After a solid second-place showing at last Monday’s Marist Regional, Shepard fell short of its goal of qualifying its entire team for this weekend’s Class 3A state meet in Peoria.
The Astros had to settle for 10th at Saturday’s Hinsdale Central Sectional, but there was one bright spot for Shepard. Senior Josh Maier will race at Detweiller Park as an individual after taking sixth at Hinsdale with a time of 14 minutes, 49 seconds, which was just 13 seconds behind meet champion Zack Smith of Downers Grove North.
Maier posted the fastest clocking of any area competitor. Closest to him were the Sandburg duo of Tom Brennan (15:02) and Will Becker (15:08), the latter of whom had edged Maier out by two seconds for the regional title.
“We were in the toughest sectional in the state,” Astros coach Troy Walker said. “Five teams in our sectional were ranked in the top 11 in the state.
“Our goal was to get in the top 10, and we haven’t been ranked in the top 10 in our sectional. And we ran exceptional and finished 10th.
“Meanwhile, Josh totally ran out of his mind and had an exceptional day individually. He beat a lot of kids he had never beaten before, including the Sandburg kids. He has a chance to be all-state this year, so we’re hoping he can run well this weekend. Josh was a huge high point for us.”
Walker said Maier’s performance was right on pace with projections.
“The way Josh had been running all year, he had a good chance of finishing between sixth and ninth — and the sixth place was just great,” Walker said.
Maier had also been dialed in at Marist.
“Josh ran an incredible race at regionals, too,” Walker said. “Will Becker is a great runner, and he finished just two point behind him. Josh finished eight seconds ahead of [Sandburg’s] Dan Laskero and 12 second ahead of [Brother Rice’s] James Durkin.”
Maier completed the regional race in 15:18, which helped the Astros wind up with 70 points. Other Shepard scorers were senior Mike Evancich (11th in 16:03), freshman Caleb Washington (12th, 16:04), senior Nick Heidinger (16th, 16:15) and junior Andrew Miller (29th, 16:44). Senior Khahari Cook (32nd at 16:53), and freshman Paul Milkus (40th at 17:13) also represented the Astros.
“We were very happy with the second place at Marist,” Walker said. “We knew Sandburg was a little out of our league. They’re a very deep and strong program, with kids who have been running cross country since sixth grade.
“Our main goal was to beat Oak Lawn, Brother Rice and Marist, and we did that. We were real pleased with the result. It wasn’t our highest scoring regional, but we were still happy because everybody ran extremely well.”
Sandburg finished fourth at the Hinsdale Central Sectional with 120 points, continuing the momentum it had gained from victories at the Class 3A Marist Regional and SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue meets.
The Eagles’ top five sectional finishers were Brennan (12th in 15:02.54), Will Becker (17th, 15:08.77), Greg Burzinski (27th, 15:14.80), Harry Becker (30th, 15:19.59) and Sean Torpy (34th, 15:29.47). Will Becker had paced Sandburg — and the entire field, in fact — at Marist with a 15:16 clocking, which was 10 seconds faster than Laskero, who took third.
The Eagles’ depth was displayed in the regional, as they were the top team despite using an almost completely different lineup than they did in either the conference or sectional meets. The other point producers at Marist were freshman Martin Skucas (fifth, 15:41), senior Justin Adams (sixth, 15:43) and junior Matt Benz-Weeden (seventh, 15:45). Two other runners, Matt Hetzler and Max Lehnardt, wound up among the first 13 finishers, and neither athlete required more than 16:09 to complete the three-mile distance.
Stagg placed sixth at the Marist Regional, as Terry Gruns’ 25th-place effort and 16:39 time were the Chargers’ individual bests. Dominic Singer (35th, 17:02), Malek Mukahhal (37th, 17:05), Alfonso Sahagun (38th, 17:08) and Noah Price (41st, 17:14) completed Stagg’s scoring.
Also competing for the Chargers were Preston Caydler (44th, 17:20) and Ridhey Chatha (45th, 17:20).
GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY
Sandburg finished ninth at Saturday’s Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional. The Lady Eagles had advanced as a team to the sectional after taking second at the Marist Regional.
Sophomore Grace Foley will represent Sandburg as an individual at Saturday’s Class 3A state meet in Peoria after reaching the chute in 13th place with a time of 18:06.10.
The Lady Eagles were runner-up to host Marist by two points in the regional. Casey Jensen (third, 18:27), Foley (fourth, 18:31), Meghan Mokate (fifth, 18:38), Annie Lebert (eighth, 18:58) and Jade Lukas (13th, 19:35) were Sandburg’s scorers. Also landing in the top 25 were Francesca Strolia (14th, 19:36) and Amber Boyce (22nd, 20:23).
Shepard finished fourth at the Marist Regional behind senior Alondra Delfin’s top-10 performance. Her 18:57 clocking was good for the seventh spot overall. The Lady Astros’ next three finishers ran in a pack, as senior Amy Miller was 18th (20:04), senior Jackie Navarrete 21st (20:10) and sophomore Sara Campione 24th (20:32).
Also delivering points for Shepard was junior Amber Pierce (39th, 21:50). Rounding out the Lady Astros’ list of competitors were junior Jessica Bomberry (41st, 21:52) and sophomore Markayla Rodgers (43rd, 22:09).
Junior Nisreen Eljabawe’s 27th-place showing led Stagg to sixth in the team standings at the Marist Regional. Eljabawe completed her race in 20:44. Others who scored for the Lady Chargers were Eileen McGowan (32nd, 21:30), Jazmin Castanon (35th, 21:35), Ada Kanapskyte (38th, 21:48) and Jessica Sarna (44th, 22:22).
Adela Zarebczan (45th, 22:25) and Hannah Lustig (46th, 22:32) also participated for Stagg.
Chicago Christian placed 11th at Saturday’s Class 1A Lisle Sectional, held at Community Park.
Sandburg, behind two goals from freshman Marty Manzke, defeated Thornton 2-1 in two overtimes on Friday to capture the Class 3A Andrew Sectional in Tinley Park.
Manzke, whose only previous goal was during the Eagles’ sectional-semifinal victory over Lincoln-Way East, produced the match-winner with 4:57 left in the second overtime. He sneaked behind the Thornton defense and then converted a long pass from Thomas Nie into the deciding marker.
Manzke got Sandburg on the board with 14:52 left in regulation, grabbing a rebound off a corner kick and beating Thornton goalie Eduardo Vargas.
The Eagles (17-6), who are seeking to make their second straight state appearance, met Edwardsville (18-2-3) in this past Tuesday’s Normal Supersectional. Three of Sandburg’s four postseason wins to date have come in overtime.
In the Eagles’ 2-1 semifinal triumph over Lincoln-Way East, Manzke broke a scoreless tie two minutes into the second half when he found the net with a header after receiving a pass from Michael Moore. Przemyslaw Tylka added a goal from 25 yards out 13 minutes later, and Sandburg controlled the pace after that to pocket the win.
Oak Lawn won Saturday’s South Suburban Conference Red meet Saturday at Shepard, scoring 247 points to runner-up Richards’ 228. Reavis (217) took third and the Lady Astros (204) placed fourth.
Annie Rangel was Shepard’s key performer as she touched out first in the 200-yard freestyle (2:10.61) and was second in the 100-butterfly (1:06.88). Also swimming well for the hosts was Becca Gleich, who was third individually in the 500-free (6:12.20) and part of the Lady Astros’ third-place 400-free relay foursome, which clocked a 4:09.05.