PEORIA — Danville senior Johnny Leverenz started his day with a cold shower.
But that was the only thing that went wrong for the area’s top distance runner on Saturday.
Leverenz finished second to Glenbard South’s John Wold in the IHSA Class 2A state cross country meet at Detweiller Park.
“I feel great. I just got second place in state. It’s awesome,’’ said the normally reserved Leverenz. “It was a tough race — it was grueling.
“That first mile (4:29) that was a hurter. After that, my legs were so dead, but I just had to keep pushing, I couldn’t give up.’’
Wold, who was also the state champion last year, opened up a sizeable lead (about 15 seconds) in the race’s second mile. It looked like Leverenz was going to have to worry about holding off Jake and Luke Hoffert from Yorkville in the final mile.
But in the race’s final 800 meters, Wold started to struggle and Leverenz closed fast, finishing just two seconds behind the state champion.
“I think if there was another 50 or 100 meters more, I might have been able to beat him,’’ said Leverenz, whose time was 14 minutes, 40 seconds. “I didn’t give up and I held my own.
“Now, my mind wanted to give up and my body wanted to give up, but I kept telling myself that I couldn’t give up.’’
Leverenz, who has cruised to a regional and sectional championship in the past two weeks. came into Saturday’s race just wanting to stay on Wold’s hip.
“My plan was to go with about 800 meters left. I was going to try to outkick him,’’ said Leverenz, who had to change his strategy on the fly. “I wasn’t expecting us to run a 4:29 opening mile. I thought we would be 4:40 at best and I could have held on with a 4:40 opening mile.