MT. VERNON —
David Modert's start at the state final cross country race will be critical.
Modert's starting position at Saturday's 2A boys competition is on the extreme left side of the lineup. Dozens and dozens of other runners will be strung out to his right.
“The entire rest of the field will be coming in from my right, making a left turn,” Modert said. “I can't wait to make a move.”
The start is important because the competitors run down a gradual hill before encountering a quick turn to the left. Modert said the start is important because he doesn't want to fall behind and get pinned around the tight turn. The severe change of direction causes such a backup that runners slow to a near walk around the corner, according to coach Clint Turner.
“It's going to be a challenge for him just to keep an eye on what's going on to his right and being smart there,” Turner said. “If you get around that curve in good position I think it's going to be a good day.”
If Modert falls behind at the turn the race isn't over, but Turner said he will have to try to race his way back into the lead pack.
Modert is prepared for the challenge awaiting him at Peoria's Detweiller Park. It's a course he's raced several times during his running career, including a 34th place finish last year at the state final.
“It's a pretty fast course,” Modert said. “The first mile I expect that I need to be about 4:50 to even be in the race, to even be a contender, and it will be a fast race. It always is. I need to work on surging on the downhills and maintaining my speed going on the uphills.”