Guilford Boys XC prepares for first team state appearance in 18 years

The team also won the NIC-10 meet this year for the first time since 2004
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 11:05 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - When Rick Durso first arrived at Guilford to become the cross country team’s head coach, he had his work cut out for him.

“We struggled to finish not in last place in the conference meet, we struggled to get kids out I think our first year here we had 18 or 19 kids total, boys and girls,” Durso said.

“They were great kids and they loved being a part of the team but we had to change the culture,” Durso added.

And over time, Guilford did just that, participation numbers have roughly doubled for the program and a new attitude has formed.

“They’ve become students of the sport, they’re starting to hold each other accountable, and it’s all about that culture,” Durso said.

“I think we’re just tired of being the bottom school and we’re just working to be a top one and we’re showing that we can be,” senior runner Juan Del Real said.

Now the boys team is poised to take on the 3A state championship in Peoria Saturday. Even with so much already accomplished this season, Guilford is still planning to give it their best shot.

“It definitely makes me happy to be a part of this but you know the job’s not finished,” junior runner Brandon Lawson said.

And Guilford’s state qualification didn’t come easily. Guilford’s nearby geography makes it difficult for runners to safely make their way through Rockford. According to Lawn Love, Rockford ranks as the 18th-worst city for runners.

“We live in a concrete jungle, and it’s very frustrating is not the word but I envy the teams that can just run across the street and be in a forest preserve, Durso said, ”We’re very fortunate that we have places like Rock Cut (State Park) and some other places but–it sounds simple–but it’s not so simple to grab 40 kids and bring them to a location after school.”

“The challenge has been to really change up our routes every day, every week,” Durso said.

Despite all the challenges though, the G-Vikes aren’t making excuses.

“We’re just more hungry than other schools to be better and the drive to get better is higher for us,” Lawson said.