Men’s cross country team dominates Rich Engel Classic

ccBy: Nathan Hoy

As track and field head coach Dirk Homewood quietly stands on the back end of the course at the Rich Engel Classic on Thursday, Sept. 17, he has his eyes particularly focused on one guy. As Sam Schillinger passes the coach headed for the final stretch with no other competitor in sight, Homewood slightly smirks and turns around on his bike to take his daughter to soccer practice. He knows that efforts like this not only make a huge impact on cross country, but the upcoming track season is also going to be a good one.

Runners finishing first is a CFHS legacy, and after three laps around Birdsall Park, including a back stretch with nothing but straight incline, the Rich Engel Classic at Birdsall Park is the meet every cross country runner dreads, looks forward to and anticipates for months.

As runners gasped for air and collapsed not only at the end of the race but all along the way, it was apparent to all spectators that what these young athletes were going through lived up to the expectation.

Both men’s varsity and junior varsity took home first place finishes with Schillinger, Isaac Smith, Ethan Smith, Andrew Nurse and Jake Hartman scoring for the varsity Tigers and Caleb Burjes, Garret Denny, Hunter Lavallee, Ben Eastman and Gaven O’Hair scoring for the junior varsity.

As for the women’s team, the varsity took 3rd with Anna Hertz, Madison Larson, Cassidy Christopher, Paige Kvale and Allison Zierke scoring. The junior varsity took 2nd with Meg Schmitz, Miranda Simpson, Carina Hansen, Brenda Sevcik, Beth Culberson and Sydney Householder scoring.

Schillinger is definitely making a name for himself as he is currently ranked third in the state after taking home the 1st place finish at Rich Engel.

“I don’t really feel pressure because I know that’s where I should be,” Schillinger said. “I have confidence that I can perform at that level, so it makes me feel good seeing that the state knows who I am as well. Being in the spotlight can be tough sometimes because I get a lot of praise when I am just another kid like anyone else, but I take pride in what I do, and it’s nice to know that other people know what I’m doing.”

He is starting to learn how to run against the clock because more times than not Schillinger finds himself racing nobody but himself and the clock at the end of the race. “The hardest part of the meet was the last mile. I was starting to separate from the rest of the field, and it’s tough running on your own on a course like ours. So, yeah, that’s where I had to really challenge myself and be mentally strong. My main focus was just to give it my all and try to win it. I came in projected to win it, and I knew I could. I just wanted to go out there and run my hardest here on our home course.”

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