Murray Domich has thoroughly enjoyed his two seasons coaching Marian Central runner Peter Walsdorf.
“He’s a happy-go-lucky, goofy guy,” the Hurricanes cross country coach said. “But at the same time, when he hits the (starting) line, he’s a racer. He doesn’t take anything too serious, but he’s the real deal when he’s in race. It’s the perfect scenario.”
Walsdorf, a senior, will be favored in the boys race at the East Suburban Catholic Conference Cross Country Meet Saturday at Arlington Park. Domich regards Walsdorf, last year’s ESCC runner-up, and Marist’s Jake Phillips as the top runners.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the seven-team ESCC flighted its races to limit the number of runners on the course at one time. The races are flighted by individual runners, with teams’ Nos. 1-4 runners in one race and Nos. 5-7 in the other. The freshman-sophomore girls race starts the day at 9 a.m.
The Kishwaukee River Conference Meet will run at 9 a.m. Saturday at McHenry Township Park in Johnsburg with the girls varsity race. Since the KRC is a six-team conference, it will run all its runners in one race.
Woodstock’s boys and Richmond-Burton’s girls are favored to repeat as team champions. Marengo’s Luke Chaffin will look to defend his individual title, while R-B’s Amanda Allport looks like the favorite in the girls race.
Waldsdorf finished last season taking 10th place in the Class 2A State Meet. He has not lost this season, with his closest race as a six-second win over Phillips in an ESCC triangular race.
Walsdorf will see his best competition of the season the next three Saturdays, at the conference, regional and sectional meets.
“We’ve made the most of the smaller meets. I’m still training hard and running well at the meets,” Walsdorf said. “These are going to be the most fun races we’ll have all year with more competition and great guys to run against. It should be fun.”
Domich gives credit to Walsdorf for running 60-65 miles a week over the summer, usually by himself. He has kept up that mileage through the season, but soon may cut back a bit.
“As a coach, you want to be careful and not overtrain because injuries are always an issue,” Domich said. “He’s a gamer in races, but he’s been phenomenal working-wise. He does everything I ask of him. The key it to ask enough, but not break him.”
Walsdorf was thrilled when the cross country season came around in late August.
“It was pretty tough, because I was running by myself for so long, in the spring too,” Walsdorf said. “We hadn’t had any races for six months. It was really nice to get the season back started.
“My finisher mile has gotten a lot better throughout the year. And figuring out my pace and strategy in order to win races by kind of holding on and having a good third mile to blow some guys away.”
Domich said the lack of a spring track season due to COVID-19 hurt many runners, including Walsdorf, with college coaches. They like to see distance runners’ speed in the track events to evaluate them.
Still, Walsdorf is on the radar of several NCAA Division I schools. He has interest from Creighton, Illinois-Chicago, Kansas, Valparaiso, Vanderbilt and MIT, among others. The 2019 Northwest Herald Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Marian’s Siobhan Stoll, is now at Creighton.
“I’m hoping that stuff will pick up,” Walsdorf said. “And maybe I’ll run a couple winter track meets and post some good times there.”
While there will be no official state meet, Walsdorf is looking forward to competing in the ShaZam Invitational, put on by the running website il.milesplit.com. That is an invite-only meet and will be on the weekend after the sectional meets.