DASH Middle School Cross Country 2012 Grant Park Meet Report

Hello DASH families,

The DASH middle school cross country team was back in action at Grant Park last Wednesday. It was a gorgeous, but warm, sunny day. With the experience of Monday’s meet behind us, the goal for this young team was to push a little harder and try to move up in the standings. The results were exciting.

In the girls 7th and under race we were without DASH stars Lucretia Nyhart and Abigail Larkin. Julianna Caspers was asked to don the DASH yellow a meet earlier than planned to help us out. Then we found out that Grace Zinkgraf planned to run as well, so we ended up with seven girls ready to race. Things were going well. All the girls got off to good starts. Faith Caspers ran with the leaders early, but did show signs of tiring. All the other girls were right where I hoped they would be, except for Grace Zinkgraf, she was much better. In this her first cross country race, Grace was the third DASH girl to pass and did not even look tired. Yes, the coach was getting excited! Before heading into the last turn, Faith was looking stronger and was able to make a late charge to move up to 6th place and capture our first medal. Kayla Walters was next with another impressive showing. She has turned into a very dependable racer. New DASH star Grace Zinkgraf stayed fast to the end and cracked the top-100 in an amazing first race. Now the rest of the  DASH girls started coming in fast. Rebekah Marek was caught flying to the finish to be our fourth scorer for the second straight meet.  She really improved from Monday’s meet. Julianna Caspers impressed as always. She may be small, but she knows how to race. Mia Wickman and Alivia Kempf each had their best races. Their improvement over Monday’s showing is astounding. If you watched the race to the end you would have seen over 120 more girls cross the finish line, with no DASH athletes among them. All of these girls are running well and keeping the coach smiling.

The 7th and under boys picked up right where the girls left off. Briton Kostrzewa was even more impressive this time out. He took off in the middle of the race and moved up all the way to 2nd place. He held that spot, while increaing his lead over 3rd, all the way to the finish. The DASH team has won a lot of top-10 medals at this meet over the years, but we have never had an athlete place as high as second. The coaches were asking me where I found Briton. He is getting noticed. Leif Kostrzewa started fast and stayed fast, never seeming to tire to be our second runner in. Get used to Leif being one of our stars. Joshua LeSac is running with confidence right now. He is racing faster than ever, and challenging anyone nearby. It is great to see. Daniel Caspers did not have his best, but he stayed with Joshua until the end and cracked the top-100. Westley Marek and Joshua Anumolu, with Monday’s race under their belt, posted great times, and left more than half the field behind them.  As good as they ran, I still look for them to improve even more as the season goes along. It was nice to see Elijah Anumolu in the race. He struggled, but made it to the finish. He can run fast, but is still learning how to pace himself for this distance. With some more practices he will be moving up soon.

Zipporah Caspers, with the help of her personal coaching entourage, was next in her attempt to capture another medal for the DASH team. Everything went according to plan as she got out fast and stayed in the top-5 heading into the last loop, but their was a big pack of girls close behind looking to move up. Zipporah has had trouble holding her spot at the end of races in the past, but her hard work this summer showed, as she was able to cross the finish line ahead of all but five, thus earning herself and the DASH team yet another top-10 medal.

In the 8th grade boys race, Christian LeSac and DASH newcomer Joe Hughes ran with the leaders early, with Sam Zinkgraf lurking right behind. Christian, running in third well ahead of fourth, crossed the mile mark in 5:45. Heading in to the last loop the two runners ahead of Christian were in a titanic battle for first, but Christian actually closed the gap on them before finishing with another impressive third place finish. Christian is one who usually improves a lot as the season goes along. We will see what he can do for an encore this year after his early success. Joe Hughes had a great first DASH race, placing 19th overall.  He can run.  Let’s hope he can get to a lot of our upcoming races. Sam Zinkgraf is really running strong right now. You can tell he has been working hard, and he is posting some great times. If we can get all my 8th graders together for a race, we will be tough to beat.

We fielded just 18 athletes, yet racked up four top-ten medals, placed 16 athletes in the top half of their races, and were the only team to have a top-6 finisher in every race. That is competing to our abilities, which made it yet another epic day of DASH racing!

Thanks again to Mary Beck for being our official scorer. Thanks to Andrea Beck and Andrea Kempf for helping out with the coaching. Thanks to the parents and athletes who were everywhere lining the course being great DASH fans. And thanks to my wife for taking the photos so we can remember how much fun we all had.

Take care,
Jim Caspers

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