PEORIA – For three gruelling months, Hinsdale Central’s boys cross country team continually proved that no individual was more important that the collective unit.
During the state meet Saturday at Detweiller Park, that all-for-one motto paid off as the Red Devils ran away with the Class 3A state championship.
The only team to have all seven runners place within the top 105 finishers, the Red Devils torched the competition, accumulating just 99 total points, 45 points better than second place Downers Grove North.
Before the start of the season, Hinsdale Central head coach Jim Westphal noticed a friendly yet competitive attitude among his top athletes.
“From summer on, these kids displayed such a sense of purpose and focus,” Westphal said. “Chemistry was evident – they are good friends but they push one another. When it came time to run in a pressure situation, they wanted to give their best for each other.”
Central’s win was also a banner moment for the West Suburban Silver conference, which had three other teams – Downers Grove North, Lyons Township and York – finish in the top five.
Seniors Billy Magnesen and Kevin Huang often paced the team this season, but fellow seniors TJ Caveney and Emmett Scully were also leaders and the glue that held the team together, according to Westphal.
“Good teams rely heavily on the third through seventh runners,” Westphal said. “The closer they are the top two, the better you will perform as a team.”
The senior trio of Magnesen, Huang and Caveney led the charge in Peoria with three all-state finishes. Magnesen was ninth (14:41), Huang 24th (15:01) and Caveney 25th (15:02). Right behind them were freshman Blake Evertsen (29th place, 15:06) and sophomore Chris Brenk (43rd, 15:13) to round out the scoring quintet with junior Matt McBrien (60th, 15:22) and Scully (104th, 15:38) also posting solid times.
Before state, the boys also took first at both the regional and sectional meets.
“Our goal going into the season was to make a jump to that next, elite level,” Westphal said. “We knew that we had the talent to take home a state trophy, but the boys were the ones that bought in and executed.”
While the team will lose seniors Magnesen, Huang, Caveney and Scully – all of whom may run in college, according to Westphal – the head coach believes that the underclassmen have the talent to fill their shoes and vie for another run at a state title next fall.
“We are very fortunate to have such a talented group,” Westphal said. “They are not only great athletes, but great students and great individuals as well.”