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Wolves junior gets good mileage indoors

Oswego East’s Blanco sets program record in 2-mile run at Batavia

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017 4:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 16, 2017 4:49 p.m. CDT
Photo provided Oswego East junior Matt Blanco (left) set a program record in the indoor 3,200-meter run last weekend at the Batavia Distance Madness meet, running the metric two miles in 9:46.3.

There are still many miles to go in Matt Blanco’s track season.

He just ran two to remember.

Blanco, an Oswego East junior, ran the 3,200 meters in 9 minutes, 46.42 seconds at the Batavia Distance Madness meet last weekend. Running about 20 seconds faster than his marks from earlier in the indoor season, Blanco bested the previous indoor school record in the metric 2-mile held by Ryan Fluke.

For this outstanding effort, Matt Blanco is the Ledger Athlete of the Week.

“I didn’t expect to get it by that much,” Blanco said. “I didn’t go out the way I wanted, but I finished well. I almost even-split my two miles.”

Not bad for only his second indoor race of the season.

“It was kind of what we expected,” Oswego East distance coach Jim Milner said. “He shows those signs in workouts. We’re looking for him to get better and keep improving. It’s a big drop in time.”

Blanco was the No. 1 seed in his section of the race, so he expected to be out front pushing. He won Section 3 of the race, and was seventh overall.

“Even if I’m not one of the top runners I want to go out with that top group,” Blanco said.

Blanco caught the running bug in fourth grade. He ran a 5K and won the elementary school division while at Wheatlands Elementary. He hasn’t stopped since.

Blanco was a solid fresh-soph runner last spring, occasionally sticking his nose in varsity races.

“He’s one of those up and coming kids,” Milner said, “a real good kid, hard worker. He’s every bit of that.”

Blanco, though, was plagued by tendinitis in his knee that slowed him down last spring. He’s since been prescribed exercises to do before and after practice, and reports a relatively clean bill of health from that rehab.

Blanco took home all-conference honors in cross country last fall.

“He took a pretty big step forward,” Milner said. “He was banged up a little last year but he’s fought through that stuff. He’s a good racer.”

Blanco isn’t quite sure where his next runs will be.

Oswego East is at the Southwest Prairie Conference indoor meet this Saturday at Lewis University, and back in Romeoville the next weekend for the Fast Times Meet.

There’s a possibility, though, that Blanco could skip indoor conference and compete at the Top Times meet at Illinois Wesleyan March 24-25.

The Wolves head outdoors the first week of April, and Blanco already has his sights set high.

“My goal is to win conference for the two-mile. It could be a little tough because we have the state cross-country champ in our conference (Minooka’s Soren Knudsen),” Blanco said. “My ultimate goal is to make state.”

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