Hinsdale Central runners keeping busy
Mike Ochoa, Max Glaser and Yvon Bogdonoff (from left) run as a group during summer cross country training. | George M. Wilcox~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: October 28, 2011 12:33PM
If it’s 7:30 on a Friday summer morning in Hinsdale, then members of the Hinsdale Central boys cross country team are at Katherine Legge Memorial Park.
It’s training season for the school’s long-distance runners, which means it’s early to bed and early to rise for the Red Devils. By now, many of them are used to coach Jim Westphal’s summer circuit. The former All-American runner from Loyola University — and the only Oak Park-River Forest athlete to win the 3200-meter run at State — is entering his seventh season as cross country coach at Hinsdale Central.
Westphal has created a mini-tour during the summer. His runners meet four times a week at 7 a.m. before heading to a different park or trail as part of the training ritual for the upcoming season this fall. The hard work of today will likely pay off in September and October, Westphal claims. The Red Devils open the season at the Hornet-Red Devil Invitational at KLM Sept. 3.
“When I first started, we were running in town as more of a team, which meant sidewalks and cement,” Westphal said. “In the last three to four years, we’ve moved away from that and make sure we run on a soft surface as much as we can.”
On Mondays, the Devils head to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien; on Tuesday, it’s Graue Mill in Oak Brook. Then it’s KLM on Wednesday and Friday. Westphal gives the team Thursdays off, but runners are expected to train on their own. The KLM visit includes flat, ground work on Wednesdays and hills on Fridays.
“I like Waterfall Glen and the kids like Waterfall Glen, too,” Wesetphal said. “The forest preserve has a nice crushed limestone surface.”
Members of other cross country teams from Hinsdale South and Lyons also run to Waterfall Glen to train. Lyons runners meet at 6:30 a.m. at South campus on weekdays, and run as many as a half-dozen routes. Some days, Lyons runners head to the pedestrian bridge, which spans Interstate 294, and then they turn around. On other days, Lyons competitors run through the Timber Trails subdivision in Western Springs.
“Personally, I get bored if we run the same route over and over,” said Lyons junior Michael Matusiak, who finished 90th in the IHSA Class 3A state meet last season. “I like it that our coaches find different routes to run.”
Matusiak’s teammate, sophomore Ed McCarter, likes routes along Wolf Road and to downtown Hinsdale. The early morning runs allow McCarter to work at the school radio station during the summer, and he works as a lifeguard at the La Grange Field Club.
“I love it. We have fun in the morning when it’s not too hot,” McCarter said. “You meet the new freshmen and you get to know them.”
Runners of all ages and abilities join the Hinsdale Central team on its workouts. One Friday morning session at KLM brought out a few freshmen and sophomores from the football team, and even sixth-graders Charlie Johns and Neil Cumberland, who have not even joined their middle school’s cross country team yet.
Johns will attend Hinsdale Middle School and Cumberland will head to Clarendon Hills Middle School.
“I wanted to attend a cross country camp, but my parents thought I should try the high school camp first,” Johns said.
The state’s top returning cross country runner, Oak Park-River Forest senior Malachy Schrobilgen, trains three days a week with the Huskies.
Each program is limited to 25 contact days in the summer until Aug. 1 when athletes get a break before double sessions begins.
Twice a week, OPRF will go on two runs, meeting at 8 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. The Huskies go on their own to Waterfall Glen, Busse Woods or Salt Creek Trail on Saturday mornings, but can be seen closer to home at Thatcher Woods in River Forest during the week,
Schrobilgen started running with OPRF as a sixth-grader at Julian and now runs with the next generation of OPRF runners coming out of junior high. Schrobilgen nearly equaled Westphal’s top finish in the 3200 in the spring, but placed second.
“It’s hard to believe. I have never felt like, early on, that I was that small,” said Schrobilgen, who finished fifth at State last year. “The kids are training and work hard to stay up with the varsity guys.”
Hinsdale South coach Dave Jackson will retire after coaching his 33rd season this fall. His assistants, Dave Stimpson and Jim Dickerson, run many of the summer workouts, which include trips to Waterfall Glen and KLM. Jackson’s son, Alan, was a former cross country runner at Hinsdale Central.
Like many coaches, Jackson tries to keep the workouts intense, but not too intense.
“A rule of thumb is to add new mileage no more than five percent the total mileage from the previous week,” Jackson said. “If you run 10 miles, then you run 12 miles the next week. You increase the mileage gradually and that decreases your chance of injury.”