MIDLOTHIAN — Blake Evertsen led Hinsdale Central to a second-place team finish at the Class 3A Marist Sectional Saturday.
Evertsen (14:44) finished second behind Ryan Clevenger (14:33) of Downers Grove North at Midlothian Meadows.
While Evertsen is heading back to the state meet, he’ll be joined by a different group that won the state title last season.
Evertsen, a sophomore, and junior Chris Brenk were the only Red Devils runners at the sectional that appeared in last year’s state meet. Brenk (15:08) placed 21st at the sectional and was Hinsdale Central’s No. 3 runner to finish.
Hinsdale Central (94) came in runner-up behind Sandburg (39), which placed all five of its runners in the top 11.
At state last season, Evertsen was 29th and Brenk was 43rd to finish fourth and fifth among Devils runners.
With a relatively new group, including seniors Josh Feldman (17th, 15:06), Alex Domiano (26th, 15:20) and Griffin Gartner (32nd, 15:27), Evertsen knows it would not be fair to compare this year’s team to last year’s champs.
“Our goal is to be a ‘better’ team than last year,” Evertsen said. “People that interview us were saying to us, ‘What place will you finish this year?’ That’s not our focus. We’re just trying to do the little things better, like eating better and practicing at a faster pace. We’ll be ready for the state meet Nov. 8.”
Evertsen was happy to run a season-best time at the sectional. He finished second to Clevenger, a senior, for the second consecutive week after Clevenger won the Hinsdale Central Regional in 14:52.
The other newcomers to the state meet for the Devils will be sophomore Ethan Planson and junior Nathan Hill, who placed 44th and 46th respetively at the sectional.
“Last year we had a good team and I knew we worked really hard,” Evertsen said. “We had to repair a lot. Well, I wouldn’t say repair, it was more likely reload. Everyone has a sense of carrying on the legacy. We had to step up and improve those gaps [lost from last year].”
With a new-look lineup, Devils coach Jim Westphal doesn’t know what to expect at the state meet in Peoria. If Saturday’s sectional was a preview, Westphal will be able to count on Evertsen to run out front for the Devils.
“Blake ran very well,” Westphal said. “I’m happy to see that. His goal was to go out [fast] at the sectional. I thought he would finish in the top five. He looked fantastic.”