Best in the Midwest


Jake Snyder, Contributor to Scratch Paper

Running, to many people, is a punishment of devious proportions. Even with a group of people, running takes some serious mental fortitude to push yourself to your limits and beyond. But to many cross-country athletes, that’s just a way of life. No one knows that better than the star athlete of the Warren boys’ Cross-country team, Luke Wiley. 

But first, let’s clarify some things. On average, a relatively-in-shape runner can run a mile in about 9 to 10 minutes. Think about your mile time from gym; I guarantee you that none of those times, or at least very few of them, were below six minutes.

Not only can Luke run a mile in under 5 minutes, but he can run 3 of them. In a row.

Think about that for a second.    

In case it wasn’t obvious enough, Luke is one of the best runners in the state, being one of the few high school athletes in the state of Illinois with a (3 mile) time of 14:30. The team went to regionals last weekend, on October 30th, and qualified for the state championship, with Wiley winning the Sectional Meet individually.

What truly makes Luke an elite athlete, though, is that he is humble about his skill. He doesn’t gloat, mock, or boast about how talented he is, how hard he grinds to achieve his goals; goals that led him run in meets all across the state, and across the country and goals that are leading the team to being a formidable force at the state meet in Peoria. 

During the season, Wiley runs an average of about 60-65 miles per week, enough to train for a marathon and more. But through all that, he says that the key to staying healthy is stretching out after every run. On top of that, food isn’t really a major factor: “I try to be conscious of the food I put into my body, but I try to also not be too strict with what I can and can’t eat”

On top of being a star athlete, Wiley is an outstanding student and has a thriving social life. Who says you can’t do both? When asked about balancing his academics with athletics, he responded in good humor: “Balancing school and athletics is definitely very tough. I’ve found that getting ahead of things during the weekend helps a lot, and I just try to stay on top of all of my work and take advantage of the time I have in school.”

Yeah, I wish I had those time management skills.

The 2021 cross-country team truly has the chance to be something special. Coach Heimstead, in his inaugural year coaching the boys’ team, has the chance to take them to state. Heimstead noted that “The boys have set the tangible expectations of qualifying for state . . .[They] need to dial in on nutrition, sleep, hydration, and recovery. Everything that they choose to do daily influences how they perform. Making sure they control what they can and staying positive throughout the process is key.”

Wiley said something similar when he was asked about running a tough workout: “When I’m out alone in a workout or a race, I try to just think positive. It sounds simple, but it makes a big difference when you’re hurting and trying to push through.” I, myself, having been on the team, know that you can ask any athlete about how far ahead Luke is when he does a workout or a race on almost all occasions. When asked about his training, Heimstead revealed that  “[Luke’s] workouts have been centered on end-of-season development to be at his best in the championship season by completing long tempo runs, rapid mile repeats, and fast speed days”

Additionally, Heimstead mentioned that “[his] coaching philosophy has always been centered on hard work, accountability, and team” and that “the boys have been great in those aspects of this season, and [Luke’s] level of dedication is outstanding.”

The state meet is this weekend, down in Peoria; Wiley will have the rest of the talented varsity team with him: David Lara, Cole Kaether, Max Zeisler, Fahim Rafi, Ozzie Bandera, and Nate Garcia.

So, the next logical connection for a D1 commit Runner is, of course, more running; Wiley’s other sport is Track, where he excels in the 2-Mile and Mile events. He noted he loves both seasons “equally”, but loves the team aspects and course variety of cross-country.

Wiley plans to continue his running career at UNC Chapel Hill next fall, where he will run both track and cross-country.