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Mooseheart junior Wal Khat (white headband) moves through the pack during the opening sprint at the IHSA Class 1A Boys Cross Country race. Wahl finished 24th and became the school's first medalist in the sport.
Mooseheart's Wal Khat (No. 717) heads down the final straight in the IHSA Class 1A Boys Cross Country race.
Mooseheart's Wal Khat stands with the other individual winners with his 24th-place medal around his neck. Khat is the first cross country medalist in Mooseheart history.
PEORIA, IL Nov. 3 - He started well, ran a strong middle portion of the race and worked hard to hang on in the final stretch - and that all-out effort earned junior Wal Khat the first IHSA cross country medal in Mooseheart history.
Khat finished 24th in the Class 1A Boys race on Saturday, and the top 25 individual finishers earned medals. With his finish, Khat also earned all-state honors.
"I'm glad with how my first time at state went," Khat said. "I'm proud of myself. It's not easy to come to state."
Khat ran 15:25 on the 3.1-mile course at Detweiller Park, the longtime site of the state cross country meets. That pace was faster than he ran in the 2.95-mile Aurora Christian regional course and significantly faster than in the hilly 3.1-mile Lisle Sectional.
"I feel good," Khat said. "This is how it is in Sport. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. Now I see how the people are running and I am going to prepare harder for next year and try to do better."
The Detweiller Park course features a long, wide opening stretch before settling into a typical race setting. Khat moved steadily toward the head of the field and was in the Top 10 as the runners made their first lap on the course.
"I told him that he was running from the same starting box as the guy from Beecker (Grant Nykaza) and the guy from Chicago Hope (Luke Muzikowski)," Mooseheart coach Gary Ward said. "He ran against them last weekend at the sectional. I told him to try to stick with those guys at the start and he'd be all right."
Nykaza won the race, covering the course in 14:22 and defeating Mt. Zion's Jake Brown by 18 seconds. Muzikowski finished 10th.
"It's definitely tough if you have to pass guys, especially if there's a pack of them." Ward said.
The experience of his first trip to the state meet gave Khat a wealth of information from which he can build as he prepares for his senior cross country season.
"This is good competition," Khat said. "This was my first year running on grass. Before, I only ran on concrete. So now I've learned a little more about running on grass. It's a little more complicated."
While the sectional took place on a chilly, windy day - the air was calm for the state meet. While race officials said there was sleet overnight, the temperature was moderate for early November in central Illinois.
"It was perfect weather," Khat said. "It was perfect weather for running."
While Khat said he has intentions of competing for state honors as a senior, he is also anticipating the 2013 track season.
"I want to go to state in track and I'm looking forward to doing this next year in cross country," Khat said.
After the race, Khat met some Moose members who were in the crowd. Mooseheart has been supported by the men and women of the Moose fraternity since its 1913 founding.
"You know, some people come up and they say they want to give me a hug because they say they are proud to be Moose members and to see me run," Khat said. "They tell me to keep working harder and they are really excited about how I ran."