Porter Baginski was absolutely cruising.
The Sutherland Elementary School eighth-grader was well on his way to winning the Chicago City State Meet, and then he heard his dad, Dan, yelling.
“I ran the wrong way on part of the course because no one had blocked it off,” Baginski said. “I was confused, and my dad called me back. It sounded like he was distressed, so I knew something was up. I turned to come back, so I lost a little time there.”
A slight delay, but nothing too serious for Baginski as the 13-year-old recovered from the detour to win first place on Nov. 7 at the meet at Montrose Harbor.
He ran the 1.5-mile course in 9:03.66.
Sutherland eighth-grader Tommy Beemsterboer finished in 34th place with a time of 10:30.45. The seventh- and eighth-grade race featured 140 runners.
Baginski also won the regional meet in October at Washington Park.
“It felt really good winning the city race,” Baginski said. “All my teammates, my mom and dad, everybody kept encouraging me. I tried as hard as I could, did my best and got good results.”
As for the detour, he more than made up for it, still winning by almost 12 seconds over the second-place finisher.
“I could have done a little faster, maybe 30 seconds faster,” Baginski said. “I definitely thought I’d run in the top 10 coming in.”
Baginski and Beemsterboer have been running for years, also training together when their schedules permit. The duo also ran in the Ridge Run last May.
For Beemsterboer, he’s found his sport.
“I started running in the fourth and fifth grade,” Beemsterboer said. “I just like running. It’s good exercise, and it helps calm you down if you’re angry or anything. It helps me feel more focused.”
Baginski and Beemsterboer will run track in the spring and hope to continue running in high school. Neither student-athlete has decided yet where they will attend high school.
Baginski also plays tennis, but he loves running.
“I can sprint, but I’m more of a long-distance runner,” Baginski said. “I hope to keep running. It’s relaxing, healthy and good for your heart. It’s a natural thing I like to do.”
Beemsterboer echoed those thoughts.
“People say that if you stop running now and don’t run in high school, you won’t feel good about it when you’re older,” Beemsterboer said. “You get more and more used to it. I don’t want to step running. I like running, and it always encourages me.”