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Trio runs their way to nationals

John Donovan, center, was one of three Cyclones who qualified for nationals.
John Donovan, center, was one of three Cyclones who qualified for nationals.

Three Cyclone runners from the men's team qualified for the NJCAA Championship after running solid races at the combined Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and NJCAA Region IV championships yesterday.

This was the first year since 2014 two championships were determined in one meet, but it yielded several personal bests and national berths. Overall, the Cyclones took third in conference as well as the region among a tough field.

Leading the way for the Cyclones all season, David Alvarez (Sandburg) finished this outing in fourth place in conference and fifth in region in 27:10. Diego Arana (Oak Lawn) was right behind him in sixth in the Skyway and seventh in region (28:05) and John Donovan (Lincoln-Way East) completed the trifecta in 10th for the conference and 14th for region (28:55). Those three are headed to nationals. Tinley Park alum Ettore Gaytan (20th conference/28th region, 30:44), Andrew grad Salah Mustafa (22nd conference/31st region, 31:09) and Solorio Academy product Isaiah Flores (24th conference/36th region, 35:00) rounded out the team effort.

"The men's race played out similar to how I expected. It was a race dominated by Skyway schools, so we knew that if we ran really well we had a chance at placing well in both championships. Alvarez made the decision before the race started to be bold and took a risk by leading the race early on. We knew the top six would separate themselves from the rest of the field, and he didn't want to make it easy for anyone. I'm happy with how he handled himself. Diego was in a tough spot. For most of the race he was surrounded by Harper College runners, but he did what he needed to do, and I'm happy with him for that. I can't remember the last time I've been as proud for a runner as I am with JD [John]. He was our 10th runner last year, but he worked extremely hard all offseason to put himself in a position to earn the accolades that he did on this day. We knew it would be a dog fight to get those last All-Conference and All-Region spots, and he pulled it off," said head Coach Dimitri Dimizas. "Ettore, Salah and Isaiah can leave with their heads held high. Ettore and Salah ran PR's in their final race as Cyclones, and that is a great way to go out. Isaiah was running a great race until he started feeling sick a couple miles in, but he has an incredible work ethic and one more season here. I'm excited to see what he'll do."

The trio head to Garden City, Kansas, for the NJCAA Championship with three runners from the women's team on Saturday, Nov. 10.