CHICAGO — Fenwick senior Anthony Rizzi was put in an unfamiliar situation Saturday at the Roy Gummerson Invitational at Schiller Woods.
The Friars dropped a couple of their younger runners to the sophomore race and the team was still without its No. 1 runner, Salvatore Flight, who is out with a fractured collarbone.
That meant Rizzi, who is usually the No. 4 or 5 runner, had to lead his team. He didn’t disappoint, taking 15th in a time of 16:27.9.
Fenwick head coach Dave Rill has been pleased with how well Rizzi has performed this season, but knows Rizzi needs to keep cutting time if the Friars are going to do well in regionals and beyond.
“The thing with Rizzi is we lose him during track because he has a job, so it makes it tough for him to try and break back into the top-seven guys,” Rill said. “To be honest, I was surprised at what kind of shape he came in and how well he’s done. He didn’t run summer camp so I didn’t know what to expect, but he’s progressing each week.”
Being prepared for the unexpected is a way of life for Rizzi. He belongs to the Boy Scouts and missed some practices and meets for scouting events in Wisconsin, Missouri and southern Illinois.
“I’m travelling almost every other weekend, giving speeches or working with troops,” Rizzi said. “My teammates are very patient with me and I can’t thank them enough. I love staying in shape and working with the younger guys on the team.”
Rizzi has been in the Boys Scouts for 10 years and last year he became an Eagle Scout. He’s in the Order of the Arrow, a scholarship program, and also stood vigil during the summer.
“The best way I can explain it is that you stay in the woods all night by yourself and you have to make sure you keep a fire going all night long,” Rizzi said. “You have to think about who you are and what kind of person you are.”
Rizzi plans to run for Section Vice Chief of Cook County in the springtime, which means he’d be travelling even more.
His teammates know that their success depends on how well Rizzi runs, but they also understand that he has other commitments.
“Of course we wish he was with us all the time, with the amount of talent he has,” Flight said. “But we realize that sometime other stuff gets in the way. So we just want him to give 100 percent in the time he’s with us and he does.”