Although the Bishop Hendricken cross country team fell short in its state title defense in the 2019 season, a handful of Hawks have still made plenty of noise on the course.
Junior Evan Reynolds had a breakout year for the Hawks, finishing third at states and most recently taking home a 6th-place finish at the Nike Northeast Regional meet last week in New York.
The strong finish helped Reynolds punch his ticket to this weekend’s Nike National race in Portland, Oregon, where he and the Hawks competed as a group and took fourth place last year.
“I was hoping that the entire team would qualify together like last year, but I am still really happy to qualify myself,” said Reynolds. “I came out fast (at regionals), maybe a little too fast, but I kept my pace and hung in there behind (La Salle’s) Jack McLoughlin after the halfway mark. I know that I’ll be mentally tougher going against the top guys in the nation.”
Experience in the national spotlight as well as familiarity with the course in Oregon will be an advantage, especially over rival La Salle, who qualified as a team and will be competing against Reynolds one last time this season.
“Last year, I only ran on the course once. Looking at a team like La Salle, they’re going to be like I was last year, they’re kind of rookies on the course. So I’m going to go pedal to the metal and I know exactly where to go. There will be no mistakes and no trepidation while I run this time. I’m going to know exactly when to go and jump ahead. I see it as an opportunity to avenge (the second-place finish at states) for my team,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds’ top priority will be running his best yet and also representing Bishop Hendricken with pride.
“I’m not as concerned with the place (I finish) as much as my time. I’m trying to beat 15.30, last year I was at 16, so this year I want to at least beat that. I also want to beat the La Salle team, Jack McLoughlin has been beating all year so I want to see if I can beat him on the national stage,” said Reynolds, who credits his teammates for helping him perform at his best this year. “I love this group, they’re always there for me no matter what. It’s disappointing to not be able to go with everyone, but I feel like I am going there for them. My success is their success.”
Reynolds also looks forward to preparing himself for one last season at Hendricken next year.
“I’m really excited to be able to go to nationals again. I qualified last year and now this year, which means that I’m all but guaranteed to go again next year,” said Reynolds. “This year is going to be about seeing how high I can get and setting a bar to jump over next year.”