Boys Cross Country: Tom Brennan helps Sandburg secure spot in state finalsRunners begin the race during the boys Marist Cross Country Sectional at Midlothian Meadow Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, in Midlothian. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
It didn’t look good Saturday for Sandburg during the early part of the Class 3A Marist Sectional at Midlothian Meadows.
“As a group we were buried, way buried,’’ Sandburg coach John O’Malley said. “I was waiting in the woods about a mile-and-a-half in and I’m saying, ‘Where is our team?’ To their credit, they really rallied back and responded.’’
With only the top five schools advancing to the state meet from the 21-team field, Sandburg (120) recovered in time to grab fourth place behind Lyons (74), Plainfield South (115) and Neuqua Valley (118). Hinsdale Central (160) was fifth.
O’Malley said his team was “a little tentative’’ and would have been “in big trouble” if not for freshman Tom Brennan finishing 30th in his first varsity race.
“He just ran awesome,’’ O’Malley said. “He just ran with guts and ran free. And he’s been sick on top of it, so it was a really gutsy race.’’
Pat McMahon led the Sandburg pack with a fifth-place finish in 15 minutes, 1 second.
“Not exactly the way we wanted to do it, but we’ll take it,’’ McMahon said. “You saw three of the top four individuals aren’t going down with a team. It’s a very strong sectional.’’
The rest of the Sandburg scorers were Pat Letz (18th, 15:19), Chris Hogan (21st, 15:21), Brennan (15:28) and Nicholas Prajka (46th, 15:51).
“We were supposed to go out fast,’’ Letz said. “We didn’t exactly do that to plan, but the entire race we just kept pushing past guys. We know if there’s a giant pack in front of us, we can go get it.’’
“We knew it was going to be a tough race, but I think we fought through it,’’ Hogan said.
Three Southland runners advanced to the state meet as individuals: Marist’s Kyle Hauser (10th, 15:13.3), Lockport’s Will Giroux (11th, 15.13.7) and Shepard’s Abel Hernandez (14th, 15:16.7).
“The group was really tight until about a mile-and-a-half it started to split off,’’ Hauser said. “After that I was really trying to hold on to my spot because I knew I was really close to making it downstate.’’
Class 3A Normal Community Sectional: Runner-up Lincoln-Way Central (81) qualified for the state meet behind Chris Kaminski (15:31) and Dru Rozewicki (15:36), who were seventh and ninth, respectively, on the 3-mile course at Normal’s Maxwell Park. Thornwood put three runners in the state finals in Khalil Lightbourne (15:57), Kenneth Allen (15:58) and Jesse Unzueta (15:59). Homewood-Flossmoor’s Matt Anyiwo (15:39) and Lincoln-Way East’s Luke Johnston (15:59) also will compete on the state level.
Class 2A Peoria Notre Dame Sectional: Lincoln-Way West’s Ryan Kennedy (15:53) advanced to the state meet after finishing 17th in the 2.95-mile race at Illinois Central College in East Peoria.
Class 2A Wheaton Academy Sectional: Illiana Christian (52) qualified for the state finals after placing third behind Yorkville (36) and Glenbard South (52). The Vikings were led by Tony Wondaal (15:10), who finished third in the 3-mile contest at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago. Four area athletes earned state berths on an individual basis, the group consisting of Marian Catholic’s Camren Howard (16:13), Evergreen Park’s Matt Przeslicke (16:22), Bremen’s Jacob Windstrom (16:23) and Lemont’s Aaron Oldanie (16:24).
Class 1A Lisle Sectional: Beecher’s Grant Nykaza (15:49) was the medalist in the 3.1-mile race at Lisle Community Park. As a team, the Bobcats (194) were seventh in the meet won by Richmond-Burton (33).
Contributing: Josh Krockey