Unlikely hero Vrchota happy to help D.J. Piehowski Nov 14, 2008

Junior Doug Vrchota had the chance to be the unlikely hero of last weekend’s Illinois Class 1A State Championship race after his Elmwood Trojans came out on the high-end of an emotional rollercoaster at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.

Vrchota entered Saturday’s race as Elmwood’s number-six runner, but turned out to be the deciding factor after an unusual turn of events ultimately led to the school’s first-ever state cross country title.

Naperville North clips York, Thode garners unlikely win D.J. Piehowski Nov 08, 2008

Snow and sleet fell from the sky as runners took to the line at Peoria’s Detweiller Park on Saturday, but that wasn’t even the most unexpected occurrence of the 2008 IHSA State Cross Country meet.The US #4 favorite Elmhurst (York) was edged out by US #5 Naperville North by just one point in the Class 3A boys’ race.

Naperville North was led by top-10 finishes from Kyle Gibson and David McWilliams on its way to totaling 84 points and winning the state title. Gibson took home fourth place at 14:23, while McWilliams grabbed eighth with his time of 14:35.

“To win in a state meet this deep, where there are so many places to switch spots, our kids really needed to run great,”said Naperville North Coach David Racey. “Beating a team like York was tremendous, and with as good as Geneva ran, it really just shows how great Illinois cross country is.”

York was led by the usual duo of Steven Sulkin and Jordan Hebert, who took second and third on the day. The two Dukes were right on the heels of the eventual winner, Hoffman Estates Conant’s Jeff Thode, but couldn’t catch him in what turned out to be a very close 3A race.