Cross Country: Nykaza shows class against stiff competition
By Mike Clark email@example.com September 24, 2012 8:52PM
Beecher's Grant Nykaza celebrates his win in the 1,600 meters at the 2012 Class 1A state track meet. | File photo
Updated: October 26, 2012 2:09PM
Competing in Class 1A, Beecher senior Grant Nykaza doesn’t get pushed much.
So when he got a chance to race against some better runners Saturday, Nykaza took full advantage.
Nykaza kicked past St. Ignatius’ Jack Keelan to win the boys title in the Palatine Invitational at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve, running 14 minutes, 36.4 seconds for three miles.
Keelan was six-tenths of a second back in second place.
“It was a fun race,” Nykaza said. “We were just going back and forth. I think he was keying off me and I was keying off him. If anything, we were running each other’s races. I think it was the same strategy for both of us — just hang loose for the first two miles.
“I felt him start going with about a mile to go. (With) 800 (meters) to go, he had a little bit on me, but I trust my kick. ... When I was kicking, he was kicking and I had one more gear today.”
Nykaza’s goal is to have that extra push when he heads back to state for the fourth time in November. He’ll be looking for his first cross country state championship after finishing fourth, second and second the past three years. He also won the Class 1A 1,600-meter title in track last spring.
“You know, if I don’t go down in history winning the state title, who knows what people will think of me?” Nykaza said. “And even what I will think of myself? I’d be very upset (not to win).”