Boys Cross Country: Lofty goal for Plainfield South’s Lathrop
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media October 13, 2013 5:40PM
Dan Lathrop of Plainfield, South | Vincent D. Johnson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2013 6:18AM
When the IHSA honors the top 25 runners in each class after the state meet next month, Dan Lathrop could be one of the last names announced.
The Plainfield South senior went from 122nd as a sophomore — his first year running cross country — to 28th last season in Class 3A, just three spots shy of All-State status.
Lathrop’s goal for his final high school cross country race goes beyond making the top 25.
“I want to go down there and compete for the state championship,’’ he said. “I want to be a state champion.
“Obviously, that’s a big goal. I’ve got some work to do before I get there, but I don’t think that’s out of reach.’’
Lathrop proved that with a second-place finish among 550 runners at the Sept. 21 Peoria Notre Dame Invitational. He covered the Detweiller Park course in 14 minutes, 35 seconds, good enough to be among the top 10 at the 2012 state meet.
The only runner ahead of Lathrop at the Peoria Notre Dame race was O’Fallon’s Patrick Perrier (14:24), who was third at last year’s state final.
“I ran a good race at Peoria,’’ Lathrop said. “I really felt good there.’’
Lathrop finished third (15:58) among 250 runners at the Oct. 5 Lockport Invitational, which featured several state-ranked teams.
Downers Grove North’s Zack Smith (15:42) and Hinsdale Central’s Kevin Huang (15:53) went 1-2 on the hilly Dellwood Park course.
“I’m definitely feeling stronger than I have in the past,’’ Lathrop said. “I feel I’m in the best shape of my life right now. I’m really excited about that going into some of these races.’’
The Southwest Prairie Conference meet is Saturday at Hammel Woods, where Lathrop will resume his rivalry with Plainfield East All-Stater Joseph Suarez.
Lathrop edged Suarez at the Marist Sectional last year, but Suarez finished 19th at the state meet to earn All-State recognition.
“Off the course I’ve talked to him. He’s a really nice guy,’’ Lathrop said. “But when it comes down to the race, it’s no mercy. It’s really been a great competition and I think we’ve made each other a lot better.’’
Lathrop’s contributions to Plainfield South’s team aren’t limited to his impressive times.
“Dan has the highest character as a young man,’’ Plainfield South coach Jason Crowe said. “He’s the leader on our team. You could probably sit back and let him run the practice. He’s a student of the sport.’’
Lathrop said he will “focus on the middle part of the workout’’ to strengthen his race as he prepares for the upcoming weeks.
“I’m really looking as we go into conference, regionals, sectionals, to get some more wins,’’ he said. “When we get to state, to put myself in a position where I can challenge for the state championship.’’