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Wheeling Park Boys XC Team Off to Fast Start

Patriots have claimed three invitational victories

Photo by Kyle Lutz Jonah Nizami and the Wheeling Park boys cross country team has started the 2020 season in impressive fashion. The Patriots have secured a first place finished in all three of the invitationals that they’ve competed in.

WHEELING — The Wheeling Park boys cross country team has gotten off to a great start to the 2020 season. Three meets in, the Patriots have claimed the top spot in every invitational.

They opened the season winning their annual Wheeling Park Fall Classic on Sept. 5 followed by a victory at the Chick-Fil-A Invitational (Sept. 12). Four days later, the Patriots took the hardware at the Bryan Fritz Memorial Invitational at Brooke.

“To start the season with three wins in three races is a nice payoff for the guys’ work this summer and really last spring,” Wheeling Park coach Jacob Galik said. “The races are the fun part. Everyone wants to win, not everyone is willing to put in the work to make it happen. Winning the first home meet against Bridgeport and JM was big, but going down to Chick-Fil-A, where no Park team has ever won, was huge. It has made the guys hungry for more.”

Arguably the most important dynamics of a cross country team is its depth. And boy, does Wheeling Park have it.

Two times this year, the Patriots have had at least four runners place in the Top 10.

At the Wheeling Park Fall Classic, Brady Miller won the event while Jonah Nizami claimed second. Max Morgan got fourth while Trent Thomas placed eighth and Eli Miller 10th.

At the Bryan Fritz Memorial, Nizami, Morgan and Brady Miller placed fourth, fifth and sixth while Midcap got 10th.

However, an important factor is just how close they are time-wise against each other. At the Chick-Fil-A Invite, the top five runners were all within 59 seconds of each other.

“Our depth is what separates us,” Galik said. “We won at Chick-Fil-A specifically because of how strong Hunter Midcap, Eli Miler, Trent Thomas and Brady Amico ran. I don’t want to diminish what Jonah, Brady and Max are doing, because they lead the way in so many aspects, but good teams are strong 1-7. We haven’t really had this kind of consistency before. Our spread (the time between our 1-5 runners) was 59 seconds at Chick-Fil-A. That is outstanding and what our goal has been all season.”

Nizami has been the top runner for Wheeling Park in two races. He led the way at the Chick-Fil-A Invite by placing ninth at 16:58.15. Brady Miller was just behind him in 10th at 17:01.54.

“Jonah announced himself last year by running the fastest times in the history of the school for a freshman. That is saying something,” Galik said. “He has put in the work to make himself even better this season. I’m excited to see what he and we can do as the meets start to matter more…after Oct. 3, every race we run has the word ‘championship’ in the title and those carry more weight and meaning. I’m excited to see what we can do!”

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