Lake Zurich Middle School South’s boys cross country team placed tenth, on a wet, rainy and windy day at the Boys 3A State Cross Country Meet held in Bloomington-Normal on Saturday. Team member Matthew Pereira finished first at the meet.
To make it to the State Meet, teams and runners must have qualified through the various Sectional Meets that had been held the previous weekend, said Lake Zurich Middle School South Boys Cross Country Coach Matt Marston.
“South had a great team this year. We had a lot of fun and worked hard. There wasn’t a runner on the team who didn’t improve as the year went along. Some students shaved almost five minutes off of their start of the year 2-mile time throughout the course of the season,” Marston said.
“When the boys 3A race finally got off, the course was muddy and wet, and everyone was a bit nervous. As the runners rounded the last turn and headed to the finish, it looked like South’s top runner, Matthew Pereira, might be able to hold on and take second place – the number three runner was right behind him. There was a good fifteen feet between Matthew and the runner in first place. Placing second in State is a huge achievement. South runs in the 3A section, which means we are in the largest school class (1A is the smallest), and in some regards is the most competitive because it draws from a larger pool of students. And this was the State Meet – these were the best runners from throughout all of Illinois. Just qualifying for the meet is a big achievement and worthy of praise. However, Matthew didn’t finish second – in the last 200 meters, Matthew had picked up the pace and erased that 15 foot lead; he moved from second into first place. And that’s where finished… first with a two-mile time of 10 minutes and 28 seconds,” recalled Marston.
See: Lake Zurich's Matt Pereira Finishes First at State Cross Country Meet
Marston said another highlight of the weekend, was the camaraderie and support that developed. He said it was apparent as parents and runners gathered at Panera bread, during a rain delay.
“It was great to see the camaraderie that had developed – between runners and between parents. Some of them had been there for more than 3 hours, yet they still had smiles, where chatting away, and everyone was still excited about the rest of the day – and the race that was to come. While running two miles takes less than 15 minutes for these kids, it reminded me of all the hard work, time, and effort that goes into that run and how the running isn’t why we do this – there’s so much more to it,” Marston said.
Marston said the seven runners on the state team represented all of Middle School South’s cross country team. They were Patrick Burns, Brian Chmiel, Kyle Fitzgerald, Kyle Griffith, Vincent Nguyen, Matthew Pereira and Patrick True.