Matt Richtman has a routine for every race.
Richtman, a Kaneland senior, finishes his run – oftentimes, the first to the line. Then he sticks around the chute to congratulate every runner who comes in after him. If the weary need a helping hand, Richtman and his kid sister, Rachel, lend theirs.
Sportsmanship. Cool stuff.
So are state championships.
Richtman recently became the first to win a state championship for Kaneland in boys cross country. He edged rival Jacob Gebhardt of Sterling in 14 minutes, 23 seconds to win the Class 2A state championship on Nov. 4 at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
It was a triumph of second chances, so to speak.
The week before, Richtman, who will run collegiately at Bradley, was overtaken by Gebhardt in a photo finish at the sectional meet.
Cross country, as much as any sport, has a certain camaraderie that makes it special. Even the most bitter of rivals share a fellowship at the finish. Perhaps it is the grueling nature of the sport that forges that bond.
It's never too early or too late to start running, and nobody knows that better than the Richtman family.
Richtman's older sister, Becca, ran at Kaneland and now competes at Winona State. Their mom didn't run in high school but now does to stay fit. A couple uncles are apparently avid runners. Richtman followed his older sister into track and cross country, and the younger sister followed suit.
The recent first-place medal was Richtman's third overall medal at state.
So, a salute to Kaneland senior Matt Richtman. He's a shining example of sportsmanship, second chances and cross country's camaraderie.