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Mooseheart junior Wal Khat runs behind Chicago Hope Academy's Luke Muzikowski early in Saturday's IHSA Class 1A Lisle Sectional. Khat finished third in the race behind Beecher's Grant Nykaza and Muzikowski and advanced to next week's IHSA state meet at Detweiler Park in Peoria.
Mooseheart junior Wal Khat runs in third place two-thirds of the way through the IHSA Class 1A Lisle Sectional. Wahl held third place to the finish and advanced to the state meet.
LISLE, IL, Oct. 27 - In its 99-year history, Mooseheart has never had a cross country runner place in the state meet.
Wal Khat moved one step closer to becoming the first when he finished third in the IHSA Class 1A Lisle Sectional on Saturday. Khat, a junior, covered the 3.1-mile course in 16:54, behind runaway winner Beecher's Grant Nykaza and second-placed Luke Muzikowski from Chicago Hope.
"I feel great because it was my goal to be able to go to state," Khat said. "I haven't been to state before, but today I made it. I wanted to win, but I got third, which is how the sport is sometimes. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win."
Khat has one week to prepare for the trip to Peoria's Detweiler Park, long-time host of the state meet.
"Now I go into training even harder and maybe I will get a good time when I go to state," Khat said.
Nykaza finished second in the Class 1A state meet as a junior while Muzikowski was 33rd and had a superb season this fall, including victory in the Luther North Regional. Both figure to be among the top runners at the state meet.
"I knew there were good runners here, and they ran faster than I did today," Khat said. "But Sport is Sport and maybe now, after I go into training even harder, maybe I will beat them."
Nykaza ran the course in 15:49 while Muzikowski ran 16:28. Khat was 26 seconds back in third, but he finished 3 seconds ahead of Richmond-Burton-s James Kaht to secure third place.
"We prepared all week long that this was going to be a good indicator to what state is going to be like," Mooseheart coach Gary Ward said. "We had a pretty good idea of how it was going to be run and how it was going to happen."
Lisle's course famously features a hill in the opening stages before flattening for the final two-thirds of the race. Runners' times were slower than at regionals and the toll was apparent after the race.
"The top three runners looked like they were sprinting the whole way and times were all about a minute slower," Ward said.
Nadler broke to the front and by the end of the first mile had a decent lead. That margin continued to grow throughout the race. Khat and Nadler were close to each other through the first half of the race before the Hope runner surged to consolidate second place.
Richmond-Burton won the team title at the sectional by placing its five scoring runners in the Top 12 team scoring placings. Latin, Johnsburg, Westmont and Northridge Prep were the other teams to advance from the sectional to the state meet.
Nykaza, Muzikowski and Khat claimed three of the seven individual state meet spots up for grabs. The others went to Clifton Central's Seth Trobaugh, Gardner-South Wilmington's Lane Hoffman, Pairie Central's Brandon Allsup and Aurora Christian's Jake Gehman.