IHSA State Championships 2022
DFDC COMPLETES HISTORIC REBUILD SEASON WITH 11TH PLACE FINISH AT STATE
Last season, Deerfield placed second at State. That was an amazing achievement and huge celebration. But every big party is followed by clean up. And Deerfield’s cleanup job was more daunting than ever. All seven runners on that second-place team graduated. Deerfield would need a total rebuild. Then, the next guys in line stepped right up and got Deerfield back to the IHSA State Championships, which only 28 of the 140 teams in the 2A classification can qualify for.
The famed Detweiller Park that has hosted the State Championships for over 50 years looked less recognizable than usual. Torrential downpours overnight and into the morning left the course extra sloppy. And with three races before the 2A Boys race, the footsteps of 700 runners turned much of the ground to mush. On top of that, strong winds ripped across the course from the southwest, blowing against the runners on the final straightaway. This State Meet was not for the faint of heart.
The seven Deerfield runners lined up in their muddy starting box ready to make their State Championships debuts. They got out to a conservative start per usual. At the mile, they were in 18th place as a team. Then they moved up. Dane Brown started in the 40s and moved his way towards the All-State cutoff, which is 25th place. With half a mile to go, Brown was in 29th, and a pack of four was within striking distance. But Brown was out of gas. He held tough on an empty tank and finished in 41st place. Dylan Cohen started with Brown but got a cramp in the second mile. He fell off his teammate but had a solid final quarter mile and decreased the gap to Brown. He finished in 44th place. Both runners had their sights set on All-State but fell short. This will surely fuel them for their senior seasons next year.
The Deerfield pack moved up nicely throughout the race as well. Ryan Jones broke from the pack and passed about 75 runners over the last two miles to finish in 74th place. Andrew Firestone and the lone senior Drew Spiegel worked off each other nicely and moved up to 128th and 140th place respectively, which rounded out the scoring for the Warriors at 316 points. Jon Wool, who spent much of the postseason unable to run, went for broke running with his teammates. He was not able to hold on, but he limited the damage much better than last week at Sectionals and finished in an important 171st place. Freshman Jamie Chandler battled all the way to the finish line despite obvious ailments that forced him to spend the 30 minutes after the race in the medical tent throwing up. His teammates were very proud of how tough Chandler battled for them.
Deerfield’s 316 points tied them for 11th place with Woodstock, but Deerfield won the tiebreaker because Jon Wool, Deerfield’s sixth runner, beat Woodstock’s sixth runner.
This result was initially met with mixed feelings by the mud-soaked Warriors given that some of them were not happy with their individual performance. But ultimately the team realized that any feelings of disappointment were only due to recently elevated expectations. This team blew away their expectations from the beginning of the year. Nobody expected any noise out of Deerfield this season. But two consecutive top 11 finishes without any overlap among the seven guys racing in each squad is extremely rare, and it is possible it has never been done before.
The DFDC has established itself as a top-tier program that can be found near the top of the State Championship results every year, and this year’s group proved it more than ever. If there was ever a season to have a “down” year, this was it. And if 11th place at State is a team’s down year, that speaks volumes. These runners, who were all running in JV, frosh/soph, and middle school races just one year ago, were presented with a huge challenge, and they brought incredible amounts pride to the Deerfield cross country program. Deerfield was clearly not in rebuilding mode for long. At State this season, they were already rebuilt.