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Bureau Valley does the Wave

The Wave has been a sports phenomenon at arenas and stadiums for many years with sections of fans rising one after the other.

The Wave has taken on a whole new meaning in Illinois high school cross country in 2020.

Teams from Bureau Valley, Hall, Princeton and Kewanee met Tuesday night in Walnut, but they didn’t really meet.

With COVID-19 guidelines in mind, the teams ran in waves one at a time. Kewanee was first, and when it completed the course, Hall started a half hour later, followed by Princeton and then the host Storm.

The times were compared and individual winners were declared, even though they never ran head to head.

Princeton won the girls meet and Kewanee claimed the boys meet.

While Bureau Valley will run its Dale Donner Invitational on Saturday, cut from 30 teams to three, the traditional way, athletic director Brad Bickett said they wanted to show they can run a meet either way, opting for the wave style on Tuesday.

“It tests the kids' character today to compete against themselves and own teammates to obtain their best time without having someone else from another school to compete against,” he said. “It’s just like life. You’re going to have to be self motivated. You’re going to have to persevere and that’s what we’re asking the kids today. Just a little bit different format.”

Storm coach Bob Benck felt it worked out well, everything considered, even though the Storm's times saw a drop with the lack of competition.

"I think the wave starts certainly worked well from a logistical and safety standpoint, but I know my athletes' times suffered for lack of competition," he said. "Still, better to have wave starts and a full season than have mass starts, sick athletes, and a shortened season."

Bureau Valley sophomore Elijah House, who won the boys' race, said the wave style was “not his favorite thing to do,” but appreciated they were trying to keep everyone safe about COVID-19.

“It makes the mental aspect of cross country a little bit harder, always making sure you’re pushing yourself,” said House, who’s time of 18:36 was a little slower comparatively to the Storm’s first two meets.

Hall senior Kaden Crowther, who placed fourth (19:47), admitted it was a little weird.

“When I focus on my pace, it helps me get comfortable whoever’s there. Who’s behind me and who’s in front of me to catch during the race. Different mindset,” Crowther said.

Hall senior Ed Arteaga, who finished third (19:21), was OK with the wave.

“I like running with my teammates, because they can push me," he said, adding he really likes to push himself with all the hills on the Walnut course.

Sophomore Christian Yepsen led Princeton by finishing ninth (21:11).

BV also had top 10 finishes from Isaac Attig (5th, 20:30) and Ben Roth (7th, 21:07).

Kewanee (37) claimed the boys meet, defeating the host Storm (49), Hall (52) and Princeton (99).

The Princeton girls’ victory was a simple as 1-2-3 with Jenna Loftus (22:44), Lexi Bohms (22:46) and Hannah Muehlschlegel (24:26) claiming the top three spots.

The Tigresses also picked up a sixth-place finish from volleyball transplant Mayah Gartin (26:28) and an eighth-place finish from freshman Sophia Oester (27:14), tallying 20 points to beat Bureau Valley (61) and Hall (73). Kewanee did not field a full team.

Yovanna Reyes led Hall in fifth in 25:30, while BV got top 10 finishes from Jillian Hulsing (7th, 26:36) and Paige Wagner (10th, 28:12).

The co-ed format brought some interesting interaction on the course. Hall coach Tom Keegan pushed Reyes to catch the boy ahead of her and he turned around and said, “Don’t do it, Yovanna.”

Notes: The Donner Invite will be held Saturday at Walnut, cut from 30 teams to three teams due to COVID-19 restrictions - BV, Newman and Orion. The meet’s namesake, former Storm coach Dale Donner, was on hand Monday helping out at the finish line. … The county’s other big meet, the Gary Coates Invitational, was canceled last week at Princeton due to the pandemic.

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