West Aurora's Cross claims Fox Valley Male Athlete of the Year

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 6/10/2017 10:45 PM
  • West Aurora's DaVion Cross is the Fox Valley Male Athlete of the Year.

      West Aurora's DaVion Cross is the Fox Valley Male Athlete of the Year. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • West Aurora's DaVion Cross is the Fox Valley Male Athlete of the Year.

      West Aurora's DaVion Cross is the Fox Valley Male Athlete of the Year. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

DaVion Cross is the farthest thing from a sore loser.

"I have tremendous respect for that man," Cross said of Lakes' Cameron Ruiz, who denied the West Aurora senior back-to-back state championships in the triple jump at the boys Class 3A state track and field meet.

"(At the state preliminary) when I got hurt (groin injury), he was asking me, "'What did I need? Am I good?'" Cross said. "He was being there like a teammate."

Ruiz had to set a state record in the triple jump to defeat Cross.

Last fall, Cross was beyond instrumental to leading the West Aurora football team to its first undefeated season in seven decades. He accounted for 2,080 yards in rushing, receiving, special teams' returns and interceptions in scoring 19 total touchdowns.

The senior also was the point guard on the West Aurora Class 4A Plainfield East regional championship basketball team.

Cross capped his extraordinary career at West Aurora by winning the long jump championship at the state meet in late May.

As a result of his incomparable senior year in football, basketball and track, Cross is the recipient of the Fox Valley Male Athlete of the Year.

"He has to be one of the best athletes in West Aurora history," Eimer said.

Quite a statement, considering the Blackhawks' athletic history dates to the fall of 1892.

Cross averaged an astonishing 15.2 yards per carry in gaining 1,215 yards on a mere 80 attempts in football.

"I am definitely giving the O-line the credit," Cross said of his hard-to-believe numbers. "I couldn't have done it without them."

"Every time he touched the ball, he was dangerous," West Aurora football coach Nate Eimer said.

The Blackhawks' football season featured a first-round matchup against traditional state power Maine South. A botched center-quarterback snap on the Maine South 1-yard line in the waning minutes cost the Blackhawks dearly in a 42-40 loss.

Maine South ultimately won the state championship.

"I was a little sad on the inside," Cross said of the loss in which he had a career-high 202 yards rushing on only 16 attempts. "I am glad to see that they won."

In an era in which specialization has been decried by high school coaches, Cross is a true exception. He played three sports all four years of his career.

"There was no doubt I was going to be a three-sport athlete," Cross said of entering high school. "I couldn't come to an off-season and not do anything."

West Aurora has a legacy in the sport of track and field like few schools in the area.

Cross personally scored 18 points at the state meet with his state championship in the long jump at 23 feet, 11.25 inches and his third straight runner-up in the triple jump at 49-0.

The Blackhawks, behind Cross and two-time reigning high-jump champion Camron Donatlan, finished fifth and fourth in the state the last two years.

"I think this has to be one of the best groups to come through West High," West Aurora track coach Cortney Lamb said. "(Cross) always wants to win. He improved about two feet (in the long jump) in the last two or three weeks of the season. He is a student of the triple jump. (His state championship) is a testament to hard work and the commitment to his craft."

"For him to win the long jump state championship was huge," Eimer said. "It goes to his work ethic."

Cross is also a fighter.

He did not make his basketball debut until facing the Blackhawks' archrival, East Aurora, in late January.

"I broke both my hands," Cross said of his late arrival.

But Cross was instrumental to West Aurora winning its first Upstate Eight Valley championship since leaving the DuPage Valley Conference in 2014.

"He was a big boost for us," West Aurora basketball coach Brian Johnson said. "He was a big part of our team. What he brought to the table for us was memorable."

Cross is synonymously linked to his twin brother, DaQuan, who also played the same three sports.

"Both of them made all the (West Aurora) coaches happy," Johnson said. "They were so talented. They are good kids."

Cross has a lasting memory of his three-sport career at West Aurora.

"All the journeys, all the friends and the coaches -- it was a pleasure," Cross said.

Cross and his twin will attend Independence Junior College in Kansas next fall to play football.

Cross' track career is also on the horizon.

"They don't have a track," Cross said of his JUCO destination. "But once I graduate to go to a D-I school, I will be back."

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