ST. CHARLES – Two seconds were all that stood between Aidan Donohue and a trip to state.
The DeKalb senior cross country runner ran a 16:14.1 Friday in the Class 3A St. Charles East Sectional, falling two seconds behind Neuqua Valley’s Aidan Stone’s 16:12 for the final qualifying spot.
“I just wanted to qualify for state and leave everything on the course,” Donahue said of his 29th-place finish. “It’s my senior year, and I wanted to do everything I possibly could. When I finished, I had nothing left in the tank. I felt satisfied. That’s the first time I can say that this season.”
The other top two runners for DeKalb ran closely together with Donohue. Riley Newport was 31st with 16:17.7 and Emmanuel Yepiz was 32nd with 16:18.1.
“With boys all season long, we’ve been strong at 1-2-3,” DeKalb coach Mike Wolf said. “These guys run really well together. They were real close together [Friday]. They were on the outside of qualifying as individuals.”
The DeKalb boys team was ninth with 244 points. St. Charles East won the sectional with 29 points.
“It’s top level here,” Wolf said. “We were aiming for top 10.”
Both the boys and girls agreed that the conditions were less than ideal. Mud covered most of the runners at the finish line.
“There were a lot of really slick turns, and the mud and puddles were pretty hard to maneuver through,” Donahue said.
Annika Burchell, a DeKalb sophomore for the girls team, finished 73rd with 20:27.4. The course conditions were an obstacle for her to overcome as well.
“It was really, really wet from the first 200 meters,” Burchell said. “You started, and you were immediately soaked and kicking up water. Coming into the race and realizing what the conditions were and how muddy it was, I think I realized it would be a day to fight for spots. I focused on the second half of the race and staying strong when it got tough and holding places and passing people in the end.”
Leah Valenliner was 92nd with 21:46.8, and Andrea Porcayo finished 110th with 22:28.7. As a team, DeKalb was 17th with 504 total points. Naperville North took first with 44.
“We talked all week long about this being our strongest race of the season,” Wolf said. “We weren’t looking at place or time, just where we could improve on what we did this season.”