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Jacksonville Invitational

October 2, 2011

Yesterday was a big ol’ invitational meet in Jacksonville (it’s about 30 miles west of Springfield, for those of you who ain’t from around here). Lots of schools involved. Grant, Washington, and Franklin from here in Springfield, but conspicuous by their absence, to the delight of Lincoln’s team, was Chatham Glenwood, the team that literally swept the flights at the Franklin meet a couple weeks ago.

When I first got to the J’ville Community Park, right around noon, it was already crazy. Apparently, this invitational is an all-day thing. High school XC teams were running races as I pulled up. Saw Springfield High, but didn’t notice any other city schools in attendance. I have to assume that SHG doesn’t have a cross-country team because all of their athletics money is tied up in buying football players.

So I scout out the course while I’m waiting for Ian’s bus to arrive. It’s a very flat park, much like Rotary Park, the site of Ian’s very first meet this season, except way more {full-grown} trees. The start-finish line was almost in the center of the park. Runners headed outward toward the perimeter of the park, ran around the ferris wheel (I’m ashamed to admit that I never actually saw any ferris wheel), then all the way around the perimeter and back into the center of the park, in the opposite direction in which they started, to the finish line and chute. Kind of a problem, though, in that unless you’re looking for the lines indicating the course, you can inadvertently walk right through the center of the race. Especially problematic when you consider that it was nearly impossible to tell who was practicing and who was actually running the race in progress.

I’ll have you know that I didn’t get “GET OFF THE COURSE!” yelled at me once, thank you very much.

Ian’s team bus arrived somewhere around 12:20 or so (their meet started at 2:00), so I got with them and just sort of hung out. I showed the kids where the bathroom was, tossed out a few “Guys, settle down!” at the ones that were playing grab-ass and what not, and just sort of pretended I was supposed to be there. The kids got their tags eventually, and time was ticking down toward the start of their races.

The 5th, 6th, and 7th grade girls ran at 2:00, followed by the 5th, 6th, & 7th grade boys at 2:30, then the 8th grade girls at 3:00, and the 8th grade boys at 3:30. Times and team rankings didn’t appear to be a factor so much as their years in school.

Around 1:15 or so, Ian decided he needed a hot dog. So we went to the concession stand, and while we were there, my dad made it to the park, and we met up with him. After snarfing his hot dog, Ian and his teammates went to walk the course, so Dad and I chitchatted for a while.

The girls’ race finished up, and a few minutes later, the boys were off and running. Ian passed by Dad and me a couple times, and he was looking very good. The finish was great- it seemed like every single kid really turned on the Flux capacitors once they got within about 200 yards of the chute. In a little while, here comes Ian. He passed a couple kids on his way in, and almost caught one of his teammates, en route to a 14:35 finish.


It’s an unofficial time (natch), but he finished something like 97th, and again, no idea how many kids were in his race. They haven’t even posted the official times from Thursday’s meet yet. Ian’s not really “accepting” 14:35 as “official”, since he and quite a few other kids said they believe the course wasn’t [close to] a full two miles. Ian’s comment: “It couldn’t have been two miles- I wasn’t even tired at the end of this race.” I told Ian that, if they indicate exactly how long the course was, we can figure what his two-mile time would have been, but if they don’t, we have no choice but to assume it was two miles and go with it.

Either way, two miles or not, skewed time or not, I was very impressed with how well he did. He had said several times yesterday that he “knows he’s not going to beat his best time because he hates flat courses”, but he did a pretty good job of kicking this flat course’s ass, two miles or not two miles.

Next meet is tomorrow at Lincoln Park, and then sectionals in East St. Louis on Saturday the 8th. I’m trying not to get too excited about the possibility of Ian making the sectional team, even if as an alternate, mainly because I don’t want to be responsible for him being crushed if he doesn’t wind up making it, but things are really starting to look promising, with the way he’s run in the last 2-3 meets.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Marjorie Stearns permalink
    October 2, 2011 6:04 pm

    Love reading your insider’s reports! Yay, Ian!

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