Hawks’ depth revives state hopes09/21/10 Tuesday Northfield Maine South's Vaccaro comes to the finish line during the cross country quad meet involving New Trier, Evanston, Maine South and Glenbrook South on Tuesday, Sept. 21st. (Dan Luedert/Staff Photographer)
Updated: August 16, 2011 2:40PM
Zach Eckhart was exhausted Monday after another long workout instituted by Maine South coach Greg Nordahl.
The sting of the team missing out on last year’s state cross country meet for the first time since 2007 has the Hawks hunkered down and hungry for this fall.
“Been a long summer,” the senior said. “We have done higher mileage than we’ve ever done before. We’re also doing them faster. It’s been a pretty good summer.”
Eckhart will be one of the top runners this season, along with junior Jon Vaccaro. The Hawks will need contributions from others and a tight running pack after the graduation of standout Dave Eckhart, now running at Illinois with Maine South graduate Ryan Lynn. Dave Eckhart was a three-time qualifier who finished seventh at the state meet as a senior.
Zach Eckhart’s ready for the challenge.
“Going to be nice for once being one of the top guys,” said Zach Eckhart, who ran with his brother for one season. “I want people to look at my times, and I see that I’m also fast.”
Maine South, ranked 25th by ESPN’s DyeStatIL.com, starts the season Aug. 30 at the District 207 meet against Maine East and Maine West. The other ranked CSL team is New Trier, which is No. 4 in the DyeStat ratings.
“We expected to qualify last year,” said Nordahl, whose 2009 club took 10th at the State Meet. “But we were thin last year and couldn’t afford injuries. Right now, we are not thin. We have a strong core of competitive athletes, and I have an idea we will have a very good season.”
Running with Eckhart and Vaccaro in the top seven could be senior Michal Filipczak, junior Robbie Taylor, junior Kevin Dolan, sophomore Jack Carpenter and sophomore Stephen Lavelle.
Both Eckhart and Vacarro spent a week this summer training at a University of Wisconsin camp.
“They taught us some good racing strategies, and how to work out,” Eckhart said. “They also showed us proper nutrition and good running form. Some of the stuff was new, but Coach Nordahl had taught us most of it already. It was more of a refresher course.”
Filipczak is a wild card, but Nordahl said the senior has fully recovered from a bone chip in his foot. Filipczak took second place in the 800 meters this spring at the state track and field meet.
Carpenter also should see his stock rise after gaining experience as a freshman on the varsity last year.
“He looks great,” Nordahl said. “He’s running up there with that front group.”