Boys Cross Country


Geneseo High School





2016 XC Team


Pictured are most of the 2016 Geneseo High School Boys XC Team


XC Sign



Governor's Run


Pictured are the ten Maple Leafs who participated in the European Style X.C. Race.
Row 1:  Nathan Yoder, Adam Wells, Juan Mejias-Dansbach;  Row 2:  Andrew Rizzo, Neo Colter, Christian Booth, Nathan Soria, Nathan Carroll, Blake Duncan;  Row 3:  Nathan Lambert


On Sunday, November 6th, ten members of our cross country team traveled to Scott County Park to participate in the 28th annual Governor’s European Style Cross-Country Race.  The “Race” is really a fun run with a two-mile or “long” option.  The “long option” was selected and it was probably close to 6 miles in length.  The term “European Style” refers to the style of cross-country racing that occurs in Europe.  They actually run through plowed fields, through wooded areas, through creeks, and hurdle fallen trees and placed hay bales.  The “race” is a blast and every participant won an award (grabbed a colored ribbon pinned to a tree.)  Upon completion of the run, each athlete reported to the awards area and the appropriate colored table to select their award.

New this year, were several high school division awards.  Our team swept them clean winning the following awards:  Team that traveled the farthest;  Team that had the largest percentage of team members in the race;  and the team that was the muddiest at the end of the race.  I have been unsuccessful at obtaining a post-race picture of the guys.  Job well done, Men.  No participant came out unscathed as near the end of each race was a creek crossing that was over four feet deep.  Yeah, the water was kind of chilly.  Way to ROCK, MEN!


Sectional Start


Pictured is our team as they react to the  “crack” of the Starter’s Pistol.


On Saturday, October 29th, the Leafs’ traveled to Metamora’s Black Partridge Park for the I.H.S.A. 2A Sectional Final.  The field included teams from:  Bartonville-Limestone, Bloomington, Crete-Monee, Dunlap, East Peoria, Galesburg, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Mahomet-Seymour, Metamora, Morris, Morton, New Lenox (Providence Catholic), Normal (University), Peoria (Notre Dame), Rock Island (Alleman), and Streator.  In addition, the top 5 boys not on the six qualifying teams from the Galesburg Regional, Morris Regional, and the Normal (University) Regional also toed “da line”.  The top 5 teams and the top 7 boys not on the qualifying teams would qualify for next Saturday’s I.H.S.A.’s STATE FINALS.  The field was LOADED with 6 of the STATE’s Top 25 Ranked Teams in attendance including:  Top Ranked Mahomet-Seymour;  2nd Ranked Normal University;  4th Ranked Metamora;  15th Ranked Peoria Notre Dame;  18 Ranked LaSalle-Peru, and 19th Ranked Dunlap.

The teams were treated to an unusually warm day.  The normal daytime high for this time of year is 58˚ and the low the night before was only 63˚ with the daytime high reaching the high 70’s.  There was a moderate wind from the south blowing at approximately 10 mph.  The course was hard and fast.  The Leafs toed the line in Starting Box 19 and got out nicely during the race’s early moments.  The last time we raced here the weather was PERFECT with a race time temperature of 55˚.  The race time temperature was 72˚.  In addition, the field was filled with a plethora of quality and those two factors influenced the times.  It was extremely crowded with the elites doing battle.  The narrow trail sections were particularly challenging as “a log jam” occurred several times.  Despite these obstacles , the team fought with everything they had.

When the “dust had settled”, our team had placed a STRONG 9th barely missing the final qualifying spot by a mere 20 points.  Every man ran a smartly paced race and “reached down and found more” in the homestretch.  Our “Big Three” led the charge with:  Nathan Soria, Blake Duncan, and Brandon Ramos sprinting home in 29th, 37, an 40th places respectively.  Closing our scoring were Peter Rizzo and Noah Sebastian who rolled into the finish chute in 44th and 57th places.  Not too far behind were Neo Colter (88th) and Maguire Hoon (93rd.)  We were all disappointed when the team scores were posted and we found out that we had just missed.  I know not every man ran their season best time but considering the heat and the elite, front-loaded field, I feel confident in saying that this was our team’s BEST RACE of the season by a LONG SHOT.  A special “shout out” goes out to our 5 alternates and additional team members who made the trip to support their team.  YOU WERE EVERYWHERE I LOOKED.  Way to “cover the course”.  I also am extremely proud of each man and feel that they demonstrated our “NO EXCUSES…..NO RETREATS…..NO REGRETS” philosophy to the highest level.  Each of you represented our team and school with great pride and your individual “PASSION AND PURPOSE” was quite evident.  Our team faced a plethora of adversity this season and you overcame all of it.  JOB WELL DONE, MEN.  Now, let’s lick out wounds, take some down time, and then get back after it come December.  Remember to DREAM BIG AND PAY THE DUES TO MAKE THAT DREAM A REALITY!

On the Bridge


Pictured is the team posing for a picture on a bridge during our “trail cool-down”.



The Long Green Line 2


Pictured is the DVD, “The Long Green Line”.  The DVD tells the story of the 2004
State Champion York Dukes XC Team and the adversity they had to overcome.


On Friday, October 28th, the Top 7, our alternates (5) and a few “special invitees” traveled to the home of the “Freddies” for a little “Team Bonding” the night before the I.H.S.A Sectional Finals.  Walter “Payton” Fredericks’ was secured in his “House” and NO ONE was bitten 🙂  The team watched the story of the 2004 State Champion York Dukes and all the adversity the team was forced to overcome.  Following the video each senior was asked to share their “Take Away” followed with a few comments from both Coach Moe and Coach Fredericks.  Then came the “FEAST” as we chowed down on “La Gondala” spaghetti, garlic bread, and delicious deserts provided by our Juniors and Seniors in attendance.  The team then traveled back to their homes to relax and rest up for the Sectional Meet.  A special thanks goes out to Mrs. Michelle Moe for picking up all the dinner food and delivering it to us following the DVD.  Another special shout out goes to Callen Moe who met “Payton” for the first time.  I am pretty sure that they both smiled at each other.  All of this was accomplished without Mrs. Tessie Fredericks who was out of town on a 9-day vacation and didn’t arrive home until later that night.


Bingwa Maguire


Pictured is the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Maguire Hoon


Senior, Maguire Hoon, was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner following the Galesburg I.H.S.A. Regional held on Saturday, October 22nd.  The “Bingwa” has been a weekly award for most of the season but the coaching staff decided to select a winner following the Sterling 09/J.V. Invitational held on Tuesday October 18th and also the Galesburg I.H.S.A. Regional (both meets where held during the same week.)

Maguire’s ascension into the Varsity Top 7 began early in the season and it has been a lot of fun watching his confidence grow with each passing week.  That ascension continued at Galesburg’s Lake Storey Park on Saturday, October 22nd in the I.H.S.A. Regional Meet.  The Leafs weren’t even mentioned in the pre-meet write-up.  It was supposed to be a 3-team battle between Dunlap, Peoria Notre Dame, and Rock Island Alleman.  The Leafs ended up placing s STRONG 3rd overall as a team, only 4 points out of 2nd and 7 points out of 1st.  The team simply had its best race of the season by far and Maguire’s effort was a HUGE reason why.

Our team has been hit with several extremely challenging moments this season.  Losing a top 5 man to grades, losing a top 5 man to a severe viral infection, and losing a top 5 man to a severe ankle sprain.  And all this after losing a top 5 man to another fall sport before the season even began.  The bottom line is the 2016 Geneseo Maple Leaf Cross Country Team has developed a HIGH level of resilience.  In case anyone reading this isn’t sure what that means, here is the definition from the dictionary:  “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”.  That pretty much sums up our team and a ton of the credit goes to our twelve seniors.

For any team to be successful there needs to be strong leadership and that has come from each of our twelve seniors.  Magurie’s contributions have been enormous as he has “stepped up” when we needed him the most.  Both in training where he has continued to breakthrough to higher levels of fitness and in racing where he continues to “bring it” when it matters the most.  His Regional race saw him run to 34th place and be our 6th man (only two other team’s 6th men beat him.)  Maguire is no stranger to cross country with this being his 3rd season.  This, however,  is his first VARSITY experience.  He has also been a track man throughout his middle school (hurdler and jumper) and high school (middle distance.)  Maguire comes from an extremely athletic family that has made a profound impact on Geneseo High School Athletic History.  It is extra special to see Maguire adding to that amazing “Family Tradition”.

You are only scratching the surface of your potential and it is my sincere hope and prayer that you will embrace your new-found level of success and continue to find out just how good you can become.    Your leadership has and will continue to be an asset for our distance team if you are up for it.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  All the best at Sectionals and Beyond.  DREAM BIG and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

Magurie is the proud son Jeni and Brent Maguire  He is the proud “baby bro” of Landon and Mackenzie who were both tremendous athletes during their high school days.  Thanks for being such a great kid.  Never lose that “infectious” smile of yours.  It brightens my day every time I see you flash those pearly whites of yours.  Senior Pride is a Powerful Weapon.  Get Ready to UNLEASH “da Beast”.


Regional Guys


Pictured are the “Starting 7” in the back row:  Neo Colter, Noah Sebastian, Maguire Hoon, Nathan Soria, Blake Duncan, Brandon Ramos, and Peter Rizzo.  In the front row are the “Fantastic 5” reserve runners:  Nathan Carroll, Adam Wells, Christian Booth, Colby Rapps, & Juan Mejias-Dansbach


On Saturday, October 22nd, the Leafs traveled to Galesburg’s Lake Storey Park to participate in the I.H. S.A. Regional Meet.  The top 6 teams and top 5 runners NOT on the qualifying teams all moved on to next Saturday’s I.H.S.A. Sectional Meet to be hosted by Metamora High School at Black Partridge Park.  The field included teams from:  Bartonville (Limestone), Canton, Dunlap, Galesburg, Geneseo, Peoria (H.S.), Peoria (Notre Dame), Peoria (Richwoods), and Rock Island (Alleman.)  The teams were treated to a wonderful fall day with a race time temperature of 57˚ with a south wind of 12 mph.  The course was firm and FAST.

The boys race took off at 11:45 a.m.  This is an unusually late starting time and we applaud the meet management’s decision to give the temperature a chance to climb from a night time low of 32˚.  The Leafs were seeded 4th in the meet by Dyestat Illinois.  Peoria Notre Dame, Dunlap, and Rock Island Alleman were predicted to battle it out with the Leafs not even being mentioned in the pre-meet article.  Not so fast my friend.  The team ran an inspiring race that saw Blake Duncan, Nathan Soria, and Brandon Ramos  all finish in the Top 10 as they grabbed 6th, 8th, and 9th places respectfully.  Closing the scoring for Geneseo were Peter Rizzo and Noah Sebastian who each placed in the Top 20 via their 14th and 18th place finishes.  Not too far behind were Maguire Hoon and Neo Colter who raced to 34th and 37th places respectively.  When the “dust had settled”, the Leafs team scored totaled 55 points.  They had finished in an impressive 3rd place finished only 4 points out of 2nd ant 7 out of 1st.  We are well into “Championship Meet Season” and the team picked a great time to run their best race of the season.  Impressive Stuff, Men!

Now onward to the Metamora Sectional Meet to be held at Black Partridge Park on Saturday, October 29th.  No one will be looking at the Leafs to “Crash the Party” and earn a qualifying position.  That’s just fine with us.  Use that as motivation and get ready to take it up ONE more notch and line up with the goal of “Shocking the State”.  We need a lot to go right to be in the running and I have every confidence that each of you will do your part to make the dream have a chance of becoming a reality.  Continue to do all the “little things” correctly.  8+ hour of sleep, proper hydration, proper nutrition, and lots of visualization of SUCCESS.  Think about your best races and take that mentality into your visualization and SEE yourself running a great race.  No super-human efforts that almost always end in disaster.  Put your team first and do whatever you can to help OUR TEAM optimize this amazing opportunity.  All the best, Men.  We are VERY proud of each of you.  That includes our five alternates who were “ALL OVER” Galesburg’s Lake Storey Park.  There is no “I” in the word TEAM.  TOGETHER WE CAN!  NO EXCUSES, NO RETREATS, AND NO REGRETS.




Bingwa Tate


Pictured is the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Tate Neff.
He is pictured next to his own picture following his selection as “Student of the Quarter”.


Senior, Tate Neff, was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner following the Sterling 09/J.V. Invitational held on Tuesday, October 18th.  The “Bingwa” has been a weekly award for most of the season but the coaching staff decided to select a winner following the Sterling 09/J.V. Invitational.  The meet was the last competitive opportunity for most of the team and several team members put forth outstanding efforts making the selection a difficult one as several teammates were considered but when the “dust had settled”, senior Tate Neff was voted as the unanimous selection.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc. for the entire season.

Tate’s race was a “thing of beauty” as he “ROARED” to a lifetime best time of 19:20 over the less than “lightning fast” Hoover Park Course in Sterling, Illinois.  Tate really took a plethora of “Senior Pride” to the line in his last high school cross country race.  He “gambled” a bit with an extremely aggressive race plan that saw him roll through the mile in 6:07 and two miles in 12:13 (6:06 2nd mile.)  If you’ve already done the math, you have figured out that Tate was hurting pretty bad at two miles but fought on bravely through a challenging 3rd mile of 7:07 that saw him cross the finish line in 19:20 as he grabbed 18th place, scoring as our 5th man in the Open Boys Race.  Tate raced on this same course at the Rock River Run Invitational where he ran 20:53, which was run on Saturday, September 24th.  Tate took off an impressive 93 SECONDS off of that time.  It will be a long time before I forget the pride I saw on Tate’s face as he sprinted for home climbing “da hill” for the last time as he ran a lifetime best for the full 3-mile distance.

Tate’s high school running career has been a challenge to put it lightly.  Following successful seasons in Middle School in both XC (8th man eighth grade year) and Track both 7th and 8th grade years, Tate ran into chronic hip pain that surfaced during his Sophomore year in XC.  Never getting a definitive diagnosis, multiple cures were attempted, all in vain.  Tate was never lost his “Passion and Purpose” but his patience level was SEVERELY tested.  We’ll never know for sure but it eventually subsided (growth spurt related?)  He ran Track his freshman year and then was forced to pass on “da oval” his sophomore and junior years.  He stayed with X.C. even though he was severely limited in both training and racing opportunities.

Tate is a brilliant young man, ranking near the top of the class of 2017, and has excelled at everything he as ever attempted.  He has the “it factor” possessing an intangible resilience to find a way to not only “get it done” but to get it done to the best of his ability.  This trait is priceless and will serve Tate well in his future.  It has been inspiring to watch Tate attack his senior harrier season pain free.  I have my fingers crossed that you may just join us on “da oval” this winter and spring.  The Red Carpet is rolled out and Coach Moe and I will be anxiously waiting.

Leading up to Tate’s breakout race were several great weeks of training.  The culmination was a tour of the Neff Family’s amazing 195 acres of forested property with amazing trail-running opportunities.  The Neff family graciously offered to host a team dinner the night before the NIB-12 Championship and we were literally blown away in awe at the beauty of the rolling trails.  Coach Moe and I took a 2nd tour of the 3-mile loop (there are several options) before chowing down with the team.  I would have to rank that run as my favorite of the season (AHEAD of the Rock River Crossing from Sterling to Rock Falls….way cool.)

You are only scratching the surface of your potential and it is my sincere hope and prayer that you will embrace the challenge of finding out just how good you can become now that you are finally healthy.  Your leadership has and can continue to be an asset for our distance team if you are up for it.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.

Tate is the proud son Sarah and Kevin Neff.  He is the proud “older brother” of Bode (currently a 7th grader.)  All the best in the coming months of your high school career and beyond.  It is my sincere hope that you will be a “Lifetime Runner”.  Thanks for always being such a polite, respectful, and positive role model.  You are a classy dude and your future is going to be AWESOME!


Girls and Boys Before Open Race


Pictured are BOTH the girls and boys open runners in prayer before their race.


On Tuesday, October 18th, the Leafs traveled to Sterling’s Hoover Park to participate in the traditional season ending meet for athletes not competing in the I.H.S.A. Regional.  The field included teams from:  Dixon, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Moline, Princeton, Rochelle,  Rock Falls, & Sterling.  Moline was the only addition from last year’s field and they were a great addition.  We also love the fact that Sterling runs the meet by combining the boys and girls into each race (09 and open) to make the length of the meet manageable on a school night.  Four separate races would simply be over the top.  Well Done, Sterling!  Hardware was available to the first 5 runners in the Freshmen Race and the top 10 runners in the Open Race.  All races were non-scored.

The weatherman treated the teams with near-perfect weather conditions.  The daytime high was 75˚ and by the time the races were contested, it had fallen into the high 60’s.  The wind was minimal at best and the course was almost completely dry and FAST!

The freshmen got things rolling at 4:30 p.m.  Colby Rapps sprinted off the starting line and never looked back as he ran 5:47 for his first mile (fastest opening mile by ANY Maple Leaf on “da day”.)  He held on for a STRONG 2nd place finish to lead the Leaf Charge.  Ky Ariano and Carson Mariman joined in the fun by racing to top ten finishes via their 8th and 10th place finishes.  Hayes Murphy, Jacob Jorgensen, and Nathan Yoder closed the team’s efforts via their 16th, 18th, and 23rd place finishes, respectfully.  The meet was non-scored and only two teams (Geneseo and Moline) had at least 5 runners (to make an official scoring team.)  I scored it anyway using “Ghost Runners”.  If a team doesn’t field a complete team (at least 5 runners) “ghost runner scoring” were utilized. “Ghost Runner Scoring”:  If a team only has 3 runners and 50 runners complete the race, their 4th and 5th “Ghost Runners” will be 51st and 52nd.  The “unofficial scores were:  1.)  Geneseo 54;  2.)  Moline  66;  3.)  Rochelle  73;  4.)  Dixon  80;  5.)  Rock Falls  93;  6.)  LaSalle-Peru  103;  7.)  Princeton  109;  8.)  Sterling  130.  Only a team’s top 7 runners figured in the scoring.  Once again, these scores are “unofficial) and several teams had freshmen who were NOT allowed to race due to the fact that they are currently in their team’s Top 7.  Anyway….WAY TO ROLL, LEAFS!  YOU ARE OUR FUTURE!!!!!

Onto the Open Race which took off at approximately 5:00 p.m.  The Leafs got out nicely with Junior Adam Wells leading the way and also “taking a chance” by flying past the one mile in quick 5:49.  Adam paid dearly for his aggressiveness but certainly caught both Coach Moe’s and my attention.  Adam has come a LONG way in his high school career and his “Passion and Purpose” are unquestionable.  Juan Mejias-Dansbach led the Leaf Charge for “da Chute” as he and Christian Booth sprinted home to gain Top 10 Medals as they grabbed 6th and 7th places, respectfully.  Next up were:  Thackery Newton, Nathan Carroll, and Tate Neff who all grabbed Top 20 finishes via their 15th, 17th, and 18th place finishes to close the Leafs “unofficial” scoring.  Next up were:  Chandler Schwartz (22nd), Adam Wells (26th), Nelson Laingen (29th) who each grabbed “Top 30 finishes”.  Closing out the Leafs efforts were:  Luke Sebastian (40th), Nathan Lambert (41st), Nik Floyd (43rd), Cole Schwerdt (46th), Tristan Johnson (47th), and Kaleb Efflandt (48th.)  Using the same “Ghost Runner” scoring formula the race played out with the following results:  1.)  Moline  41;  2.)  LaSalle-Peru  47;  3.)  Geneseo  63;  4.)  Rock Falls  73;  5.)  Sterling  145;  6.)  Dixon  165;  7T.)  Princeton  190;  7T.)  Rochelle  190.  Add in healthy Charlie Schlindwein and Kyle Sellers (probably on Varsity moving other team members into this race) as well as Andrew Rizzo and our team would have battled for FIRST PLACE.  GREAT EFFORTS, MEN!

It should also be noted that following the meet, 10 members of our team accepted “da Coaches Challenge” to run from Hoover Park down the river trail, cross the new Rock River Pedestrian Trail, and then finish at the Rock Falls Jimmy John’s.  There, we were met by the  bus and those athlete’s who were advised to not run  this cool-down.  We weren’t certain of the distance but estimate 3 miles plus.  It was a BLAST!  A special shout out goes to 13th grader (College Freshman) Kiah “Bear” VanWynsberghe who not only ran the route but did it in “Old School” Converse All-Star Shoes.  OUCH!  Thank you to each member of the “Lewis and Clark” expedition for their sense of ADVENTURE!


Bingwa Juan


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Week” Award Winner, Juan Mejias-Dansbach


Sophomore, Juan Mejias Dansbach, was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Week” Award Winner for the week of Monday, October 10th through Sunday, October 9th.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  “Championship Meet Season” has arrived and Sophomore Juan Mejias-Dansbach made it back-to-back weeks where a team member did something that is almost impossible.  To run a near TWO MINUTE Personal Best this late in the season.  Last week it was Freshman Colby Rapps.  This week it was Sophomore Juan Mejias-Dansbach who “dropped our jaws” as he ran the race of his life in the NIB-12 F/S race.  He ran a lifetime best time of 18:05 and earned F/S All-Conference Honors along the way.  In fact, his time was so fast that he ranked as the 6th fasted Leaf on the day.  WOW!

Juan had a mediocre summer of base mileage at best.  He told me that he maybe put in 30-50 miles over the summer.  His dear friend Nathan Lambert gets a lot of the credit for that as he stopped by his house and picked him up (making him come) to a few team runs.  Juan has never run a single step with the “Big Dogs” on our team and his race has left me stunned and extremely proud and excited about his future potential.  Last year, Brandon Ramos “popped” his breakout race at the Sterling 09/JV Invitational and then backed it up with a solid Track season and a serious summer of base mileage.  Both Colby and Juan are two of the best kept secrets in Western Illinois.  If they are willing to take it to the next level they (and several other teammates) will be ready to take the “Ramosian Step”.  That of becoming a “Big Dog”.  With the number of seniors that we are going to graduate there is little doubt that no one will be looking for the Leafs to be very strong “team wise” next fall.  That WILL change if we can get the commitment to excellence from our returning team members.

When asked about his “breakout race” Juan was pretty low key about it and said that he went out conservatively and then really got rolling after the mile.  He told me that he was almost sprinting to “catch da next guy”.  He kept on doing that the rest of the race moving up the entire time.  Coach Moe and I looked at each other in bewilderment as he continued to keep moving up.  It was simply an amazing effort.  Juan admitted that he was so focused that he didn’t feel ANY pain.  A bit of “numbness” but nothing else.  Simply put….he was in “THE ZONE”.   It is a special place that most runners never experience.  Well Done, Juan.

You are only scratching the surface of your potential and it is my sincere hope and prayer that you will embrace the challenge of finding out just how good you can become.  You have several great role models that will help lead you down that path if you are willing to pursue it.  Our team desperately needs you to.  “PASSION AND PURPOSE” are a powerful combination.  All the best in the remaining weeks of this season and beyond.  You have always been a polite young man.  No more “Captains’ Practices” mentality.  Help LEAD our team to the next level.  Don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  Juan was such a “Slam Dunk” for this week’s award that we didn’t even discuss it much.  Several other athletes were considered but Juan’s “Monster Rac”e made the vote unanimous.  Way to ROLL!

Juan is the proud son Mary Dansbach and Juan Mejias-Diaz.  He is the proud “baby bro” of Lydia (currently a junior.)  This is Juan’s 2nd year of running high school XC after also running both years in Middle School.  His 8th grade year Juan barely missed making the “State” top 10 as he ended the season as the 11th man.  He also ran track in middle school (1600 and 1600 Meter Relay) in addition to running for the Maple Leafs as a Freshman last spring in distances ranging from 200 meters up to 800 meters and the appropriate relays along the way.  In the words of one of my all time favorite rock bands (REO SPEEDWAGON) “I believe it’s time for me to fly”….the me is YOU!  DREAM BIG, JUAN!


Ready to Make Some Noise


Pictured is the team in the first-ever Geneseo Boys XC Team Poster.
The picture was taken earlier in the season.


On Saturday, October 15th, the Leafs traveled to Sterling’s Hoover Park to participate in the Northern Illinois Big-12 Conference Cross Country Championship. The “NIB-12” is similar to several college conferences in that the league name is misleading in regard to the number of actual teams. The Big 10 actually has 14 teams and the Big 12 has 10 teams. With the Dixon Dukes and the Streator Bulldogs jumping ship last year, the NIB-12 only has 10 teams. But what a 10 it is. Six of the ten boys teams are listed in the state rankings. The meet is always extremely competitive and I would have to rank this year’s field as the best EVER in the short history of the NIB-12.  The field included teams from:  DeKalb, Geneseo, Kaneland, LaSalle-Peru, Morris, Ottawa, Rochelle, Sterling, Sycamore, and Yorkville.  It should also be noted that the Maple Leafs have the lowest student enrollment in the NIB-12 with 827 students while DeKalb has the largest with 1,747.

The weatherman was kind to us with a race time temperature of 55˚ and overcast. There was a south wind of 13 m.p.h. which kept it cool during the meet. Eventually later in the day the clouds lifted and the temperature rose to 77˚. The Varsity Boys were up first as their race took off at 10:30 a.m. sharp following the “crack” of the starter’s pistol. Blake Duncan and Nathan Soria just missed earning All-Conference Honors (top 18) with their 24th and 30th place finishes. Noah Sebastian, Peter Rizzo, and Brandon Ramos grabbed 41st, 42nd, and 43rd places to close the Leaf scoring. Maguire Hoon and Christian Booth rolled into the finish chute in 49th and 50th to complete the Maple Leafs efforts. When the dust had settled, the Leafs had placed 7th.   State-ranked teams finished in 1st through 6th with Sycamore upsetting the field to grab the win. Coach Moe summed it up best when he mentioned to me that placing 5th in this field would be even more impressive than snagging 5th place at the SECTIONAL Meet. Let’s lick our wounds and get ready for the State Meet Series which starts next Saturday in Galesburg.

Next up were the F/S Boys who took off at 11:30 a.m. They were racing without “da Rizzo bros” and upset the form chart with an impressive 5th place team finish. The team was led by Juan Mejias-Dansbach who simply ran the race of his life.  Juan ROARED to a time of 18:05 which earned him All-Conference Honors and placed him 14th overall as he took off almost TWO minutes off his lifetime best.  Right behind him was Neo Colter who also grabbed All-Conference Honors via his 18th place finish. Colby Rapps (24th), Nathan Carroll (31st), and Ky Ariano (47th) closed the Leaf scoring attack with strong efforts from each man. Rounding out the squad were Luke Sebastian and Hayes Murphy who ran to 53rd and 58th places respectfully. Way to ROLL, Men.

Last up were the Open Boys whose race was moved up thirty minutes and run with the Open Girls. At the Coaches’ meeting, we voted in favor of this change in the meet schedule. Adam Wells was out early and ran to an outstanding 13th place finish. Thackery Newton had a MONSTER kick to nail down 14th place to earn All-Conference Open Division Honors. Not far behind were:  Tate Neff, Nelson Laingen, and Chandler Schwartz who rolled to 22nd, 23rd, and 25th places to close the Leaf scoring. Also running strong races were:  Nathan Lambert (41st), Nathan Yoder (47th), Nik Floyd (48th), Cole Schwerdt (51st), and Tristan Johnson (52nd.) When the points were totaled (by me…they didn’t score this race for some reason… has been in the past) the Leafs had placed a team best 4th barely missing 3rd by a mere 2 points.  GREAT JOB, MEN! Now let’s get ready to Lace’em up one more time on Tuesday in the Sterling 09/J.V. Invitational.




Bingwa Colby


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Week” Award Winner, Colby Rapps


Freshman, Colby Rapps, was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Week” Award Winner for the week of Monday, October 3rd through Sunday, October 9th.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  Most of the team ran season best times on the 2.94 Metamora Black Partridge Park course on Saturday, October 8th.  We estimate that the course is somewhere between 15 to 20 seconds short of the full 3-mile distance so we expected a lot of “season bests” as we roll towards “Championship Meet Season” but what Colby “threw down” was simply “Jaw-Dropping”.

Colby’s best time for the 2016 season occurred at the Sterling Rock River Run Invitational which was contested on Saturday, September 24th where he dipped under the 20-minute barrier for the first time running an impressive 19:57 earning him the honor of being the 14th man on our team.  Colby has been working very hard in practice but we were “stunned” with his race on Saturday in Metamora where he raced to 44th place in the highly competitive field and ROARED to a time of 17:47.  Keep in mind the course is a tad bit short but he took over TWO MINUTES off his season best time.  That simply just doesn’t happen.  Not this late in the season, anyway.  Colby not only broke through to a new level….he broke through SEVERAL levels along the way.  SUB 19:00 minutes and SUB 18:00 minutes all in the same race.  The best part of the whole deal for me personally was seeing the HUGE smile on his face post race.  He KNEW that he had “Popped a BIG ONE” that saw him race to the Geneseo Varsity Number 8 Man Position.  WOW!!!!!

Keep up the hard work, Colby.  You are just scratching the surface.  All the best in the remaining races this fall.  Nail Conference and then follow that up with another “Bingwa” effort in the Freshmen Race at the Sterling 09/J.V. Invitational.  Both races will occur in the next 7 days and both will be hosted by the Sterling Golden Warriors on their Hoover Park Course.  You have put yourself in the discussion for the post-season line-up.  It is my sincere hope that this breakthrough will help motivate you and your teammates to put down a solid base of winter mileage.  Then, get ready to “EXPLODE” on “da OVAL” this coming spring.  Your enthusiasm is omnipotent and you also possess a tremendous sense of “Passion and Purpose”.  It would also be an honor to “toe da line” with you in a few winter road races.  It is AWESOME to watch success come to someone who has paid their dues via the old fashioned “Miles of Trials”.  You sum up the motto that I saw on the back of State Ranked (Number Two) Normal University High School that was on the back of their sweatshirts:  “CHAMPIONS RUN HARD WHEN IT’S HARD TO RUN”!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  Colby was a “Slam Dunk” for this week’s award.  Several other athletes were considered but Colby’s “Monster” Race made the vote unanimous.  Way to ROLL!  Keep up the good job and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

Colby is the proud son Alisande and Paul Rapps.  He is the proud “baby bro” of Becca (Class of 2016) and Drew (Class of 2018.)  Both, by the way, are OUTSTANDING athletes.  Becca was a star Soccer Player and Cross Country Runner and Drew is a starter on the Green Machine Football Team (amazing for a Junior) and was a key member of the Sprint Team on last year’s Track Squad.  Colby is also the proud older brother of Ali (7th grade), Jacob (5th grade), and Lizzy (3rd grade.)  Colby is no stranger to success in cross country as he climbed into the “Ehlert Elite” Top 10 his 7th grade year after a late season charge (sound familiar.)  He then followed that up with a Top 7 season his 8th grade year that saw him help the team win the Heartland Conference and Sectional Championships and place 16th in the team 3A STATE FINALS.  Keep your eyes on this one!  He is GONNA FLY!!!!!  All the best, Colby!


Blake and Nathan


Pictured are Junior Blake Duncan and Senior Co-Captain Nathan Soria who each earned
Top 40 Finishing Medals via their 29th and 31st place efforts.


On Saturday, October 8th, the Maple Leafs traveled to Metamora’s Black Partridge Park to participate in the 40th Annual Metamora “Runnin’ Red Cross Country Invitational.  The field included teams from:  Canton, Champaign Central, Decator St. Teresa, Deer Creek/Mackinaw, Dunlap, East Peoria, Geneseo, Glenbard South, Highland, Illini Central, Limestone, Lincoln, MaComb, Mahomet-Seymour, Metamora, Moline, Normal Community, Normal University High, Peoria Notre Dame, Olympia, Palatine (Girls), Pekin, Peoria Richwoods, Rock Island (Boys), Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Springfield,  and Washington.  Numerous teams were “State-Ranked” led by 2A number one, Mahomet-Seymour and 2A number two, Normal University High.

The F/S Boys got things rolling at 10:00 a.m.  The team was running without its “Big Three” and placed 14th in the 26-team field anyway.  The team was led by freshman Colby Rapps who ROARED to 44th place and a HUGE Personal Best.  Not too far behind were:  Nathan Carroll (83rd), Juan Mejias-Dansbach (118th), Ky Ariano (120th), and Carson Mariman (144th) to close the F/S scoring.  Rounding out the team were strong efforts from:  Hayes Murphy (150th), Luke Sebastian (151st), Jacob Jorgensen (154th), Nathan Yoder (158th), and Kaleb Efflandt (190th.)  Almost every single man ran a lifetime best on the 2.94 mile course.  Way to ROLL, MEN.

Next up were the Varsity Boys who took off at 11:20 a.m. as the starter’s gun fired.  The lead pack was out quick and “sucked” most of the field out to the fastest opening mile of their season.  Metamora’s Black Partridge Park will play host to this year’s Sectional Meet so the experience we gained via racing there was omnipotent.  Leading the Maple Leaf attack was Senior Co-Captain Nathan Soria who “BLASTED” a 4:55 first mile.  He paid a bit in the 2nd mile and then responded when junior Blake Duncan came up along side of him in the final half mile.  Nathan and Blake both earned coveted Top 40 Finishing Medals rolling into the finish chute in 29th and 31st places respectively.  Not far behind were:  Brandon Ramos (48th), Peter Rizzo (84th), and Noah Sebastian (97rh) to complete the team’s scoring.  Not far behind and also running strong races were:  Neo Colter (110th), Maguire Hoon (119th), Adam Wells (155th), Christian Booth (165th), Thackery Newton (175th), Nelson Laingen (183rd), Chandler Schwartz (196th), Tate Neff (208th), Nathan Lambert (218th), Cole Schwerdt (255th), and Tristan Johnson (256th.)  Senior Charlie Schlindwein was coming back after suffer a severe ankle sprain a couple of weeks ago.  He had a tremendous race going until his ankle gave way just past the 2-mile mark.  He was running as our 5th man and it is was a sad way to end the day.  Ice was applied within minutes but the swelling was significant and his season is almost certainly over.  We hope and pray that he will be able to make a complete recovery in time for the upcoming wrestling season.  Missing from our Varsity line-up was Kyle Sellers.  Kyle recently experienced a serious health issue that brought him to the Emergency Room twice in less than one week.  The diagnosis was a viral infection that eventually healed but in the meantime, Kyle lost ten pounds, is very weak, and missed seven days of school.  Needless to say, the priority for him right now is to completely re-gain his health and academic challenges.

Next up for the Maple Leafs is the NIB-12 Conference Final hosted by the Sterling Golden Warriors at Hoover Park next Saturday.  We are VERY familiar with their course and that should prove to be a nice situation for us.  It is time to get ready to “Lace’em Up FLY!!!  The goal is for every man to put forth his best effort.  That is a very attainable goal if everyone goes “ALL IN”.  Proper rest, proper hydration, proper nutrition, etc.  The last and most important part of the equation is that important thing between your ears.  Visualize your most successful races and get ready to add another to that collection.  Championship Meet Season has ARRIVED.  Now let’s use every single step that our team has invested in this season to RACE when it matters the most.  Trust and honor each other.  TOGETHER WE CAN!!!



Homecoming Picture


Pictured is the 2016 Geneseo Boy’s
Cross Country Team prior to the start of the Homecoming Parade
(The other half of the team is on the other side of “da Truck”)



Pictured is one of the Mini Frisbees “da team” flew to the spectators

On Friday, October 7th, Geneseo hosted its annual Homecoming Parade.  The Rizzo brothers came up with the idea of sailing mini Frisbees into the crowd for the children.  At first, the idea seemed too expensive.  Enter Coach Tessie Fredericks who found a great deal online, designed them, and ordered 288 of them.  The team chipped in three dollars each and away she went.  They also tossed out candy along the route.  The weather was perfect and the Frisbees were a “Big Hit!”  Well done, Andrew and Peter Rizzo and well done, Tessie Fredericks!  Let’em Rip!


Bingwa Nathan


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Week” Award Winner, Nathan Soria


Senior Co-Captain, Nathan Soria, was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Week” Award Winner for the week of Monday, September 25th through Sunday, October 2nd.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  Nathan has been in the running every week with the coaching staff agreeing that Nathan had to give us a “thumbs up” if he was selected.  He has VERY high expectations for himself and has given the “thumbs down” numerous times this season.  That came to an end this week even though it was our “off week” in regard to competition.

What Nathan did during that week is what earned even his nod of approval.  During the week Nathan bagged 47 quality miles that included a Monday long run of 11 miles (da hill loop) that was run “negative” with him averaging 6:37 over the challenging course.  I can say I was with him for two of those miles before I was “dropped” when the pace dipped below sevem minutes.  He towed both Brandon Ramos and Blake Duncan along for the entire way.  He followed that up with an interval session on Wednesday that saw him average 64 seconds for eight 400’s (while battling a strong north wind, I might add.)  Many of us (including Nathan) then rushed over to Richmond Hill Park to cheer for our Middle School XC team who hosted the Heartland Conference Meet (both teams won with the boy’s team scoring only 16 points.)  Next up was Friday’s threshold mile repeats (1 minute recovery) where he averaged 5:30 for FIVE mile repeats.  Mixed in between these intense days were “recovery days” of running that also included band work and serious core-strength training.  Simply put, Nathan had an AWESOME week of training as he led the Leafs every step of the way.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  Since we didn’t have a meet this week, we used the “overall week” and our volume of work for consideration.  Nathan has been running like a “warrior” ever since he entered Geneseo High School and is in the unique position to become a 4-Time Most Valuable Runner.  Nathan has already earned All-State Honors three times.  Twice via his valuable contributions to Geneseo’s 3200 Meter Relay results in the last two I.H.S.A. STATE FINALS.  In fact, last spring he helped the team place 2nd (barely missing the state championship and school record) by less than an second.  He also added a valuable leg on the Leaf’s 4th place 1600 Meter Relay.  Nathan helped lead his teammates to a 2nd Place STATE MEET TEAM FINISH and a pretty cool looking STATE TROPHY.  He qualified for the State Finals in Cross Country last year where he placed 100th in the loaded field.  Needless to say, training and racing epitomize a tremendous sense of “Passion AND Purpose”.  It has been my privilege to coach at Geneseo High School since the fall of 1985.  During that time I have been blessed to work with a plethora of highly motivated young men and women who demonstrated amazing levels of commitment to the pursuit of excellence.  It is extremely hard to compare “apples” to “oranges” but I feel confident in saying that NO athlete I have EVER worked with has outworked this young man.  He is simply the most dedicated athlete I have ever had the pleasure to work with.  For those of you that know me, this is quite a statement to make.  It is not intended to slight anyone but is a simple and truthful observation.

This is getting long so I better wrap it up.  All the best in the coming weeks, Nathan.  Run intelligently and get ready to hammer “Championship Meet Season”.  You deserve everything you achieve.  Keep trying to help the Leafs team effort as we move into “Peak Season”.  All the best with “Booking” another “Date at Detweiller” the first Saturday in November (yea….that’s the STATE FINALS.)  Who knows, maybe some additional state hardware will be hanging around your neck on the ride home.  No matter what….know that you have done EVERYTHING possible to run your best.  Now relax and enjoy the ride.  Have confidence in all the work you HAVE done.

Nathan is the proud son Jean and Dr. Loren Soria.  He is also the proud older brother of Hannah (10th grade) and Megan (8th grade.)  All the best.  Also, thank you for the wonderful leadership you have provided our team.  “The Will to Win Means NOTHING Without the Will To Prepare”.


Justin with belt buckle


Pictured is 1990 Geneseo High School Graduate Justin VanOpdorp minutes
after placing 11th overall in the grueling Hennepin 100


Last week I received an email from a former Maple Leaf, Justin VanOpdorp who graduated from Geneseo High School in 1990.  We have communicated very little since that time. He informed me that he would be traveling from his home of Olathe, Kansas (Kansas City Metro) to come back to the area to participate in the Hennepin 100 and he asked if we could get together. I suggested 3:15 p.m. on Friday, September 30th, so he could also meet the team and tell them about his race plan. To be quite honest, it is hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea being able to run a 100-mile race. Justin and his dear friend, Jeff Rothen met with us and it was a very inspiring visit. The race was the next day.

Justin joined G.H.S. in the fall of 1988 for his junior year as Atkinson High School consolidated with the Geneseo Community School District. It was both an exciting time and a sad one (losing a town’s high school is a hard “pill to swallow”. Declining enrollment caused the decision. Justin enjoyed a great high school experience.  He was the only teammate to defeat Adam Boardman in a 1600 Meter Run his junior year (Justin’s senior) as Justin ran a 4:39 to nip Adam at an indoor meet. Adam went on to earn a fourth place finish that year at the I.H.S.A. STATE MEET. It took a 4:30 to make our “Championship Meet” roster so Justin’s best races were never given the opportunity to “come out”.

After high school, Justin attended the University of Illinois were he majored in Mathematics majoring in Actuarial Science. Justin earned Magna Cum Laude which is an academic level of distinction used by educational institutions to signify an academic degree that was received “with great honor.” He then ventured into the the career field of Actuarial Science where he has climbed the ladder. He spent several years in Denver, Colorado where he met and eventually married his wife, Nicole.   Next up was a move to the Kansas City Metro area where Justin was recently promoted to Chief Analytics Officer at Lockton Companies. He is considered to be at or near the top of his field in the USA! Justin and his wife have two daughters Breyton (9th grade) & Caidyn (6th grade.)

Justin with team

“V” MEETS da Team

Pictured is 1990 Maple Leaf Graduate Justin VanOpdorp and his close friend Jeff Rothem
and most of the 2016 Maple Leaf XC Team

Back to the race. The entire race was run on the Hennepin Canal Trail starting in Sinnissippi Park in Sterling, Illinois at 7:00 a.m. (a pinch later due to a late-arriving bus.)  This is the 2nd year of the Hennepin 100 and in those two years, has brought in athletes from 34 states and four countries.   The race offers a five-member relay option as well as the solo option for athletes strong and brave enough to run for 100 miles.  This year’s race had eight relay teams.  The top relay team finished along side the individual winner in 14:22:55.  In case your mind has a hard time wrapping itself around that time (mine does . . . I can’t imagine running 100 miles at one time), it is fourteen hours; twenty-two minutes; and fifty-five seconds.

Justin gave me the blow-by-blow recap of his race on his ride back home on Sunday and it was incredibly inspiring. He ran into trouble mid-race as he overheated and became dehydrated. He stopped at an aid station (which were stationed every four miles or so) and sat down for about 10 minutes. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to finish at that point but decided to get rolling again and luckily, found a shaded section awaiting him as the sun started to lose some of it’s intensity. Justin’s strategy was to run for 15 minutes then walk for 30-60 seconds. He re-fueled and re-hydrated at aid stations and was sitting around twentieth place at the halfway point. He re-found his “groove” and started reeling in runners during the next 50 miles. He picked up a volunteer pacer near Annawan and then was joined for his final 13 mile stage at the Geneseo aid station (at Grange Road) by his friend, Jeff and cousin, Jon Obrecht (that’s “Coach O” to us) at 1:00 a.m. for the final push to the Rock River. The runners were wearing headlamps but still had to dodge fallen walnuts and branches. “Coach O” cleared several miles of the trail west of Illinois 82 while Tessie and I did the same to the east. We used snow shovels and moved hundreds of potential ankle breakers. Justin shared that the rest of the trail was not cleared. The “fearless foursome” nailed several other runners and then Justin took off and sprinted when he caught view of the finish line. When the “dust had settled” Justin had placed 11th OVERALL and 1st in his age group (40-44.) He averaged 12 minutes per mile for ONE HUNDRED MILES. That includes his walking breaks, his re-fueling breaks, restroom breaks, etc…. This accomplishment is simply amazing and we are very proud of Justin. The best part of the whole event was reconnecting with Justin. We plan to continue that. JOB WELL DONE, V!


Luke's Shirt


God’s love for us is INFINITE!


Bingwa Blake


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Blake Duncan


Junior Blake Duncan was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner for the days leading up to and including the Sterling Rock River Run Invitational.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  Blake has been in the running every week just missing out.  That ended this week as he had a solid week of training and popped a HUGE race at the Sterling Rock River Run Invitational.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  Blake has been running like a “warrior” since last spring when he “exploded on the scene” running and racing with a tremendous sense of “Passion AND Purpose”.

Blake followed his strong spring up with a 500-mile summer and has been running in our “Big 3” all season long.  It has been a lot of fun watching Blake’s confidence grow while still remaining humble.  That is a rare combination.  Blake leads not only in races but also in practice on a daily basis.  He barely missed a top 30 individual medal in the Sterling Rock River Run Invitational as he placed 37th and just missed cracking 17 minutes.  He cooled down with his Varsity Teammates and then was all over the course screaming encouragement for the Geneseo F/S Squad during their race.  He then followed that up by joining the F/S group on their cool-down putting in another two miles (along with several other Varsity athletes.)  It quite simply, was our finest day as a team this season with more to come.  Blake had a HUGE hand in that.

As we move closer to “Championship Meet Season” trust all the hard work you’ve put in and get ready to climb that ladder of success as you blast off to new levels of performance.  All the best in the coming weeks.  Keep trying to close the gap on Nathan as you bring Brandon along for the ride.  Keep working towards towing the Rizzo Twins and other teammates with you also.  I truly believe that our team is ready to “ROLL”.  Things that you work hard to achieve have a much deeper level of intrinsic satisfaction and you are “ALL IN ” in that regard.  Keep cranking (and smiling) and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.  Thank you for being such a great kid who ALWAYS puts his team first.

Blake is the proud son of Shawna and Chad Duncan.  He is also the proud “Big Bro” to Alexandra….AKA…”Alex”.  Help lead the “Maple Leaf” vision as we ROAR into “Championship Meet Season”.  DREAM BIG!!!!!


Team Huddle


The Varsity Boys discuss strategy moments before the “crack” of the starter’s pistol


On Saturday, September 24th, the Leafs traveled to Sterling’s Hoover Park to participate in the Sterling Rock River Run Invitational.  The 20-team field included teams from:  Belvidere, Belvidere North, Dixon, Eastland, Freeport, Geneseo, Geneva, Hampshire, Hinkley Big Rock, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Plainfield Central , Princeton, Rochelle, Rock Falls, Rockford East, Sandwich, Sterling, and Sycamore.

The predicted race time temperature of 85˚ was negated by persistent cloud cover that didn’t lift until the meet’s conclusion.  The end result was perfect racing conditions for late September with the temperature only in the high 60’s and little to no winds.  Coach Moe mentioned to me upon arrival that the conditions were bad for mosquitoes.  I smiled and said you mean “perfect”.  Sad, but true…..they were pretty bad.

The Varsity Field was a solid one with several state-ranked powers in attendance.  We knew that we would have our hands full and to make it even more challenging, the team was racing without two of its top 7 runners.  Both Andrew Rizzo (conflict) and Charlie Schlindwein (injury) were held out of competition.  The team ran GREAT anyway as Senior Co-Captain, Nathan Soria, continued to lead the way via his 22nd place team finish.  This eared him the only Maple Leaf Top 30 finishing medal of the day in the highly competitive field.  Not too far behind were the “dynamic duo” of Blake Duncan and Brandon Ramos who sprinted home in 37th and 41st places.  Closing the Leaf scoring were Peter Rizzo and Noah Sebastian who placed 53rd and 68th overall.  Next up were Neo Colter (80th), and Maguire Hoon (93rd) who each cracked the top 100.  Closing our the Leaf team effort were:  Christian Booth (101st), Adam Wells (111th), Thackery Newton 114th), Kyle Sellers (116th), Nelson Laingen (124th), Tate Neff (127th), Chandler Schwartz (130th), Nathan Lambert (137th), Nik Floyd (148th), Cole Schwerdt (149th), and Tristan Johnson (153rd.)  When the team points were added, the Leafs had placed a respectable 9th place.  Seven of the eight teams that finished ahead of the Maple Leafs are STATE-RANKED.  The boys ran their best team race to date  with more in “da tank”.  Get ready to ROLL.

The F/S boys was racing for the first time this season without the Rizzo Twins and Neo.  I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised when the team scores were posted and the team had place 9th overall (matching the Varsity Team Place.)  The team was led by our top 5 scorers:  Nathan Carroll (39th), Juan Mejias-Dansbach (60th), Colby Rapps (63rd), Carson Mariman (73rd), and Ky Ariano (97th.)  Not far behind were Luke Sebastian (101st) and Nathan Yoder (104th.)  As with the Varsity Boys race, many of the team members ran his best race of the season.  We have next weekend off and then will march into “Championship Meet Season”.  Get Ready to FLY!



Bingwa Neo


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Neo Colter


Freshman Neo Colter was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner for the days leading up to and including the Geneseo Invitational.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  Neo has been in the running for several weeks, just missing out.  That ended this week as he had a solid week of training and popped a HUGE race at the Geneseo Invitational racing on his home course.

Neo has impressed the coaching staff from our first encounter.  He is a quiet young man with a tremendous sense of PASSION AND PURPOSE!  He doesn’t just “Talk the Talk”….he “Walks the Walk” as evidenced via his 400-mile summer.  Pretty impressive for an incoming Freshman.  Coach Moe and I have each had the privilege of running many miles together with Neo.  He NEVER complains.  I can still remember the last day of summer practice when a storm threatened to keep us inside.  After a mile on the indoor track, we were able to sneak outside and Brandon Ramos invited Neo, Peter Rizzo, and me to join him in getting in nine miles for the day.  As we were finishing the run, Neo admitted that he had already run three miles earlier in the day.  I asked him what his lifetime long run was.  Eight miles was his reply.  He not only topped that but also got a new single day record of 12 miles.  It was probably not the most intelligent training decision in the world but it certainly shows how much desire this young man possesses.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  Neo has demonstrated a fierce competitive spirit that is a true pleasure to watch when he is racing.  We will be watching with great anticipation as “Championship Meet Season” looms in the closing distance.  Neo has always been at his best when it matters the most.  Get Ready to “BRING da BACON”.  Don’t forget to enjoy the ride as you help your team maximize its potential.

Neo comes to us with a plethora of Middle School State Meet experience having helped the team to 16th place as a team in the 3A race in 2015 following a 4th 3A State Meet Finish in 2014.  He also qualified for the IESA State Finals in Track in the 800 Meter and 1600 Meter Runs in 2015 along with a spot on the 4 x 400 Meter Relay and an alternate spot on the 4 x 100 Meter Relay.  He backed that up with a State Meet appearance in the 4 x 400 Meter Relay after just missing out in the 800 and 1600 Meter Runs in terribly windy conditions (35 mph…plus) that saw only the race winners advance out of the challenging Sectional Meet.

Neo is the proud son of Tracy and Scott Colter.  He is also the proud older brother of younger sister, Xanthia, who is an 8th Grader.  Tracy has taken the reins of the boy’s cross country booster club leadership position and is doing wonderful things for our team.  All the best in the coming weeks, Neo.  Distance runners seldom get “lucky”.  Great races in “Championship Meet Season” are the direct result of all the work done leading up to them.  Get ready to FLY.  Don’t forget to enjoy the ride.


Senior Start


Pictured is the start of the Senior Boys Race.  This was the last time that
the Class of 2017 will ever race the challenging Richmond Hill XC Course


On Saturday, September 17th, the Leafs played host to the 10-team Geneseo Cross Country Invitational.  The field included teams from:  Davenport West, Davenport North, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Pleasant Valley, Rock Island (Boys), Streator, Sterling, and United Township.  The meet uses a format that we copied from Crystal Lake Central High School (they no longer host that meet) where there are separate races for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.  Medals were awarded to the top 20 individuals in each race (boys & girls.)  That’s 160 medals in case you’re interested.  In addition, team champion plaques were awarded for each division.  In addition, there were overall trophies (09 + 10 + 11 + 12 Team Points) for both the boys’ and girls’ teams.  We’re not done yet.  Then, the overall points were added together and team plaques were awarded to the 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place overall teams.

The Freshmen boys got things rolling at 9:00 a.m.  There was still dew on the grass but the race time temperature of 65˚ with minimal wind was near perfect.  Neo Colter and Colby Rapps led the charge via their Top 20 Medal Award Winning performances as they grabbed 15th and 19th places respectfully.  Closing the Leafs scoring were:  Carson Mariman (32nd), Ky Ariano (35th), and Nathan Yoder (41st.)  Not far behind were Jacob Jorgensen (42nd) and Hayes Murphy (43rd.)  The team placed 4th in the Freshmen Division with a team score of 142 points.

Next up were the Sophomore Boys who took off at 9:40 a.m.  Peter Rizzo and Andrew Rizzo both raced to Top 20 Award Winning Medals via their Top 10 finishes (5th and 7th places respectfully.)  Peter has battled illness all week long and put forth a tremendous effort reinforcing his selection as last week’s “Bingwa” Award Winner.  Nathan Carroll, Juan Mejias-Dansbach, and Luke Sebastian closed the Leaf scoring via their 23rd, 29th, and 39th place finishes.  Nathan barely missed “hardware” by a meer 3 places.  The Sophomore Boys secured the Leafs highest team finish on the day as they grabbed 3rd place totaling 103 points.

The Junior Boys took off at 10:20 a.m. as the temperature had began to become a factor as it moved into the mid 70’s.  Blake Duncan and Christian Booth led the team via their Top 20 Award Winning Medals (9th & 20th respectfully.)  Adam Wells, Thackery Newton, and Nathan Lambert closed the Leafs scoring via their 23rd, 25th, and 32nd place finishes.  Both Adam and Thackery narrowly missed crashing the “Top 20 Party”.  Not too far behind were Leaf “newbies” Kenneth VanZuiden and Chris Hodshire who raced to 35th and 42nd places.  The Junior Boys team placed 4th in their division scoring 109 points.

Last up were the Senior Boys who raced to 4th place in the team competition scoring only 89 points which was the lowest team score of the day for the Maple Leafs (only class to score under 100 points.)  Leading the way were Nathan Soria and Brandon Ramos who raced to the fastest two times for the Maple Leafs of the day as they both grabbed top ten places and prestigious Top 20 Medals via their 5th and 8th place finishes.  The temperature had climbed into the low 80’s for the Senior race (good and bad…kind of hot but helped to dry the wet course up a bit.)  Closing out the team scoring were:  Charlie Schlindwein, Noah Sebastian, and Maguire Hoon who raced to 23rd, 24th, and 29th place finishes as all three men barely missed Top 20 Medals.  Each senior man was racing on the Richmond Hill Course for the final time and that “Senior Pride” was in evidence as:  Tate Neff (39th), Chandler Schwartz (41st), Nelson Laingen (43rd), Tristan Johnson (51st), and Nik Floyd (52nd) all ran strong races.

When all the class points were added together, the Maple Leafs found themselves with 2nd place team honors.  Our team depth paid dividends as very few teams were able to field full teams at each level.  Pleasant Valley won the Team Title running without their Top 7 Varsity Runners who were competing at the prestigious Iowa State Invitational.  They are ranked not only in the State of Iowa but also in the Midwest.  They certainly added a lot of quality in each of the class races.  Our team ran with a lot of pride and each group did a solid job of preparing for their race with a solid warm-up.  They also followed that up with an appropriate cool-down.  These little things matter and are disadvantages for all hosting schools’ coaching staffs during the course of the season.



Bingwa Peter


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Peter Rizzo


Sophomore Peter Rizzo was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner for the days leading up to and including the First to the Finish Invitational.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  Peter has been in the running for several weeks, just missing out.  That ended this week as he had a solid week of training and popped a HUGE race at the First to the Finish Invitational in Peoria’s Detweiller Park.

When the 2A boys toed the line, three races had already been run (1A Girls, 1A Boys, 2A Girls.)  The result was the course (which was SOAKING WET) had been ripped to shreds and was a “MUD FEST”.  Running a fast time was impossible in the slippery conditions but Peter did a great job of finding Brandon Ramos and Blake Duncan and “hanging” on them for over two miles.  That is not an easy task considering how well both those men are running and the fact that over 800 runners were in “da field”.  Peter reluctantly had to “let go” in the last mile of the race as his fitness level is still a work-in-progress after a light summer of mileage.  Fear not, Peter.  You are really coming on and I can’t wait until the Sterling Rock River Run rolls around and we get to run our Varsity and Freshmen/Sophomores together.  As most of you know, we host our own Geneseo XC Invitational this coming Saturday and the race format limits each grade level to their own race.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  Peter has demonstrated a fierce competitive spirit that is a true pleasure to watch when he is racing.  We will be watching with great anticipation as “Championship Meet Season” looms in the closing distance.  Peter has always been at his best when it matters the most.  Get Ready to “BRING da BACON”.  Don’t forget to enjoy the ride as you help your team maximize its potential.

We also have Peter (and his brother, Andrew) to thank for introducing us to those “Five Guys Burgers and Fries” and the  “Bass Pro Shops Restaurant”.  The nutrition level at “Five Guys” wasn’t very good but the food sure was . .  I think I’m addicted to those fries :).  Last fall we were also able to test our game-hunting skills at the Bass Pro Shops Restaurant.  So, in addition to being a stellar runner, Peter knows good food and entertainment!  All I can say is, “Keep running.  The calorie level at both restaurants was pretty high but fortunately, with your running, you burn it off before you blink :).”

Peter is the proud son of Jan Rizzo and Dr. Thomas Rizzo.  He is also the proud brother of Rebecca (Class of 2000), Zach (Class of 2010), Amelia (Class of 2011), Jon (Class of 2016), Andrew (his twinkie and a current Sophomore), and Leo (currently in Kindergarten.)  All the best in the coming weeks!


Nathan fiirst to the finish Inv.


Pictured is the Lead Pack early in the race.  Pictured is Geneseo’s own Nathan Soria.
Also in the picture is the defending State 2A XC Champion (14:25) and 9:11 – 3200 Meter Run,
Jack Aho, of the Defending State Champion Grayslake Central Rams.


On Saturday, September 10th, the Leafs traveled to Peoria’s Detweiller Park to compete in the First to the Finish Invitational.  The meet is one of the largest high school invitationals in the country hosting over 400 teams in the 3 Illinois Classifications.  In all, there were 4,632 official finishers on the day in the eight races (J.V. races also.)  The Leafs are a small Class 2A school.

The weatherman was kind to us with a race-time temperature of 70˚ with a low dew point.  The athletes did have to battle a significant wind out of the north of 15-20 mph.  In addition, the course was extremely wet and by the time the Leafs toed “da line” (4th race on the day), the turf was pretty torn up and it was a literal “mud fest”.  Obviously, fast times were out the window but the opportunity to compete with many of the state’s best was “in da house”.  Of the eight races run on the day, the Maple Leaf Boys participated in the largest field with 852 runners completing the soggy 3-mile course.  The meet management allows the 1A and 2A schools the option of running the whole team in the same race.  Almost every team takes advantage of this opportunity instead of waiting around several more hours for the J.V. race.

The coaching staff was hoping for a top 20 finish in the 58 team field and were pleasantly surprised when we finally found the results online, several hours later.  The Leafs had finished 18th on a day which was far from perfect for our team.  We feel confident that our team will improve dramatically, over the coming weeks as the Leafs roll into “Championship Meet Season” form.

Leading the way were:  Nathan Soria, Brandon Ramos, and Blake Duncan who each cracked the top 100 as they finished in 84th, 98th, and 99th place respectfully.  Nathan ran with the lead pack through the first half mile while Brandon and Blake “Packed” together.  In fact, Peter Rizzo was with them through 2 miles and ended up as our 4th man in 134th while his “Twinkie” (Andrew) rolled into the finish chute in 206th place to seal our scoring.  Throw in Charlie Schlinwein (out due to an A.C.T. Testing Date Conflict) and there is little doubt that he and Andrew would have “hooked-up” and they both would have mowed down several dozen competitors each.  Completing our top seven were Maguire Hoon (293rd) and Freshman Neo Colter  in 329th place who each ran strong races respectfully.

Several teammates ran strong races and the remaining team members rolled in in the following order:  Noah Sebastian (335th), Nathan Carroll (359th), Kyle Sellers (3711st), Christian Booth (457th), Juan Mejias-Dansbach (495th), Colby Rapps (500th), Ky Ariano (541st). Adam Wells (548th), Chandler Schwartz (561st), Nelson Laingen (580th), Thackery Newton (596th), Nathan Lambert (668th), Carson Mariman (710th), Jacob Jorgenseon (749th), Hayes Murphy (777th), Jack Sellers (807th), Nathan Yoder (810th), Luke Sebastian (815th), Chris Hodshire (826th), and Kenneth VanZuiden (841st.)  The team raced without Kaleb Efflandt (injured), Nik Floyd (???), Tristan Johnson (A.C.T), Tate Neff (A.C.T.) Charlie Schlindwein (A.C.T), and Cole Schwerdt (conflict.)

Following the cool down the team traveled to “Five Guys Burgers and Fries” for some “health food”.  There was quite a bit of grease covering our French Fries but, man, they were good.  The burgers were outstanding also.  Job well done to “Riz and Zoe” for tipping the team off on this delicious post race restaurant option.  It takes a lot to pull me away from Avanti’s 🙂

Let’s get ready to roll at our very own Geneseo Invitational next Saturday.  The meet format is structured so each class has its own race (Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors.)  The top 20 finishers will earn medals and the team with the lowest team score will earn a Championship Plaque.



Bingwa Noah


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Noah Sebastian


Senior Noah Sebastian was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner for days leading up to and including the  Galesbuerg Invitational.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  Noah had a solid week of training since the Sycamore Invitational.  Having two Invitationals in the same week isn’t something we love but felt the pros outweighed the cons.

Noah is a first year cross-country man after playing “football” (European Style…..Soccer) since he joined the Geneseo High School student body his sophomore year.  Coach Philip Moe and I have gotten to know Noah through his participation in Track as a middle distance runner (where he as earned Varsity Letters the last two years . . . showing exciting potential.)  We were both pleasantly surprised when he and his younger brother, Luke, showed up when practice started.  They are both great kids with strong Christian morals and tremendous additions to our team.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bingwa Award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  Coach Moe came up with the idea of this award which is given after each of our cross-country meets.  Noah has demonstrated a strong sense of “Passion AND Purpose” ever since our first acquaintance.  He has already made a huge contribution to our team this season and really stepped up at the Galesburg Invitational.  We were racing with only Juniors and Seniors in the “Varsity Level” for this meet.  In addition, both Nathan Soria and Kyle Sellers (two of our top runners) were unavailable to compete due to conflicts.  Noah responded by ending up as our THIRD runner on VARSITY as he popped a huge race.

Noah is still very figuring our how to train and race the 3 mile cross country distance.  That is a HUGE step up for a middle distance man.  This experience will pay HUGE dividends next winter and spring and has already helped our cross-country team.  Dream BIG, Noah.  Who knows what is possible for you this season?  Take a chance and start trying to hang with teammates just ahead of you in races.  The end result might just shock you and the rest of the State of Illinois.  Thank you for joining our team and for bringing such a wonderful attitude to practice each and every day.  Noah is in hot pursuit of an appointment to either West Point or the Air Force Academy.  We hope this dream come to fruition.  We also hope he can help lead our team back to the State Finals at Detweiller Park on November 3rd.  Never doubt the added enthusiasm that comes along with earning the honor of being called, “A SENIOR”.

Noah is the proud son of Mary and Brian Sebastian.  He is also the younger brother of Katie (Class of 2010) and Kristin (Class of 2015.)  In addition, he is the older brother of:  Luke (10th Grade), Sarah (9th Grade), Joseph (6th Grade), Timothy (4th Grade), and Emma (1st Grade.)  In case your counting, that’s EIGHT Seb’s.  Pretty Cool 🙂  All the best in the coming months.  Don’t forget to enjoy the ride.


Start Varsity 2


Pictured are the Varsity Boys Team as they are still in the first 200 meters of the race.


On Saturday, September 3rd, the Leafs traveled to Galesburg’s Lake Storey Park to participate in the 41st annual Galesburg Silver Streak Cross Country Invitational.  The 16-team field included a good mix of state-ranked teams 2A teams including teams from Abingdon, Alleman, Dixon, Dunlap, East Peoria, Galesburg, Geneseo, Knoxville, Metamora, Morton, Normal West, Ridgewood, Mid-County, Sterling, United (Alexis), and United Township. The team was treated to beautiful day with mild temperatures (race time temperature of 70˚.)  The course was a bit soggy so times were slower than normal but how couldn’t that be the fact after Northwestern Illinois receiving over 14 inches of rain during the month of August.  Also, the racing distance GPS’ed at 3.10 miles (listed as 3.00 on the meet information.)

The Varsity Boys got the boys action started at 9:40 a.m.  The team was racing without several key men due to conflicts.  In addition, we chose to keep all of our freshmen and sophomores in the F/S race for the final time this season.  The boys that were “in da house” ran with a tremendous amount of “passion and purpose” and the coaching staff is extremely proud of your efforts.  Individual “hardware” was awarded to the top 30 finishers and the Leafs saw two of their own achieve that honor as Blake Duncan and Brandon Ramos raced to 21st and 22nd place respectfully.  Not far behind were:  Noah Sebastian (58th), Charlie Schlindwein (59th), and Maguire Hoon (62nd) to close the Leaf scoring.  The team placed 10th in the impressive field.  Not too far behind were:  Christian Booth (80th), Chandler Schwartz (102nd), Tate Neff (106th), Nelson Laingen (111th), Thackery Newton (114th), Adam Wells (119th), Nathan Lambert (120th), Tristan Johnson (147th), and Nik Floyd (152nd.)

Start F:S 2


The Maple Leaf F/S team early in their 3-mile race at Lake Story Park in Galesburg

The boys F/S race got rolling at 11:00 a.m. sharp.  The boys ran to a strong 5th place team showing and were led by medal winners (top 20 in the F/S race) “da twinkies” Peter Rizzo (8th) and Andrew Rizzo (16th.)  Not far behind were:  Neo Colter (30th), Nathan Carroll (37th), and Colby Rapps (47th) to close the Leaf scoring.  Rounding out the team were:  Ky Ariano (61st), Dylan Neuin (74th) who was running his first race of any kind EVER, Jacob Jorgensen (79th), Carson Mariman (90th…first XC race EVER), Juan Mejias-Dansbach (93rd), Nathan Yoder (94th), and Luke Sebastian (95th…running his first XC race EVER.)  Like the Varsity Runners, we are extremely proud of all of your efforts.  We will do nothing but get faster as the season progresses.

I can hardly wait for next Saturday’s First to the Finish Invitational held at Detweillier Park in Peoria (where the STATE FINALS will be held the first Saturday in November.)  The field will probably be pushing 1,000 runners so get ready for some fun.  There is only one Boys 2A race so our whole team will start at the same time.  I LOVE THIS MEET!  We will get a long run in on Monday and then hit the track for the first time this season for an early season speed session.  The most important requirement to develop as a runner is to bring a healthy dose of “Purpose and Passion” to practice on a daily basis.  Remember, every single member of our team has an effect on our team so make sure you are making a contribution instead of harming our team each and every day.  All the best in the coming weeks men.  DREAM BIG!!!!!




Mileage Winners


Pictured are Row 1:  Ky Ariano and Nathan Lambert (he was absent so Juan Mejias-Dansbach stood in);  Row 2:  Brandon Ramos, Blake Duncan, Nathan Soria, & Neo Colter


This quote is one of my all-time favorites and is by the great Tanzanian marathoner, Juma Ikanga.  It is brutally true.  Almost everyone has the desire to be a champion but so few are willing to pay the dues that excellence demands.  These six men have that desire and proved it this summer by running in excess  of 300 miles.  There are:  300-, 400-, 500-, and 600-Mile Clubs.  The mileage started being counted on June 1st and ended on August 31st.


Bingwa Charlie


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Charlie Schlindwein


Senior Charlie Schlindwein was selected as the “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner for days leading up to and including the Sycamore Invitational.  Also factored in were the days since our last meet.  The coaching staff considered attendance, practice effort, coachability, etc.  Charlie had a solid week of training since the Sterling Grass Relays which included a healthy dose of gradually increasing mileage, an impressive Friday afternoon of hill segments including Coach Moe “hanging on with his fingernails” to Charlie’s back, at Richmond Hill Park.  He backed that up with a decent recovery run and some solid Ultimate Frisbee on Saturday morning.  He then ended the “Bingwa” window for this meet by running an inspiring race on Tuesday in the Sycamore Invitational that saw him move all the way up to Geneseo’s 3rd man on the Varsity as he placed a solid 52nd in the impressive field.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.

Wrestling has been Charlie’s passion since he has entered high school (3 Varsity Letters and counting.)  He was a MAJOR part of their 2nd Place State Dual Team Trophy in 2014 and their Top 8 Team finish in the State Dual Team finals in 2015.  Last year’s team won the conference championship and just missed another trip to the State Dual Team Tournament.  “GET READY TO RUMBLE THIS WINTER”.  Charlie also earned a Varsity Letter as a Freshman in Track and Field.  The Dude is a STUD that has struggled with his motivation to be a runner.  Charlie has been a different man this season.  I chalk a lot of it up to a thing called, “SENIOR PRIDE”.  He told Coach Moe before the race that his goal was to try and stay with Blake who has been significantly ahead of Charlie in both training runs and our recent races  (the “Rust Buster” and Sterling Grass Relays).  He not only achieved that goal but finished as our third man behind Brandon and Nathan.  Well done, Charlie.  To travel from where you were last season to our “Bingwa” Award Winner is more than “Jaw-Dropping”.  Is has to rank as one of the most pleasant surprises in my entire career.  Keep up the hard work and let’s see just how far this team can go.  We are certainly a work-in-progress and with all twelve of our seniors leading, there are NO LIMITS for this team.

CC's first licking

I can’t think of Charlie without thinking of our Yellow Lab C.C. who was given to my wife at our XC banquet in 2005 following the loss of our beloved Star.  The Schlindwein Family (especially Jack, Carrie, and Nathan) made that XC present a reality.  Charlie was only in Kindergarten at the time and C.C. spent several days at their home before the banquet.  My most precious moment is when I married my wife.  My 2nd most precious moment was watching Tessie’s reaction when that incredible act of kindness was given to her and she starting crying massive tears of joy.  It was simply amazing and I will forever treasure that moment.  It’s hard for me to believe that was 12 years ago and Charlie is now a Senior and C.C. is 12 years old.  Amazing……anyway that is the kind of family this young man comes from and let me tell you they are all very special.  All the best with your senior year, Charlie.  DREAM BIG and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.  I’ve got my fingers crossed for a lot of things and one of them is for a return to “da oval” and taking a shot at making our 3200 Meter Relay Team.

Charlie is the proud son of Jack and Carrie Schlindwein.  Charlie is also the proud baby brother of Nathan (2005), Abbey (2006). Jake (2009), and Maggie (2013.)


Sycamore Medal Winners


Pictured are Geneseo’s Medal Winners from the Sycamore Inv.
From left to right are:  Peter Rizzo, Brandon Ramos, and Andrew Rizzo


On Tuesday, August 30th, the Leafs traveled to DeKalb’s Afton Forest Preserve to participate in the HIGHLY competitive Sycamore Cross-Country Invitational.  The meet falls on a Tuesday so it is far from a perfect fit considering the fact that it is a school day with a two hour bus trip each way.  Making it even more interesting was the fact that the weather was extremely “iffy” with threatening thunderstorms moving in from the north.  Head Sycamore Coach Michael Lambin is a great coach and put together this field which included 8 STATE-RANKED teams and several more that probably will be state-ranked before the “dust settles” come early November.  He decided to “Roll da Dice” and proceed with the meet.  However, he did shorten the meet’s duration by starting the Varsity Girls and F/S Girls five minutes after the boys races started.  It worked to perfection as the meet beat the threatening weather.

Leading the Varsity Boys to an 11th place finish was Brandon Ramos who raced to a highly coveted Top 30 Varsity Medal via his 28 place finish.  Not too far behind were:  Nathan Soria (45th), Charlie Schlindwein (52nd), Blake Duncan (55th), and Kyle Sellers (82nd) to close the scoring for the Maple Leafs.  The team was racing with all of our freshmen and sophomores being held down for the F/S race.  Next up were:  Maguire Hoon (89th), Christian Booth (98th), Adam Wells (107th), Nelson Laingen (114th), Chandler Schwartz (115th), Thackery Newton (123rd), Nathan Lambert (126th), Tate Neff (129th), Cole Schwerdt (145th), and Tristan Johnson (146th.)  Several Leafs were held out due to conflicts or missing physicals (da Coach Freddy recruiting is still in HEAVY motion.)  It was a bit of a shock to see us place only 11th out of 16 teams but, remember, this was an extremely talented field, we had a two hour bus ride, our “young guns” were held “down”, and we are far from “Championship Meet Season” PEAK.  Keep doing the work and let’s see how far we can take this thing.

The F/S Boys raced to a 5th place team finish.  Leading the Leafs were “da Twinkies” Peter and Andrew Rizzo who raced to 4 and 13th places respectfully to grab medals (awarded to the top 20 in the F/S race.)  Completing our scoring top 5 were:  Neo Colter (32nd), Colby Rapps (52nd), and Nathan Carroll (62nd.)  Solid stuff, Men.  Nathan put forth an exceptional effort after “tweaking” his back shortly after the mile.  Also running strong were:  Ky Ariano (98th), Juan Mejias-Dansbach (117th), Hayes Murphy (118th), Jacob Jorgensen (122nd), Luke Sebastian (159th), and Kaleb Efflandt (167th.)  Once again, we had several team members held out due to the categories of “needing physical” and “just joined and needs a bit of training”.   We are very excited about our “newbies” and feel certain that given a few weeks of training, the Leafs are going to have SEVERAL surprises.  DREAM BIG, Men.  We are proud to have you on our team and VERY excited about your future as a distance runner.



Captain Brandon


Pictured is this week’s “Bingwa Man of the Meet” Award Winner, Brandon Ramos


Senior Brandon Ramos was selected as the season’s first “Bingwa Runner of the Week” Award Winner.  We factored in the summer, the Rust Buster, and the Sterling Grass Relays.  Brandon is well on pace to nail a 400+ mile summer (summer mileage ends August 31st.)  In addition, he ran the 2nd fastest team time while finishing 2nd overall in August 18’s season opening Rust Buster.  He then followed that up with a tremendous effort at the Sterling Grass Relays as he and Nathan Soria placed 2nd overall with Brandon averaging 5:26 pace for his 3 one-mile repeats.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the award, “Bingwa” means “Champion” in Swahili, the native tongue of East Africa where a HUGE percentage of the world’s greatest distance runners hail from.  African born runners won every distance event in the recent Rio Olympics except the 1,500 Meter Run which was captured by the United States runner, Matthew Centrowitz (first American winner since 1908…..the last year the Cubs won the World Series.)

Brandon cracked our team’s top 10 one time last fall when he popped a HUGE Personal Best running 18:30 and placing 6th overall at the 2015 Sterling Junior Varsity Invitational to end his Cross Country season.  He then continued his improvement with a solid winter of base work and then attacked last spring on the track.  During the process, Brandon destroyed his Personal Bests for every distance events along the way as he ran 2:14 for 800 meters; 4:58 for 1600 meters; and 10:53 for 3200 meters.  In doing so, he broke significant time barriers by dropping below the coveted 2:15 for 800 meters; 5:00 for 1600 meters; and 11:00 for the 3200 meter run.

I have been coaching distance runners since my freshman year in college (red-shirted spring track and helped at the local Middle School) since 1978!  That is 38 years and counting!!!!!  I have had the privilege of working with thousands of amazing youngsters during those years and it is extremely amazing how Brandon has climbed into the upper echelon of  the “All-In Club” in regard to off-season dedication and commitment.  Brandon’s improvement curve is amazing and the fact that he is a highly intelligent and caring individual only makes him even more impressive.  He is truly one of the most coachable young men I have ever worked with.  I can’t wait to see how much further Brandon can “raise da bar”.

All the best, Brandon.  The reason you care so much about what you are doing is because of how deeply you have invested.  Dream BIG and get ready to keep on breaking through to new levels of fitness and performance.  It has been since 1999 that our boy’s team has toed the line in the IHSA STATE FINALS.  It is my hope that you can help to end that drought.  Continue to lead via example each and every day and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.  Also, thanks for bringing “da wife” on board as a manager.  In Peyton We Trust!

Brandon is the proud son of Trina Millard and Robert Ramos.  He is also the proud older brother of Aiden (9 years old and in 4th grade); Emma (5 years old and in Kindergarten); and Cole who is 0 years old and has yet to enter the educational field.  Due to extenuating circumstances, Brandon is currently living with the Schwerdt family (Will & Theresa) and his dear friend, Cole, so he can finish high school at Geneseo High School.  His mom and siblings live in Wapello, Iowa which he travels to often for some special “family time”.  His father lives in Burlington, Iowa and is an avid distance runner (genetics are a GOOD thing.)  We are all VERY proud of you, Brandon.  “It’s Time For You To FLY!”


Grass Relays Start


Pictured is the start of the Sterling Grass Relays (our boys.)  The men ran in teams of two
so the picture is of the first runner from each team (runner #2 ran after the one mile loop was completed.)  This went back-and-forth (relay-style) until each man had run three miles.


On Tuesday, August 23rd, the Leafs traveled to Sterling’s Hoover Park to participate in the traditional season opener with Sterling.  The meet is unique in that it is a SIX-mile race instead of THREE.  The main difference is that the distance is covered in teams of two (basically mile repeats with the recovery time being what when your partner is running.)  The meet is then scored with the 2nd runner running into the finish chute at the completion of their 3rd mile repeat.  The scoring is done in the traditional manner by totaling the first five finishers for each team (6th and 7th men can push the opposing team’s score upward.)  For any rookies out there  . . . LOW SCORE WINS.

The weatherman was kind to us with a race time temperature of 76˚ and a light wind of approximately 10 m.p.h.  Sterling has a powerful team and is state-ranked so we knew the competition would be challenging.  Since the meet is run in teams of two, TEN men actually figure into the scoring.  It was that depth that made the difference in the scoring as the Leafs ended up winning the meet by a score of 28 to 31.

The Leafs were led by the team of Nathan Soria and Brandon Ramos who raced to 2nd place overall.  The host Golden Warriors grabbed three of the top four places going 1-3-4 to take an early lead.  It was the Leafs’ depth that was the difference-maker as Geneseo snatched 5th through 11th with the teams of Noah Sebastian & Blake Duncan (5th);  Andrew Rizzo & Peter Rizzo (6th);  Charlie Schlindwein & Maguire Hoon (7th);  Kyle Sellers & Neo Colber (8th);  Colby Rapps & Nathan Carroll (9th);  Nelson Laingen & Christian Booth (10th);  and Chandler Schwartz & Tate Neff finishing in 11th place.  Not far behind were Hayes Murphy & Ky Ariano who placed 13th while Adam Wells & Nathan Lambert placed 14th.  Closing out the scoring were:  Tristen Johnson & Cole Schwerdt (17th);  Nik Floyd & Jacob Jorgensen (18th);  and Juan Mejias-Dansbach & Kaleb Efflandt who placed 19th.


Pictured are 6-month old Gunther Neff (Rottweiler) with his brother Tate.
Gunther wishes the team all the best this season.

This meet was an early season “snap shot” of our team’s current fitness level.  We are certainly a “work-in-progress” and have a tremendous amount of potential.  I know that some of the men weren’t satisfied with their races but I wouldn’t fret too much about that.  The ragweed count was very high so any athlete with weed allergies was certainly suffering (get ready for Sycamore.)  Also, we are still VERY early into the start of school so everyone’s body is adjusting to the change our daily schedules.  We also haven’t done a single step of speed work (why would we….it’s still AUGUST.)  The key right now is for everyone to do all the little things (proper sleep, hydration, nutrition, etc…) on a daily basis.  Also bring a positive attitude to practice each day.  The goal of everyone should be, “How can I make our team a little better today?”  It might be by words.  It might be via example.  If everyone is on THIS PAGE NOTHING CAN STOP US.  DREAM BIG AND LET YOUR FEET DO “da TALKIN”.  Job well done last night.  We are proud of you and hope your goals for this season will come to fruition.



Brandon and Nathan


Pictured are seniors Brandon Ramos and Nathan Soria who ran to 2nd and 3rd overall in the Rust Buster Time Trial.
Their effort level is obviously “All-Out” as they sprint for the finish chute.


On Thursday, August 18th, the Leafs hosted their traditional season opener “Rust Buster” Time Trial.  The team raced over Geneseo’s rugged two-mile course.  There is a reason that the park is called “Richmond HILL Park” and not just “Richmond Park”.  One of my favorite observations is seeing runners from other teams who have never seen our course panic with jaw-dropping fear as they look at our many hills.  Seeing “Death Valley Hill” nearly sends them home 🙂  That fact doesn’t make the hills any less challenging but it does give US confidence and, certainly, a home-course advantage!

The weatherman was NOT kind to us with a race time temperature of 86˚ with a heat index of 94˚.  The dew point was in the 70’s (oppressive) and the course was a “mud fest” as heavy rain fell the day before.  The race used a far from perfect handicapping system that has each class take off from the starting line separately.  The freshmen girls take off at 6:00 p.m.  They are followed (in 20 second intervals) by the sophomore girls, junior girls, senior girls, freshmen boys, sophomore boys, junior boys, and finally, the senior boys.  Each team member was asked to bring three canned goods (which were then donated to the Geneseo Food Pantry for needy families) and a T-Shirt that was used for the post race awards ceremony.  Following the race, Running Wild’s John Parker talked to the team about running gear and then the Booster Club drew the 5 lucky fundraiser winners that included prizes of an airplane ride around Geneseo, a Garmen Stop Watch, A gift certificate to Danny Boy’s Pizza, Geneseo Spirit Wear, and a gift certificate to Sweat Pea’s Restaurant.  Then we awarded the T-Shirts, etc…to the race finishers in the order that they finished.

Peter Rizzo ran to his 2nd straight title as he bested Brandon Ramos (2nd overall) and Nathan Soria (3rd overall) by 7 and 8 seconds.  Next up were:  Andrew Rizzo, Neo Coulter, Blake Duncan, Colby Rapps, Nathan Carroll, Noah Sebastian, and Kyle Sellers who grabbed places 4 through 10.  Not too far behind were:  Charlie Schlindwein (11th), Magure Hoon (12th), Christian Booth (13th), Nelson Laingen (14th), Ky Ariano (15th), Nathan Lambert (16th), Adam Wells, (17th), Hayes Murphy (18th), Luke Sebastian (19th), Tate Neff (20th), Juan Mejias-Dansbach (21st), and Kaleb Efflandt (22nd.)  Several teammates were unable to compete due to medical reasons or conflicts.  The places include the handicap formula that was utilized.  Both those results and the actual (real time) results are listed below.

Solid efforts, Men.  The conditions were brutal and our team is certainly a “work-in-progress” as we strive to peak for “Championship Meet Season”.  A special thank you goes out to Coach Philip Moe  for “taking the reins” as I’ve been on my back for 12-days with a medical emergency.  I have never missed the opening to a XC season but had no option.  I can’t wait to get healthy enough to rejoin the  team.  We have some HUGE goals for this season and I hope and pray that they will come to fruition.  Remember, we have NO WEAK LINKS.  Every single man will have a huge impact on this team.  Make it a positive one, Men and there will be no stopping us.  All the best.

A special thank you goes out to all the parent helpers that assisted us Thursday night.  Also, to our Booster Club who raised almost $3,000 dollars for our program.  The support that our parents supply never ceases to amaze me.  Men, you can’t pick your parents and most of you have hit “a home run” in this area.  Your parents “ROCK”.






Pictured is “Wilma Flintstone” officially kicking off the 2016 season.

Normally, we have a “First-Day” picture taken by Coach Tessie.  However we chose this picture because Coach Freddy was unable to attend the first week of practice due to some serious health issues.  Coach Tessie was “Nurse Tessie” taking care of Coach Freddy.  Fortunately, he is now back with us but he is weak and we know it will take some time before he is completely back to “full speed”.


On Wednesday, August 10th, the Leafs opened the season with their first official practice.  A large number of the boys have been meeting three times a week and running on their own of the remaining days each week.  We currently have 27 boys on the team and hope to add to that number in the next few weeks.  All the best, Men.  May you stay strong of mind and healthy of body.  The season offers many exciting possibilities.  Every man on the team has the exciting opportunity of being “that guy”.  “That Guy” that is the difference maker!  The difference maker between being a good team and becoming an exceptional team.  Every positive effected that each of you provides our team will help us to reach higher levels.  Try and be “that guy” and help lead the Leafs to a tremendous season.  Run for FUN and run for Personal Bests!




Pictured are the 2016 elected Geneseo XC Captains.
Seniors Nelson Laingen and Nathan Soria are fired up and ready to lead our team.


Elected 2015 Geneseo XC Captains Nelson Laingen and Nathan Soria have set some pretty lofty goals for the upcoming cross country season.  Among their goals is to help lead the Geneseo Maple Leaf Harriers back to the State XC Finas.  It has been 17 years since a Geneseo Boys XC TEAM toed the line in the IHSA finals and Nelson and Nathan think that it’s time to end that streak this fall.  The Leafs have had a plethora of powerhouse teams that barely missed during the last 17 years.  We just happen to be in an extremely challenging Sectional.  They know that it won’t be easy but we have a very exciting mix of talent on the team sprinkled in amongst each of the four classes.  Add in an omnipotent level of Passion and Purpose and the end result is OPTIMISM in “da Land of da Leafs”.

This is Nelson Laingen’s first turn at serving his team as an elected captain.  The best way to lead is via example and the coaching staff has every reason to believe that Nelson will do this at the highest level.  It is great so see Nelson back running and racing after painful bunion surgery on both feet last Spring that left him hobbled for an extended period of time.  Nelson is a wonderful young man and the trust his teammates have put in him is exceptional.  He has the unique challenge of leading our team from the middle of the pack (he is not in our Top 7.)  Nevertheless, he is willing and capable of this challenge and has the utmost respect of his teammates and coaches.

Nathan Soria is also a first-time captain.  However, he has been a leader since the first time he put on a pair of spikes.  He is a fierce competitor who is more than willing to pay the price that excellence demands.  This two-time All-Stater (in Track) is hoping to help lead the Leafs to the State Finals in November and, hopefully, bring back some hardware 🙂  DREAM BIG and try your best to help make our team better every single day.  CARPE DIEM.  In my opinion, being elected by your teammates as a captain is the highest honor any athlete can ever achieve.


Wednesday 8/10:  Practice at 7:30 (Activity Center)
Thursday 8/11:  Practice at 2:15 (Activity Center)
Friday 8/12:  Practice at 2:15 (Activity Center)

Detweiller Park sign


Pictured is the entrance sign to Detweiller Park in Peoria.
In case you’ve forgotten…that is where the STATE FINALS ARE RUN IN EARLY NOVEMBER!


“The will to means nothing without the will to PREPARE.”  Success in “Championship Meet Season” depends on the work you put in during the summer.  Hopefully, YOU are doing YOUR part!  Very few team members are recording their mileage.  Please train like a CHAMPION and record it on our website.  If you’re unsure how to do this please contact Coach Fredericks.  Dreaming BIG is an important step.  But “talking the talk” means little if you don’t “Walk the Walk”.  Remember we have NO WEAK LINKS.  Each and every one of you could be “the difference maker” on this year’s team.  Train with that thought in mind.  Also, do what you can to motivate your teammates.  Try and do at least one thing every single day this summer to HELP make our team BETTER!


Maple City 4 Winners 2016


Pictured are Geneseo Girls’ XC Head Coach Kelley Timmerman and Augustana College Star Kevin Claus
who where the overall champions in the 2016 Maple City 4.


On Saturday, June 18th, Geneseo hosted the Maple City 4 road race.  Geneseo’s oldest continuous race celebrated its 41st running this year.  The Geneseo Rotary Club is the primary sponsor of the race and we greatly appreciate their efforts over the years.  The race has gone by several names over the years and at one time offered both 5K and 10K race options.  Due to low numbers, we switched in 1997 to one four-mile race with a one-mile and a 1/4 mile option for the kids.

This year’s race was treated to a race time temperature of 71˚ with a dew point of 56.  Certainly a lot warmer than the last two years (low 60’s) but not too bad for late June in Illinois.  Add in a light wind out of the east at 8 miles per hour and you had an decent day to “lace em up”.  Geneseo High School Teacher Deanna Bott sang the National Anthem which was followed by J.J. Johnson’s starter’s pistol.  The men’s field was “loaded” and a strong lead pack took control of the race early and battled it out.  The top 5 runners were led by Race Champion Kevin Claus of Port Byron and were all 21 years of age or YOUNGER.  Impressive, to say the lease.  Several current & former team members toed the line with the following grabbing some hardware via their top top three placing in their age group:

  • 1st Place:  Neo Coulter  (14 and under)
  • 1st Place:  Peter Rizzo  (15-16)
  • 1st Place:  Jordan Starkey  (Class of 2013)  (19-24)
  • 1st Place:  Jordan Wildermuth  (Class of 2005  (25-29)
  • 1st Place:  Christian Rowlands  (Class of 2004)  (30-34)
  • 1st Place:  Jeff Brown  (Class of 1984)  (45-59)
  • 1st Place:  Cory Wirth  (Class of 1980)  (50-54)
  • 1st Place:  Don Fredericks  (Coach)  (55-59)
  • 2nd Place:  Ky Ariano  (14 & Under)
  • 2nd Place:  Andrew Rizzo  (15-16)
  • 2nd Place:  Brett Decker  (Class of 1987)  (45-49)
  • 3rd Place:  Nathan Carroll  (15-16)
  • 3rd Place:  Steve Dellett  (Class of 1977)  (55-59)
  • 3rd Place:  Jim VanVooren  (Class of 1959)  (75 and over)





WHEN: Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday (The week of 7/02-7/09 is No-Contact Week)
WHERE TO MEET: The high school athletic facility
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
HOW FAR DO I RUN? It’s up to you.
WHO CAN COME? Anyone including parents, friends, siblings

The summer mileage challenge has officially begun. Any athlete who meets the summer mileage challenges listed below will be awarded a summer mileage T-Shirt. The training runs from June 1st through August 31st. Anyone is eligible including parents and siblings. Team runs will be every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00 p.m. Coaches are limited by IHSA rules to meet no more than 25 times during the course of the summer including our Runstock Camp so different coaches may be in attendance from week to week. We will meet in the high school athletic facility. Look for Popsicles after most of the team runs provided by Mrs. Fredericks. On any day that the heat index is over 100˚ we will NOT meet. On those days, we encourage team members to run earlier in the day. If that is not possible, wait until later in the evening when the temperature has dropped. Remember: cross-training mileage also counts.

  • Biking (1/4 of the bike ride. For example, a 40 mile ride equals a 10 mile run)
  • Soccer games or practice (for team members on the soccer team….every hour of games or practice equals 3 miles) (unless you are a Goalie)
  • Basketball games or practice (for team members on the basketball team….every hour of games or practice equals 2 miles)
  • Swimming (every 1/4 mile is equal to 1 mile of running)
  • Ultimate Frisbee (2 miles for every hour played)

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