Despite many injuries, setbacks, boys take strides towards state

With state meet approaching, the team has high expectations and hopes to succeed


Drew Cushing, Online Editor

With the state meet coming up in Peoria on Saturday, Nov. 7, the boys cross country team is preparing for the competition by becoming more focused on what it has to do to be the best at state.

“We are putting in work day in and day out and gradually incorporating race specific workouts that will allow us as a team to peak at state,” captain Matt Begeman ‘16 said.

In order to mentally focus and pump themselves up before practices, the team listens to songs such as “Molly Cyrus” by Stiches and “Hotline Bling” by Drake to get in the zone and ready to run.

The team has also developed a motto for this season, “LTXC vs. Everybody.” The team uses this motto as a way to rally themselves against the competition. This year’s team is also the fastest team in the school’s cross country history, and the runners hope to show their speed by winning state.

This season marks a change for the team with the addition of a new coach, Leo Reyes. Reyes joined the team this season and took the place of Coach Ken Koval, who retired after 35 years of coaching. Along with changes from the varsity team of last year, the team looks to improve even more upon its third place finish from last year.

“These guys have been around some successful teams from the past so I think they know what to do and what not to do by observing those teams, and they know what it takes to be successful,” coach Jake Discipio said. “Coach Mike Danner, the head coach, has laid it all out for them and he really knows what he’s doing and they’ve learned to trust his judgment and his plan and he’s the one that allows them to become successful.”

The top runners on the team set an example for others too both through their racing performances and also through the advice they give to the underclassmen. One of the team’s best runners, Connor Madell ‘16, is especially a benefit for the team.

“[Madell’s] an upperclassmen who’s experienced success at the highest level and he knows what it takes to be successful,” Discipio said. “He’s someone who has absorbed a lot of knowledge and someone the other kids look up to.”

At the state meet, the team’s biggest competitors will be Sandburg, ranked first in state and also first in the nation, and also Neuqua Valley, ranked third in state. The LT team, currently ranked second in state, placed second to Sandburg at a meet in Peoria, Il on Saturday, Oct. 3. In the meet, Vincent Zona ‘17 finished in 3rd, Danny Kilrea ‘18 in 7th, and Madell in 12th.

Despite the second place finish, the boys cross country runners think they still have room to improve and grow. At the Peoria meet, Sandburg had a 14 second gap between their first and fifth runner while LT had a 39 second gap.

“Our biggest weakness is not keeping the pack tight for our top five runners,” Madell said. “The time split between the first and fifth team runner is a leading factor in the state competition because guys at state are coming in so fast so getting that pack time down helps.”