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Mooseheart's boys cross country team huddles prior to the start of Saturday's IHSA Class 1A Aurora Christian Regional.
Farook Anifowshe (sixth from left) leads Mooseheart's team from the starting line at the IHSA Class 1A Aurora Christian Regional. Anifowshe finished finished 45th in the race.
Mooseheart junior Wal Khat heads the final yards before the finish line with a massive victory margin in the IHSA Class 1A Aurora Christian Regional. Khat is the only Mooseheart runner to advance to next weekend's Lisle Sectional.
AURORA, IL Oct. 20 – Mooseheart has only one boys cross country runner remaining in IHSA competition, but that one runner led everyone to the finish line in Saturday's Class 1A Aurora Christian Regional at Oakhurst Forest Preserve in Aurora.
Wal Khat, a junior for the Ramblers, ran the 2.95-mile course in 15:30.7 and won the race by 10 seconds over Richmond-Burton's Aaron Spivey.
“I feel good but I know I got more competition here than I did before,” Khat said. “It motivated me when I ran and that was good.”
Even with a commanding lead as he ran the final half-mile, Khat said his focus never wavered.
“I worked so my time would be lower,” Khat said. “There are people in this state who can run this distance in under 15 minutes and I need to work a lot harder.”
Khat broke to the front of the pack but ran with Spivey and Richmond-Burton's D.J. Wolfram for some of the early-going. By the midpoint of the race, Khat had broken away.
“I wanted to save a little of my energy,” Khat said. “I knew there were still two miles to run and I knew I could kick it in later.”
Mooseheart coach Gary Ward said getting a strong start from Khat has been a goal throughout the season. In his first year competing for Mooseheart, Khat has had a very strong season, and he heads to next week's Lisle Sectional as one of the favorites to earn a trip to the No. 3 state meet at Peoria's Detweiler Park.
“Most of our conference meets and others we have been to, he really hasn't had people to push him,” Ward said. “Today, he beat his best time by 49 seconds because he had guys to run with. This was his best performance. We've been trying to get him to start fast and to stay fast.”
Khat has the state meet in his mind as well, though the Lisle meet is certainly first on his mind.
“So now I go into training for the sectional,” he said. “I'll think about the state meet after I run the sectional.”
Mooseheart has not had cross country runners for years and this year fielded a full boys team. That team did not advance to the sectional meet, but Ward said the experience was good for the Ramblers. Senior Farook Anifowshe was the second Mooseheart runner across the line when he finished 45th.
“It's been a lot of fun and the guys have been really enthusiastic about it,” Ward said. “We've had good practices and I think they kind of learned along the way that running three miles is something they can do and have fun at.”