BY CHAD DARE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DECATUR — Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac sophomore Jon Davis spent all week working on being able to stick with St. Thomas More senior Nick Hess.
During races this season and especially during last Saturday’s regional meet at Tuscola, Hess has been able to beat Davis with small surges during the 3-mile race.
On Saturday in the IHSA Class 1A sectional meet at Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth, Davis stuck right with Hess on both laps over the 1.5-mile course. When the two runners reached the final 400 meters, Davis went to his kick beating Hess to the finish line.
“That was, by far, my best race ever,’’ said Davis, who had a winning time of 14 minutes, 46 seconds. “We worked on surges all week. Hess has always beaten me with his tiny spurts during a race. We worked on those this week and I just tried to execute my game plan.’’
Davis and Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac coach Doug Robinson decided that sticking the hip of Hess was their best course of action.
“Coach told me, ‘if he moves, you move,’’’ Davis said. “With about 400 meters to go, he had one of his surges and I could see that he was settling back into his race pace. Before the meet, we had figured out the final 400 meters with certain landmarks on the course. I knew that if I just gave it my all, that I could run that portion of the course in about a minute.’’
Davis made his move and stretched out a good lead over Hess. With the race in hand, Davis kept pushing over the final 100 meters.
“I thought he was coming after me with the way the fans were reacting,’’ Davis said. “I’m just overjoyed to win this sectional title.
“I feel like I’ve worked really hard this season and I know that I’m a lot more serious about this right now.’’
Davis said the cross country course at Kickapoo proved to be a very valuable asset this week.
“There is no better place to practice,’’ he said. “We came up with a workout this week where I would run my normal race pace, but in one-mile intervals, and we would put surges into certain spots of that run.
“That really god me prepared for this race.’’
Ultimately, the game plan coming into the race and a smart decision during the race proved to be the winning moves for Davis.
“I normally get really nervous before a race and that wastes valuable energy,’’ Davis said. “Today, I was still nervous, but I just kept thinking about what I needed to do. I knew that I needed everything I had for that final kick.
“During the race, I saw Hess and the Mt. Zion kid (Curtis Reed) battling for the lead. I knew they were wasting energy and I just tried to stay right behind them, letting them block the wind for me.’’
With the first-place finish. Davis advances to next Saturday’s IHSA Class 1A state meet at Detweiler Park in Peoria. The Class 1A boys race is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
Chrisman’s Colton Wyatt and Wyatt Avenatti both finished with a time of 17:12 as Wyatt was credited with 71st and Avenatti earned 72nd.
In the girls sectional race, Hoopeston Area’s Maddie Brown was the top local finisher with a 63rd-place finish and a time of 20:43. Neither her nor her Cornjerker teammates were able to advance to next week’s state meet. Also failing to punch their ticket for Peoria were Bismarck-Henning’s Luci Nixon (21:11) who finished 74th and Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac’s Shaina Andrews (21:33) who wound up 89th.