As leaders on Hinsdale Central’s cross country team, Kevin Huang and Billy Magnesen haven’t gotten caught up in early-season success. Huang ran a 5K in 15 minutes, 53 seconds to take second place in the Locktoberfest Invitational on Oct. 5, while Magnesen placed second at the First to the Finish Invitational with a three-mile time of 14 minutes, 36 seconds on Sept. 14.
“They demonstrate incredible commitment and resolve both in and out of the classroom,” head coach Jim Westphal said. “More importantly, they are terrific teammates. They take the time to reach out to the younger athletes and model consistent, positive behaviors. They are very approachable to peers and teammates alike.”
Names: Kevin Huang and Billy Magnesen
Age/year in school: 17/Senior (Huang); 18/Senior (Magnesen)
Hometown: Willowbrook (Huang); Hinsdale (Magnesen)
Sport: Cross Country
How long have you run cross country?
Huang: This is my 3rd year.
Magnesen: Since sophomore year. I ran a little in middle school but I considered myself a soccer player until my freshman track season.
What do you love most about cross country?
Huang: The camaraderie. There’s a special bond you form with your teammates from struggling through and finishing hard workouts together that you can’t get anywhere else. The guys on the team are some of my closest friends.
Magnesen: What you put into it is what you’ll get out. If you’re not willing to put in the effort and time for the sport, then it won’t be kind to you. But if you invest fully and decide to embrace it, the sport will reward you with improvement and a feeling of accomplishment.
What are your goals for this season? How will you achieve them?
Huang: For our team to win state this year. Individually, I’d like to be top 10 in state. We’ve worked incredibly hard, not just from this season but stretching all the way back to the beginning of summer.
Magnesen: To earn a trophy at the state meet on November 9th, preferably the one with the “1” on it. Everything else will just be a part of the process.
What is your biggest challenge this season?
Huang: Staying humble and not getting too caught up with our success so far this season. Past results don’t matter at state. It’s just how you perform on that day.
Magnesen: I had an excellent start to the season, but after our dual meet with LT, I hurt my knee. It’s been frustrating to not be able to run with the team for a little while, but I’m back to running now, and should be good to go for the rest of the season.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions when you run?
Huang: We just try to stick to a routine. Warm up 40 minutes before the race starts for two miles. Put on spikes. Stretch. Do six strides. And then race.
Magnesen: I only drink yellow Gatorade on race day. The other flavors just don’t get it done like lemon-lime does.
Who has inspired you most in your athletic endeavors?
Huang: Ted Owens, who graduated two years ago. He really had a breakthrough during his senior track season and became our best 800m runner on the relay. He had such a great work ethic, and he put the team on his back most notably during sectionals when he outkicked a DGS runner in order to qualify for state.
Magnesen: My grandfather. He was a runner back in his days at Austin High School. He’s 82 and still runs every now and then, and his unwillingness to give in to his age has always made me admire his work ethic.
What is your favorite sports memory?
Huang: Definitely at the Hornet Red this year. Though I myself didn’t have a great race, I felt like I was on top of the world when my coach announced that we won. We knew that the hard work we put in all summer had finally paid off, and that we put ourselves on the radar as one of the best teams in the state.
Magnesen: During the Hornet-Red Devil Invite, we went in as the No. 7 team in state, and we were running against three teams rated higher than us. We ran tough, and came away with the win, which resulted in us ultimately moving up to No. 1 in state for a week. Ever since we’ve been moved down to No. 2, we’ve been urging to prove that we’re the best team in Illinois.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Huang: Walter Payton. Not only was he one of the best running backs in history, but also one of the most charitable. He decided not to take an offer to skip in front of the liver transplant line resulting in his death and appeared in many commercials asking others to donate organs. He was an incredible fighter and he has inspired me to become a better athlete and also a better person.
Magnesen: Russell Wilson, QB for the Seattle Seahawks. He was a player that was overlooked and underestimated because he was “too small” to be an NFL quarterback, but he didn’t let that affect him. He was drafted after several other quarterbacks in the draft, then had to earn his job on the Seahawks, but eventually led them to a playoff appearance and nearly the Super Bowl.
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside cross country?
Huang: I love to play Frisbee, relax with my teammates and I also play violin.
Magnesen: I’m a huge sports fan, everything from soccer to baseball to running, both college and pro.
Favorite quote or words to live by:
Huang: “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt
Magnesen: “Every day when I came into work all I wanted to do was leave. So why does it feel so hard to leave right now?” –Darryl Philbin, “The Office.”
This comes from the final episode of my favorite show. Darryl says this because he can’t get himself to leave on the final day of work despite wanting to leave as early as possible every day. Usually, I can’t wait for every workout and run to be over, and all I want to do is stop running and go home. But I know when this season is over, all I’ll want to do is go back to those workouts and runs and remember this season and this team.
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