Return to glory
Woodstock High School Athletic Hall of Fame member returns to location where he saw glory
On Nov. 3, 1972, Tony Magdeleno finished seventh in the state cross country meet with a time of 14 minutes, 32 seconds. At the time, he was the second-ranked sophomore in the nation. With the assistance of his former Woodstock High School teammates, Magdeleno returned to Detweiller Park, Peoria, Nov. 6, 2010, to celebrate the past and the future.
Magdeleno’s ’72 teammates flew him to Peoria from his home in Arizona so he could watch WHS’s success at the state meet. They included Phil and Bob Wertz, Bruce Farris, Tim Ward and Dave Judson. Mike Wertz and Keith Huff were unable to attend.
“Tony is a great guy. We wanted to bring him back to Detweiller,” said Phil Wertz. “He’s such a fabulous spirit. His most vivid memories of his life all revolve around running. It’s exciting. A large part of the team got together to celebrate.”
Magdeleno was picked to win state his senior year but injured himself in the district tournament. He received a full-ride scholarship to Eastern Illinois University. On April 9, 1976, Magdeleno rolled his car and has been a quadriplegic since.
Current Woodstock North High School head cross country coach Bruce Farris remembers the first time he met Magdeleno.
“I was in a group of distance runners in early track season practice, running on the streets around Woodstock High School,” said Farris. “We ran by Tony and words were exchanged for some reason. As was usual in those times a fight followed after neither one of us backed down. I couldn’t believe this skinny eighth-grader wanted to fight. The fight did not last long, but I remember he was one of the scrappiest kids I ever tangled with.”
Magdeleno returned this past summer for his 35th high school anniversary. While in Woodstock, he was able to work with several of the current cross country runners.
“It was exciting to work with these kids,” said Magdeleno. “I connected with Sergio [Rodriquez] and Nancy [Julio]. I am very proud of them.”
He was extremely impressed with the 2010 WHS team.
“It was outstanding,” said Magdeleno. “The Woodstock squad was phenomenal. It was if the ’72 team handed off the torch, and this team completed the journey.”
Magdeleno also met up with Sherry Farr, his seventh-grade girlfriend, and they instantly connected after 38 years.
“As soon as we made eye contact, we had an instant connection,” said Magdeleno. “I can’t tell in words what it’s like meet up with a childhood lost love.”
Magdeleno was recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma but that doesn’t affect his spirit.
“Doctors tell me they have never met a quad who has lived this long,” said Magdeleno. “I’m going to stay positive.”
Farris is glad to call Magdeleno friend.
“Tony has always been such a positive influence,” said Farris. “We are all much better off having the opportunity of his friendship.”