Fenwick High School boys cross-country junior Grayden Rill has some big footsteps to follow. His father, David, an accomplished runner who earned All-State status as a Friar in 1986 and 1987, has an upclose view of how Grayden is doing as his head coach.

But Grayden says his dad doesn’t show any favoritism at school.

“At practice, I’m treated just like one of the guys on the team,” he said. “At home, it’s a different experience.”

Rill entered this fall following an impressive sophomore campaign. He placed fifth in the IHSA Class 2A Wheaton St. Francis sectional and would have qualified for the state finals had they not been canceled by the pandemic. In the spring he merited All-State honors in track and field, thanks to his fourth-place finish in the 800-meter race, during which he set a new Fenwick frosh-soph record time of 1:57.80.

Ask him about his accomplishments and he says, “I haven’t really thought about that.” He did say he’s tries to maintain a consistent approach and credited teammates like Zach Daley and Lee O’Bryan for pushing and encouraging him in practices.

The Friars are off to a good start this year, and Rill believes it’s due to the tight bond the team has established. 

“We’re having a lot of fun,” he said.

One way Rill relaxes when he’s not competing or studying is playing acoustic and electric guitars, which he’s been playing for a few years. 

As Fenwick gears up for the second half of the season, Rill, who is drawing interest from several schools, says, “Our big thing this year is that we’re going to have fun in every race and practice and see where that gets us,” he said. “We’re going to work our hardest. I just want to get in the front pack of every race and see how long I can stick with those guys. As long as I run my own race, that’s good enough for me.”

And what about breaking his father’s school records?

“They’re fast, but I’ll try,” said Rill.

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