Geneva senior boys cross country runner Blaine Bartel followed two siblings into the sport, but has distinguished himself with a solid final season that included the top time among River Division runners at last week’s Upstate Eight Conference meet – 15:17. He and the Vikings will look to improve their standing at today’s 3A Wheaton North Regional at St. James Farm Forest Preserve. Speaking with Kane County Chronicle sports reporter Kevin Druley for the latest installment of the Weekend Chit-chat, Bartel assessed the Vikings’ morale entering the postseason. The following is an edited transcript:
You don’t race as often at St. James Farm as, say, LeRoy Oakes, but what do you think of the course?
I like the course. It’s much flatter than LeRoy, so I’m hoping it’s a fast course. … We ran there a couple times the past two years.
Tell me about the team outlook in the state series.
We’re a young team and we’re coming off a couple injuries and new guys coming up. But we’re feeling good and we’re hoping to do well. … I had the flu for a whole week, so I was out for a couple weeks [earlier this season], but some of the other guys had ankle and knee problems. They’re coming along nicely.
Coach [Bob] Thomson has credited you and Dan Dudman as leaders. What’s made you effective?
We’re both the captains, so I feel like we have kept the team going, kept them pushing, and it kind of helped them get used to varsity.
When did you first start as a distance runner?
I’ve been running since fifth grade. Ran a 5K, liked it and stayed with it.
How much do you and other runners think about Geneva’s string of cross country success?
A lot of people think about the long run of Geneva runners and hope for the future that we can keep doing better.
Lots of teams play ultimate frisbee or have a quirky side game as an alternate workout. What do the Vikings do?
Yeah, actually during the summer camp we’ll have practices on Friday, captain’s practices, and after that we’ll play a game, and it’s usually ultimate frisbee. … It’s very active. The frisbee’s always moving, and everybody can kind of throw a frisbee and catch, so it’s not too difficult.
Talk about your dad [Eric]. Is he more a team doctor or consultant for cross country?
I guess he’s more like a team consultant doctor than [anything]. … He’s the team physician for the football team. He’s an orthopedic doctor [at] Fox Valley Orthopedics.
What’s your injury history over the years? Does your dad just treat you at home?
I’ve had a lot of injuries. I’ve broken my foot, my ankle, a couple of other bones. … He can check things out at home, but we go to the office to get the X-rays and stuff.