Boys Cross Country: St Ignatius’ Jack Keenan claims Niles West Sectional; Lane qualifies

Story Image Skokie Saturday 10-27-12
St. Ignatius's #257 Jack Keelan wins the boy's cross country sectional race at Niles West HS in Skokie Saturday afternoon 10-27-12. | Kevin Tanaka for~Sun-Tiimes Media.
Story Image

Updated: October 28, 2012 12:54AM

Things went from bad to worse to very good for Marcelo Burbano and his Lane boys cross country teammates on Saturday.

First off, Burbano had a rough final two miles in the Class 3A Niles West Sectional, where the Indians were trying to earn their second straight trip to state.

“The first mile felt so easy and then I don’t know what happened to me,” Burbano said. “My eyes started twitching, my head started getting cold and my body failed on me.”

For all that, Burbano still managed to finish 12th in 15 minutes, 39.39 seconds. But when the results were initially posted, Lane was in sixth, one place away from qualifying. Then, however, Lane coaches noticed David Schmieg, their fourth runner, wasn’t listed among the finishers, apparently because the timing chip in his shoe didn’t register.

Meet officials reviewed video of the finish and determined Schmieg finished 44th, moving Lane from sixth to fourth and bumping St. Ignatius out of a team qualifying spot.

York, ranked No. 1 in 3A by the IlPrepHarrier website, put four runners in the top five behind champ Jack Keelan of St. Ignatius and beat No. 10 Maine South 29-70 for the team title. No. 20 New Trier (119), unranked Lane (165) and No. 24 Glenbard West (168) also advanced to the 3A final next Saturday at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.

The drama was deja vu for Lane, which sweated out another close finish before nabbing the fifth and final qualifying state spot a year ago.

“It was crazy,” Burbano said. “I never thought anything would be as hectic and blood-pumping as last year.”

Lane graduated four of its seven state-meet runners, leaving Burbano and the other veterans wondering whether another trip downstate was in the cards.

“At the start of summer conditioning, we didn’t know if we’d be able to accomplish it,” Burbano said. “We had a completely fresh, new team, a bunch of guys who had never done this before.

“We just did the miles, bonded together as a team, became more like family than friends [and] we made it.”

So did Keelan, who ran a 14:44.86 after taking the ACT at Niles West earlier in the day. He beat runner-up Scott Milling of York (14:53.83) by just under nine seconds.

“The goal [was] different from last year, really putting the emphasis on sectional and beyond,” Keelan said. “I still gave it everything I had for each race. But the training was geared toward later. And I’m listening to my body more, where if I’m feeling tired, take a day off [and] don’t push through it. That’s really paid off so far.”

Whatever York is doing is also paying off. Milling was followed through the chute by teammates Chris May (15:14.68) Alex Mimlitz (15:15.17) and Kyle Mattes (15.16.53) in third through fifth. Alex Bashqawi (15th, 15:45.01) was the Dukes’ fifth finisher, just 51 seconds back of Milling.

Also in the top 10 were Maine South’s Jon Vaccaro (sixth, 15:17.74), New Trier’s Ethan Kaplan (seventh, 15:25.79), Lake Park’s Dakota Morales (eighth, 15:26.49), Niles North’s Micah Beller (ninth, 15:27.81) and Maine South’s Kevin Dolan (15:35.02).

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