Billy Magnesen gets his kicks a different way

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When Billy Magnesen attended Hinsdale Middle School, cross country wasn’t his top priority at the time.

But years later after receiving some advice from his parents Mark and Sarah, the Hinsdale Central senior can’t imagine not running. 

One of Magnesen’s passions growing up was playing soccer. Magnesen played soccer as a freshman while bypassing cross country. But after he competed in track and field that spring, it was apparent to his parents that Magnesen had a talent fit for long-distance races. He then made a life-changing decision to give up soccer.

Hinsdale Central’s No. 1 cross country runner this fall, Magnesen is hearing from coaches in the Big Ten, as well as from Wake Forest, inviting him to run for their programs. There already is a former Devils runner at Wake Forest, Billy Fayette, who transferred there after Richmond dropped its cross country program.

Now in his third season with the varsity, Magnesen has not lost to a runner from Illinois this year. 

“It is pretty incredible how I am doing this season,” Magnesen said. 

One of the big changes from last season was deciding to make a larger commitment to running and working with Red Devils’ coach Jim Westphal, a former track and field state champion from Oak Park-River Forest. Magnesen finished 32nd in last year’s state meet, but has developed in a contender for this year’s Class 3A state title.

“The biggest difference has been my offseason. I am running way more,” Magnesen said. “I am running 70 miles per week. Last year, I barely ran 50 miles per week.”

Magnesen’s best race this season heading into Saturday’s Lockport Invitational was runner-up at the First to the Finish Invitational Sept. 14 at Detweiller Park in Peoria, site of the state meet Nov. 9. He placed second (14 minutes, , 36.86 seconds) behind the Hoosier State’s top runner, Calvin Kraft (14:36.22) of Fishers, Ind.

“We expect to compete for the win. We expect a good race against good teams,” Magnesen said about Lockport Saturday.

Magnesen won the Hornet-Red Devil Invitational in 15:32.32 time season-opening Hornet-Red Devil Invitational Sept. 7 at Hinsdale’s Legge Park, which will also host the Class 3A sectional Nov. 2.

The Devils were ranked No. 1 early in the season by Dyestat and now are second behind York, who won Saturday’s Palatine Invitational. West Suburban Silver rival Downers Grove North is ranked No. 5 and Lyons is No. 16.

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