York High School announced the retirement of Cross Country Coach Joe Newton in 2016. It was a bittersweet year. In his 56 years as the York Head Coach, his teams won 28 state championships. It is a number that won't be reached in this cross-country crazy state. The reason the interest is so big is because of what Mr. Newton did at this high school in Elmhurst, Illinois.

I’m always approached by runners and coaches from various schools across the state when I am at meets. The common question that they asked me was: "What was it like to run for Mr. Newton."


I was a member of the York High School Cross Country Team from 1976 to 1979. I was named co-captain of the team in 1979. Not too many guys get that honor. I was fortunate that my teammates thought so highly of me that I was chosen.


In 2013, I decided to write about my junior year of cross country at the school. I wanted to do something different and unique. I was sitting at my desk and looked up at the wall where I started staring at a poster that was created for a team that I was on in 1978. I realized that this fall would be 38 years since my friends and I went on a journey, running together under coach Joe Newton, that took us to the Illinois State Cross Country Meet. After the state meet in 2016, we met at a restaurant in Elmhurst to reminisce. Our gathering felt like we had just left each other after the 1978 season had ended. Those bonds never die...

Links to Chapters of Put Your Hand on Seven


Put Your Hand on Seven - Introduction - 2018

Chapter 1 -  The Road to the Summer of '78

Chapter 2 - Flipping the Switch

Chapter 3 - Finding My Way

Chapter 4 - Summer Running, Had Me A Blast?

Chapter 5 - Camp Olympia Week

Chapter 6 - East End Park and Intra-Squad

Chapter 7 - Lessons

Chapter 8 - First Home Meet

Chapter 9 - Running Scared

Chapter 10 - Coming Out Party

Chapter 11 - You Are Only As Good As Your Next Race

Chapter 12 - The Workout that Started as a Bloodbath

Chapter 13 - There is No Place Like Home

Chapter 14 - Take Two at Proviso

Chapter 15 - A Time for Firsts

Chapter 16 - State Week

Chapter 17 - T minus 24 Hours

Chapter 18 - Fifteen Minutes

Chapter 19 - The Days After 

Chapter 20 - The Years After