Nick Kirk ran the “most impressive” cross country race in school history this weekend.
Kirk took 14th in the 3A IHSA state cross country meet Saturday, running three miles in 14:45.
“It was just an amazing race,” said DGS Cross Country Coach Brian Caldwell. “We thought if he ran really well he’d have a shot at all-state (top 25 runners). We didn’t really think 14th place was something that was attainable. As the race progressed I was partially in shock.”
Kirk is only the second All-Stater for boys cross country in DGS history. “We had a guy 10 years ago who got 18th,” Caldwell said. “He came in at 14:46.”
Kirk ran the first mile in 4:44.
“He’d never ran a single mile that fast before,” Caldwell said. “He kind of laughed and kept going. He ran his personal best for the one-mile, two-mile and three all in the same race.”
“He said, ‘I just had fun,’” Caldwell said. “He just kind of went for it and enjoyed the ride.”
Harry Miles, the other DGS senior to qualify for state for the boys team, came in 51st with a personal-best time of his own, 15:16.
Miles had the unfortunate circumstance of someone stepping on his shoe early in the race, making it come loose. With about 400 meters left in the race, the shoe actually came off and Miles crossed the finish line without it.
“It wasn’t the perfect race he had planned,” Caldwell said. “To his credit, he went out and ran hard and ran eight seconds faster than he’d ever ran before.”
It was the first trip to state for both Kirk and Miles. Though Downers South as a team did not qualify for state (the team took seventh at its sectional), the seven best runners not on a qualifying team qualify for state individually.
The pair started running cross country together in junior high and continued during all four years at .
“We knew they were going to be really good this year,” Caldwell said. “Down the stretch with regionals and sectionals, it seemed they were peaking at the right time and it all just fell into place.”
Kirk and Miles have run together since middle school. They’re inseparable both on and off the cross country course, Caldwell said.
“They push each other in practice and in races,” Caldwell said. “When they’re both running well, it’s one after the other. They work together the whole race. They’re really good friends.”
They’ve succeeded because they run seven days a week, Caldwell said. Plenty of the guys at state are fast, he said. The pair succeeded because they had the strength and endurance to hold on. Kirk picked up 10 places in the last mile, Caldwell said.
“They have run more mileage in their high school career than anyone else who has gone through the DGS cross country program,” he said. “They’ve been running 60 to 70 miles a week since they were sophomores. It’s one of the great things about the sport that the more work you put into it the more you get out of it.”