Wheaton’s Men’s Cross Country team started the season with a fifth place win last Friday at the Aurora Spartan Cross Country Classic. Personal records abounded as the Wheaton men competed against ten other teams, scoring 123 points. Sophomore Seth Massot placed 14th as the first Wheaton Thunder competitor to cross the finish line, marking a time of 26:17.7. Right behind him, Senior Miles Trujillo finished in 17th place, recording a time of 26:25.8. Jonah Jones rounded out the Wheaton top three with a time of 26:47.6, which gained him 27th place out of 143 runners.
The team’s performance has raised the hopes of the athletes for the rest of the season. “We were very happy with our race on Friday. I think that six of our top seven ran personal bests, along with many more,” senior Tyler Jones said. “It was a nearly perfect day on a fast course so we have to remember that as we set expectations for the season, but it’s always nice to start the season on a positive note.” Senior Hudson Thomas agreed, saying, “I felt really good about how we raced on Friday. We had really good racing conditions and the course is a bit short so we had a ton of personal bests, which feels great going into the season.”
Though they weren’t pushing their hardest, Coach Walford said his team competed very well and he hopes to see them improve as the team starts each race more aggressively throughout the season.
The athletes seemed to appreciate this strategy. “Going out slower and finishing faster is a great way to get comfortable with progressively pushing harder throughout the race and it’s always fun to pass a ton of people in the last couple of miles,” said Jones.
Coach Walford also praised the team dynamic this year and applauded the team captains on both the guys and girls teams. “The captains are the ones who really set the tone. The team dynamic is very strong.” Jones says he enjoys his new role as a senior and team captain, participating in “behind-the-scenes” happenings he didn’t notice as an underclassman. “I think my favorite part of being a senior is the power to set the tone for the culture of our team,” Jones said. “I think our team is as close as we’ve ever been for this time of year. We’ve got a great, goofy crew that knows how to work hard and still have a ton of fun.”
The Men’s Cross Country team anticipates improving throughout the rest of the season. Walford has aimed his team towards success in coming races. “Our goal would be to get third and as close to top ten as we can .”
The athletes have also set strong goals for their individual seasons. “I set my PR for 8k at this past meet, 27:16. I’d love to run low 26 by the end of the season. I’ve been injured a lot so hopefully just being healthy will be enough to get me there,” Thomas said.
Jones says he would enjoy competing at the highest level for his team, “I personally just want to make sure that I am always in the mix for a varsity spot this year. We have a very deep team with many guys who can fill the … spots so everybody will have to run their absolute best or else another guy will be there.”
Wheaton’s Men’s Cross Country team will be back at it on Sept. 16, hosting the Gil Dodds invitational at 10 a.m. at St. James Farm in Warrenville.