McHenry senior Jesse Reiser was forewarned by his college running friends who already had gone through the recruitment process.
Illinois’ Garrett Lee and Kansas’ Tyler Yunk, former standouts at Belvidere North, offered the lowdown on what would occur on July 1, the first day college coaches can call upcoming senior athletes.
Reiser realized how much in demand he was that day as his cell phone kept ringing.
“I never pictured it being that hectic,” said Reiser, who received almost 20 calls that day. “It was pretty surreal.”
It’s no wonder Reiser was in such high demand. He was runner-up in the Class 3A cross country state meet, then won the 3,200 meters in the Class 3A track and field state meet.
Reiser is regarded as the top boys distance runner in the state as he starts his senior season, although he doesn’t look at it that way.
“I feel anyone who’s up in the race could win,” Reiser said. “The competition’s really tough all the way through Illinois. Usually the top guys in Illinois are pretty hard to beat.”
Reiser was the Northwest Herald Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year and the Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. He lost to O’Fallon’s Patrick Perrier by 1 second in cross country, but he blew the rest away in the 3,200 meters in track.
“Through his hard work, dedication and passion for the sport, Jesse has the ability to excel and achieve his high goals,” Warriors coach Beth Czubik said. “It's been very exciting to watch Jesse gain confidence and grow as a runner. He's very coachable, learns quickly, and is always willing to give it his all and do the little things.
“That will take him to the next level. In addition, he inspires the team as a whole by setting an example.”
Reiser hopes to make his college decision by November, the early signing period for national letters of intent. That signing period was moved up in cross country from February.
Reiser could make some visits during the season on Saturdays after he has raced. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to McHenry, with Michael Hahndorf, Tyler Lay and some strong incoming freshmen, making a little noise as a team.
“We’re looking for finish high in the [Fox Valley] Conference,” Reiser said. “We’re kind of flying under the radar and think we can do some pretty good things.”
Czubik appreciates what it’s like to work with arguably the state’s best runner.
“He’s very coachable, he learns quickly and he’s always willing to give his all,” Czubik said. “He’s always willing to give it his all and do the little things that will take him to the next level. He inspires the whole team by setting an example.”
Notes: Reiser may not be challenged in the area, with the group behind him likely including four standout juniors – Hahndorf, Woodstock’s Luke Beattie and Huntley’s Keagan Smith and Seth Conroy.
Those four have made impacts with their varsity teams since their freshman years.
Defending Fox Valley Conference Meet champion Crystal Lake Central and runner-up Jacobs both suffered key losses to graduation, so watch for McHenry and Prairie Ridge to be strong contenders.
McHenry has some talented freshmen to add to its lineup. Prairie Ridge returns four of its top five runners – Filip Pajak, Mitch Kazin, Scott Hearne and Chris Berg.