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Track and field: Midwest Distance Classic keeps high school athletes running

LISLE – Kaneland senior to be Matt Richtman (Class 2A 3,200-meter run) and recent Geneva graduate Brian Kuehl (Class 3A 800 run) were both second at the boys track and field state finals May 27.

They stuck with the same events June 10.

“I was shooting for another [personal record], just trying to keep getting better,” Richtman said.

Richtman was 12th in the boys 3,200 run at the 12th annual Midwest Distance Classic at Benedictine University.

His lifetime best 9:22.98 at the Midwest Distance Classic bested his 9:23.47 from state, which was runner-up by .57 seconds.

“[There] was definitely a lot more wind than at state,” Richtman said. “It was definitely a different racing style. At state, we kind of took the first mile a little bit slower. This was pretty consistent throughout.”

The Midwest Distance Classic, an event with 800- to 3,200-meter races, attracted runners from 15 states. Top-three finishers earned medals.

Kaneland rising sophomore Rachel Richtman (girls 1,600 in 5:13.23) and recent graduate Becca Richtman (girls 2,000 steeplechase in 7:59.52) were fifth.

Rosary rising senior Brooke Delahanty (girls 800 in 2:16.55), incoming Geneva junior Ryan Kredell (boys 2,000 steeplechase in 6:53.43) and Kaneland rising sophomore Grace Purcell (girls steeplechase in 8:00.88) were sixth. 

“My workouts have been more cross country-based, so I didn’t really know what I could do,” Rachel Richtman said. “I’m happy with how I stuck with [the leaders] instead of just saying, ‘Oh, this race doesn’t matter.’”

Kuehl was seventh in the boys 800 (1:54.64), and recent Geneva graduate Tyler Dau was 16th in the boys 3,200 (9:29.18).

Kuehl (1:53.88 at state) ran a lifetime-best 800 time of 1:53.46 on June 1 in St. Louis. 

“On the backstretch [at the Midwest Distance Classic] the wind slowed me down a little bit, but I was happy with how I finished the last 200. That’s something I’ll take from the race,” said Kuehl, who will continue competing at Wisconsin-Whitewater. 

The Florida State-bound Dau, a two-time 1,600 run all-stater, ran the 3,200 for the first time since his lifetime-best 9:16.44 on April 22.

“The first five and a half laps were perfect for me,” Dau said. “I was on a sub-nine minute pace, which was my goal. I fell off, and it just didn’t happen.”

Delahanty, fifth in the 800 at 2A state (2:17.26), ran her second-fastest 800. She’ll continue summer running with the Illinois Wolfpack. 

“To see [all-state] become a reality is just very humbling. God is so good. I can’t put it into words,” Delahanty said. “The best thing that ever happened to me was not making it to finals [at 2016 state]. That just lit a fire.” 

In the boys 1,600, Kaneland rising sophomore Daniel Occhipinti (4:39.65) and rising senior Peyton Heiser (5:02.12) were ninth and 15th, respectively.

Steeplechase is a high school event in only four states, and Illinois is not among the four. Becca Richtman, who will continue competing at Winona State, drastically improved upon her 2016 third-place time of 8:26.07 in the steeplechase at the Midwest Distance Classic, but a medal was not forthcoming this time around.

“This year, I run 27 seconds faster and got fifth,” Richtman said. “It was just for fun. Something to do. Last year I fell in the water barrier, and this year I didn’t.”

Kredell and Geneva rising senior Matt Hoskins previously competed in steeplechase twice this season. 

Kaneland rising senior Sam Webster (7:24.69), recent graduate Andrew Kantola (7:30.79) and rising junior Jacob Petrik (8:07.79) were 10th through 12th, respectively in the steeplechase. Hoskins pulled a leg muscle during the second water hazard and opted not to finish. 

“It was definitely better than I expected," Kredell said. "I enjoyed it the first time so I thought I’d give it another shot."

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