One of the marks of a great team is when runners are willing to make sacrifices for each other and step into new roles when their team needs it most.
That's what the Union Catholic boys 4xmile relay crew did on Saturday night when some line up juggling and some gutsy performances added up to a national title that came in heart-stopping fashion at the New Balance National Championships in Boston.
UC won the race in 17:34.17, just ahead of Marlington of Ohio, second in 17:34.29.
With star distance runner Jimmy Wischusen battling illness, Union Catholic coach Mike McCabe scratched from Friday's distance medley relay, and instead decided to loaded up the 4xmile.
With Wischusen still not close to 100 percent, McCabe switched Wischusen from the anchor spot to the second leg, put Ryan Cichocki on the anchor for the first time in his career, and inserted Sean Wilson into the lineup. It worked out perfectly.
After senior Caudell Cajuste led off with a 4:28.13 for UC, Wischusen, a junior, spilled everything he had in his tank team to UC from sixth to first with a 4:23.44 carry. Wilson, a junior who was running on the big stage for the first time, split 4:25.12 and made a big move over the final lap of his leg to regain the lead for the Vikings, giving the baton to Cichocki with about a three-meter lead.
Chicocki, who split a big PR of 4:17.49, ran a gutsy anchor for UC, digging down deep over the final 100 meters to outkick the hard-charging anchor from Marlington.