All-Area Boys Cross Country: Runner of the Year and First Team
Lake Forest's Billy Bund is Pioneer Press' Runner of the Year. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:25PM
Billy Bund didn’t even run during the first three weeks of the 2012 season after missing last year’s postseason because of a hip injury.
The Lake Forest senior made quite a comeback to not only reach the state meet, but finish fifth (in a school-record 14 minutes, 17 seconds) to become the first Scouts runner to medal in Class 3A. He also became Lake Forest’s first medalist since Jim Gibson won the Class AA title in 1985.
Bund started running as a sophomore, but as a freshman, he was a wide receiver in football and a baseball outfielder.
Is there anything you miss anymore about football or baseball? “I miss a lot of the players and coaches on both the football and baseball teams. I miss eating sunflower seeds with the guys and listening to pump up music in the locker rooms before games.”
Did your relative lack of weight (Bund is 6-foot, 140 pounds) become the deciding factor in you giving up football and baseball? “Actually, I did a running camp at the high school the summer after my freshman year and just fell in love with the sport. There is just something about running that makes me feel good. It never gets old. The thing that I really like about running is that if you put in the work and you are truly dedicated to the sport, it can be incredibly rewarding.”
What has been the biggest key to coach Nate Sweet’s development or transition for you to become an elite cross country runner? “Coach Sweet has been there for me through the entire process. From Day One, he was set on bringing out the best in me and the best in my teammates. Cross country runners are a long-term investment, from a coach’s perspective. Since Coach Sweet is a very accomplished runner himself, it was easy for me to look to him for guidance.”
ALL-AREA FIRST TEAM
Billy Bund, Lake Forest
See Runner of the Year Q & A.
Micah Beller, Niles North
The Niles North senior’s first major win was a title at the season-opening Hornet-Red Devil meet in Hinsdale. He also won at St. Charles North, the Niles North quad, the Maine West quad and the Central Suburban North championship. His 10th-place finish at Class 3A state (14:38) was the second-fastest and second-best finish in school history.
Ryan Burgoon, Barrington
The senior saved his best for last, running a personal-record 14:40 to place 12th at the Class 3A state meet. Burgoon was 19th at Peoria’s Spring Invite Sept. 15 and 16th at the Palatine Invite Sept. 22, but took off late in the season with fourth-place finishes at Wheeling Oct. 6 and at the Schaumburg Sectional.
Michael Matusiak, Lyons
Matusiak, the leader of a Lyons team that placed third at Class 3A state, was a regular top finisher for Lyons this season. Matusiak struggled at the regional and sectional, but was first again for Lyons at state, taking 11th (14:38). He won the season-opening Lyons Invite.
Alex Milner, Lake Zurich
The senior bounced back after finishing 14th at the Schaumburg Sectional to place 16th at the Class 3A state meet with a personal-best 14:42. He placed 25th at the Springs Invitational in Peoria Sept. 15 and was sixth at Wheeling Oct. 6. “Being able to achieve a goal I set four years ago (making the all-state team) is unbelievable, and the memory of being on that state stage will always be an amazing memory,” Milner said.
Steven Salvano, Buffalo Grove
Just a junior, Salvano will return to run next year for coach Jamie Klotz. Salvano finished ninth at the Class 3A state meet with the second-fastest time in school history (14:37). He was the Mid-Suburban League runner-up, second at the regional and third at the sectional.
Jon Vaccaro, Maine South
The Loyola Regional champion, Central Suburban League South champ and District 207 titleist carried his success into the Class 3A state meet, where he finished 15th (14:41). “Jon displays an excellent work ethic year round,” coach Greg Nordahl said.
— George Wilcox