TINLEY PARK | An advanced level of competition, coupled with less-than-desirable conditions, would likely overwhelm many runners during a given race.
Fortunately for Illiana Christian, Colin DeYoung is not the average runner.
The Vikings senior's 3-mile time of 15 minutes, 32 seconds proved fast enough to win the boys race at Saturday's Class 3A Andrew Regional held at Turtlehead Lake. DeYoung's victory marked the sixth consecutive time an Illiana runner has claimed the top individual spot at a regional meet.
Achieving that honor this time was made more difficult by the strange weather early in the race, specifically a torrential downpour for the first mile and gusty winds thereafter. DeYoung described the extent to which the conditions impacted his performance.
"It was tough (early on) because it was so windy, and the rain hurt in (my) eyes bad," he said. "I think, though, the tougher the race, the better I do, and I pulled my competition down a little (by the end)."
The Vikings also faced the daunting task of competing against strong 3A programs for the first time in a regional after years of dominating in Class 2A. Illiana rose to that challenge, as it finished second in the team standings with 55 points.
Lincoln-Way North (33) took the team title and Joliet Central (69) was third. The top six teams and top five runners on non-qualifying teams will advance to next Saturday's Class 3A Normal Sectional.
Vikings coach Jim Piaskowy said that while the two classes differ minimally, the switch to 3A has still put Illiana's program at a slight disadvantage.
"We're actually a 1A school competing in a 3A class, which is the insanity of it (all)," he said. "It's a penalty (because of our success), but you've got to welcome the challenge.
"We (still) want to make it to state, and our goal is to be top 5."
Elsewhere in the boys team standings, T.F. South (226) placed seventh, with junior Cyrus Dixon (17:15) and senior Brenden Butler (17:56) both qualifying for next weekend's sectional. Dixon, who also advanced individually in 2014, said his performance on Saturday compared to the one in last year's regional suffered a little due to the rough conditions.
"The weather totally threw me off, and I didn't think it'd start hailing like that," he said. "I just tried to get through (it) and push through the wind, which is all I was focused on. My goal (for next week) is to run better than today."
In the girls race, Rebels freshman Madison Drewno was the leading local runner and South's lone sectional qualifier, clocking a 20:12 en route to ninth place.
Drewno took pleasure in finishing all-regional in her inaugural high school running campaign, especially when considering her growth since middle school cross country.
"I started (running) in sixth grade and I've improved my times a lot (since then)," she said. "The girls I ran with (today) were fast, and (good competition) pushes me to run a better time."
Rebels coach Steve Nelson praised Drewno's all-around effort on Saturday and expressed hope that the freshman's display this season will result in future consistency.
"She's got fight and desire, and she really pushes herself (every race)," Nelson said. "She knows the course next week since she ran it in eighth grade, and improving on her PR will put her right in the mix.
"I expect big things from her in the coming years."
The team standings found Lincoln-Way East (28), Lincoln-Way North (67) and Joliet West (79) occupying the top three spots, while South (200) placed eighth.