 26:11.
Illiana coach Deb Top was pleased with how her girls ran, having to replace her No. 2 and No. 3 runners from a year ago.
“I expected my first two to run well, but I was really happy with my third girl, Alex Clausing,” she said. “She ran really well, and she ran about fifth or sixth for me last year.”