SOMERS — There were 200 meters of make-or-break Wayne E. Dannehl National Country Course real estate ahead of Drew Bosley on Saturday morning.
He was in 11th place and the same legs that had carried him to a WIAA Division 1 state championship a month earlier were spent.
The choice for the son of former Case High School running great Laura Bosley (nee: Petersen) was to either will himself into 10th place and earn a trip to California for the Foot Locker National Meet or believe the ominous messages his body was sending him.
Somehow, the state champion from Mequon Homestead overtook Gabe Fendel, who has a 4:04 mile on his resume, and earned the 10th and final qualifying position in the Midwest Regional at UW-Parkside.
Bosley covered the 5,000-meter course in near-perfect weather conditions in 15:10.4 – 2.1 seconds faster than Fendel. Daniel Kilrea of La Grange Park, Ill., defeated a field that included defending champion Dylan Jacobs with a time of 14:53.3 in his first appearance at this meet. Kilrea’s time was the third-fastest in the history of the boys seeded race.
That means Bosley is off to San Diego, where he will compete in the Foot Locker National Meet Dec. 9 at Balboa Park. In the truest sense of the word, he earned this trip.
“I knew the people I had to beat and I just got a strong kick of adrenaline and I just kicked it in as hard as I could,” Bosley said. “It happened to be that the guy I out-kicked was a 4:04 miler, so that felt pretty good.”
It just didn’t feel so good when Bosley crossed the finish line – with his arms draped around race officials Cori McFadden and Jon Pomeroy. Bosley was so spent willing himself to that final qualifying position that he appeared totally exhausted as he staggered forward with the assistance of McFadden and Pomeroy and struggled to catch his breath.
“It was basically a two-and-half mile race of body blows with all those hills and stuff setting up for like an 800-meter race,” said Bosley, a junior who was seventh at the state cross country meet as a freshman and second as a sophomore.
“I put my body through so much just to stay in that lead pack and just have a chance to qualify,” he said. “I just gave it all I had. I had nothing left at the end and I’m just happy that I was good enough to qualify.”
His mentor all these years has been his mother, a 1996 Case graduate who was an multiple NCAA Division II and NAIA All-American at Parkside. It was Laura Bosley who instilled within the older of her two sons the idea of no pain, no gain.
And just for good measure, she took him to Parkside a week earlier for a refresher course on the ins and outs of a course she said she knows, “like the back of my hand.”
“We came here last weekend and ran the course together,” said Laura Bosley, now a 39-year-old dental assistant in Thiensville. “We just went over all the mile markers and then I let him know that between the two mile and two and a half is always the toughest area because there’s a lot of rolling hills.
“You need to get into a good position, try to hold that spot and finish strong.”
To say the least, her son did her proud Saturday morning.
“There’s just so much strength in him and he just really wanted this,” Laura Bosley said.
Kilrea, the Illinois Division 3 state champion who plans to continue his running career at Notre Dame next fall, took ownership of this course on his first try.
“I pushed it on the downhills a lot and I think that contributed to me getting out in front of the pack,” said Kilrea, who won by 12 seconds over runner-up Zach Kreft of Sunbury, Ohio. “I just know that after an uphill, people tend to take it easy, so when you go hard on the downhills, you kind of get them when they’re not as focused.”
Jacobs, who was 11th at the national meet last year, was fifth in 15:07.5.
The girls champion was Olivia Theis of Lansing, Mich., who finished in 17:13.4. Katelynn Hart of Glen Ellyn, Ill., was second in 17:17.1.
For Theis, the Division 2 Michigan state champion who will run for Michigan next fall, there easily could have been a different outcome.
“In the first straightaway, a girl tripped on some uneven ground in front of me and almost fell down – and I would have gone down, too,” Theis said. “But she caught herself, so I’m happy for that.”