By Matt Cuartero
On Nov. 8 at Detweiller Park in Peoria, the IHSA held its 3A State Cross Country competition. This is the second time in Batavia history that the Batavia Boys Cross Country team made it down to state, and to add to that, this is also the second consecutive qualifying team in BHS history.
Last year, the team graduated two powerhouse runners in Mitch Zabka and Chris Orlow. However, this year’s team qualified for the IHSA State competition against all odds, with Zach Choffin, Shawn Adams, Keaton Keller, Shea Bastien, and Captains David Morrison, Patrick Redmond, and Ryan Wieties clinching a third place victory in the IHSA Sectionals competition. Following its Sectional victory, the Batavia Varsity Boys ran against 26 other State-qualifying teams, running some very impressive mile splits and finishing 22nd as a team.
Not only did the boy’s cross country team qualify for state, but the girls’ also entered their way into the IHSA State meet. The girls who qualified for the IHSA meet were senior Miranda Rea, junior Dakota Roman, and freshmen Emma Stephens, Daphne Kolody, Mary Grace Golden, Anna Malay, and Erica Mansfield. They ran a great Sectional meet as well, and they placed a solid fourth place, getting them into state.
Junior state-qualifier Shea Bastien said that the boys’ experience last year helped them prepare mentally for the State competition this year.
¨Because this was our second time (going down state), the team was much more prepared,¨ Bastien said. ¨We had a clue about the competition and we knew how to prepare. We knew exactly what we were going to come up against. In terms of mindset, we had a more confident one due to our second time going. We made sure we remembered about the turns, where our team could get boxed in pretty badly and where a lot of kids could fall on the course. All in all, we were better prepared for the race at hand.¨
Being the second time Batavia has ever qualified, the cross country team had some doubts about the race. Although the team had mixed feelings about the meet itself, they set goals and the team’s top seven runners were ready to run their hardest.
¨Our main goal for the team was to get top 16 in State,¨ Bastien said. ¨Ryan Wieties’ goal was to break 15, try to get even lower than 14:59 (for the 3 mile). David Morrison and Patrick Redmond’s goal was to get as close to 15 flat as possible. My (Bastien) goal was to break 15:30, and the other three runners on the top seven wanted to break 16 for the state meet. We walked the course the day before the competition and it’s a really fast course. There aren’t any hills or wide turns, however there is one hard turn in the beginning. A lot of the kids actually end up walking in the first hard turn in the beginning, so we had to really attack the first part by the start of the race. After the pack thins out, it is easy to get around kids, and it is just a fast course in general. It is a reliable course and have been used for many years.¨
In addition to their performance at the State meet, Bastien also had comments about both how the team felt during the day of the State meet, as well as the successful run of the Sectional meet.
¨During the day we felt pretty strong, there was a few doubts and nerves, but what we had was a good team that had a chance of actually placing top 16, sadly it didn’t happen,¨ Bastien said. ¨We were a lot more nervous at State than at Sectionals, because we have only gone once before. We were very confident at Sectionals because we knew we were going to do well That is when we started our peaking, so we knew we had that issue on our side. We knew the course at Sectionals (Leroy Oakes) much better than we knew Detweiller, so that was also a big advantage at Sectionals.¨
After a highly successful season, Bastien expressed questions and concerns about his projections for next year’s Varsity Cross Country team.
¨I do have some doubts about the team next year, such as our fifth man,¨ Bastien said. ¨We do have some great guys coming in for top six and seven, however we still need to worry about our fifth man, since there is a big time gap between that place. I feel confident that we will make it down again if we can get that strong fifth man, and I am confident in myself that I can make it down to State myself.¨
Sophomore Drew Pellico was hopeful that the team’s younger runners would step up and continue this team’s winning tradition.
¨We are losing our top three senior runners, Ryan, David, and Patrick, but at the same time we still have strong runners like Shea Bastien around,” Pellico said. ¨We need to make sure that runners such as Zach Choffin and Keaton Keller step it up for the competition next year. The newcomers on Varsity will consist of runners like Michael Bock, Jack Gillerlain, Quinn O’Brien, and those runners will definitely add to our depth of the Varsity team.¨
While the outcome was not as fast as they hoped, some memorable moments during the meet were junior Zach Choffin’s lightning first mile and Shea Bastien’s steady pace, keeping the lead of the fourth, fifth, and sixth man going for Batavia. The team’s 22nd-place finish is impressive, due to our team being the second ever to qualify for state and that our strength in Cross Country has expanded in depth that Batavia has never seen before. These top seven runners have created a Batavia legacy and a name for themselves that will live on for quite some time. The victories of making it to State will change future Batavia cross country runners’ mindsets that we are much stronger than before, which will push newcomers to step up. The future is bright for the Batavia Boys Varsity Cross Country team.
Top 7 Marks & Race Placement
Patrick Redmond (Senior, Captain): 15:35 (132)
Zach Choffin (Junior) : 16:50 (215)
Keaton Keller (Sophmore) : 16:42 (214)
Shea Bastien (Junior) : 15:32(130)
David Morrison (Senior, Captain) : 15:30 (119)
Ryan Wieties (Senior, Captain) : 15:20 (92)
Shawn Adams (Freshman) : 16:21 (202)
Team Placement: 22nd/26th
IHSA Cross Country State Meet
DetWeiller Park. Peoria, Illinois.
November 8th, 2014