Eagles take seventh in boys’ cross country
In spite of 25-mile-per-hour winds that complicated Saturday’s state cross country meet, Sandburg boys’ coach John O’Malley was very pleased with his team’s seventh-place finish in Class 3A.
The Eagles scored 225 points and posted a cumulative team time of 1 hour, 16 minutes, 46 seconds at Peoria’s Detweiller Park. State champion Hinsdale Central ran a 1:15.01. Occupying the 2-through-6 positions in the team standings were Downers Grove North, O’Fallon, Lyons Township, York and New Trier.
Tom Brennan’s 15:13 clocking topped Sandburg’s individual performances and earned him the 31st spot overall. Will Becker (38th in 15:17) was next down the chute for the Eagles, followed by Greg Burzinski (48th, 15:24), Sean Torpy (53rd, 15:25), Chris Torpy (55th, 15:27), Harry Becker (80th, 15:36) and Dan Laskero (124th, 15:56).
“It was a great effort by the kids,” O’Malley said. “They ran really tough and really together the whole race. That was our key [because] we really didn’t have a guy way up front ahead of the pack, but we had a pack that was tight. I think they all got the most out of the meet.
“I was so happy with the way the kids ran, I didn’t even look to see the scores or where we placed. The result didn’t even seem necessary to me. It was a great way to the end the season.”
O’Malley said the windy conditions obviously made for a different kind of race, but he said he was satisfied with how his kids battled the elements and finished strong.
“The wind threw a wrench in the day, and the scores were pretty much out the window,” O’Malley said. “A lot of kids were flustered, but my kids kept their heads and kept focused.”
O’Malley said Sandburg’s finish surpassed his expectations. Pivotal to that happening was Will Becker’s full recovery from his iliotibial band injury, which sidelined him for the first few weeks of the season.
“Losing our No. 1 runner at the beginning of the season was tough, but thankfully we got him back,” O’Malley said. “We had four sophomores in the top seven and only two that had previous state experience. So we did well, and we also have a good future ahead.”
Shepard senior Josh Maier placed 62nd in the Class 3A meet by completing the three-mile race in 15:31.
GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY
Marist’s Maryclare Leonard produced the top effort among local runners in Peoria, as she was 20th in a 207-person Class 3A field. Leonard, whose sister Ann Marie missed qualifying for state by just four seconds, completed Saturday’s race in 17:26.
Sandburg’s Grace Foley took the 83rd position after timing out in 18:21.
Sandburg’s dream of making a second consecutive trip to the Class 3A finals was dashed by Edwardsville, which defeated the Eagles 2-0 in last Tuesday’s Normal Supersectional.
The Tigers, who entered play with a 12-match winning streak, found themselves locked in a scoreless tie with Sandburg for more than 50 minutes. When Edwardsville finally broke through, it scored twice within a 74-second span and left the Eagles with less than 28 minutes to try to make up the deficit.
All-state forward Brent Heinlein’s converted Josh Kowalis’s crossing pass for the first score, then Andrew Mullican tapped a rebound into an open net. Mullican’s marker came right after Heinlein had fired a shot off the crossbar.
Sandburg nearly cut the lead in half with 11:30 to go when John Manthey got a clean look, but he launched his shot too high. With under four minutes left, Joseph Labriola’s cross on a corner kick found Kyle Kroll, who fired off the post, and then Tom Nie shot high on the rebound.
The Eagles produced the lone shot on goal for either team in the first half, but Edwardsville goalie Brenden Heaton denied Przemyslaw Tylka.
The season-ending loss concluded an amazing playoff run for Sandburg, which won four times by just one goal. Three of the matches required an overtime to settle.