High School Sports Notes
Boys Cross Country
Oak Lawn junior Nick Minnella is emerging as a runner to keep an eye on in the Southland.
Minnella finished second Saturday in the 18-team large school division of the Tinley Park Invitational at Midlothian Meadows.
Minnella covered the course in 15 minutes, 39 seconds, behind Joliet Central’s Salvador Lazaro (15:33) and ahead of H-F’s Matt Anyiwo (15:41), both Class 3A state qualifiers last year.
“This year I’ve started going faster, sort of accelerating after the first mile,’’ he said.
Minnella, a sectional qualifier in 2012 from the Sandburg Regional, knows the next step is downstate.
“That’s definitely a goal,’’ he said. “I just want to get a time for myself and try to make it good enough to get to state.’’
Next for Oak Lawn is the Lockport Invitational on Saturday at Dellwood Park.
The top five teams there last year —L yons, Neuqua Valley, Hinsdale Central, Plainfield South and Naperville North — finished among the top 12 at the state final.
Girls Cross Country
A Class 3A state qualifier the past two seasons, Lincoln-Way East is solidifying its lineup with a sophomore and a junior leading the way.
Alyssa Vogt, who missed her freshman season last year because of a stress fracture, and Kristy Dertz, East’s top returnee from the state meet, led the Griffins to second place Saturday in the 16-team large school race at the Tinley Park Invitational.
Vogt placed fifth overall in 19 minutes, 20 seconds.
“She’s finding how to race in cross country,’’ East coach Wendy Hegarty. “She’s less afraid to go out and run hard for three miles.’’
On Dertz, Hegarty said: “She’s finally saying, ‘I’m varsity. This is where I am as a junior.’ Run hard as a freshman to sophomore, take a step up. She’s found her competitive spirit.’’
Anna Conboy and sisters Abby and Erin Couwenhoven were East’s 3-4-5 runners in the Tinley Park meet.
Next for the Griffins is a flight invitational Saturday at Wheaton North.
Can Richards repeat as the South Suburban Red tournament champ?
The Bulldogs topped Evergreen Park in the Southland’s closest conference race last season, taking a one-stroke victory for their third championship in four years.
Four-year varsity starter Matt Kendryna has consistently led the scoreboard this season, averaging a 39.5 over nine holes.
“(Matt) has always been one of our top two golfers,” Richards coach Tim Tesauro said. “He’s a great kid who has really improved every season.”
Richards will need Kendryna in top form if they hope to dispatch the competition Monday at Cog Hill.
“It will be tight, though, as Evergreen Park and Shepard are having great seasons with some great players in their program,” Tesauro said.
Another player to watch is Eisenhower’s Vinny Curta, who finished third individually at the tournament last season.
Stagg reigned supreme two out of the last three years in the SouthWest Suburban Red conference, but a realignment now has the Chargers in the SWSC Blue in a swap with Lincoln-Way East.
“Both of our divisions in the conference are very competitive,” Stagg coach Marcea Reuther said, noting the Chargers will host the Blue tournament Oct. 4 at Silver Lakes.
Natalie Collina finished seventh in the Red division for Stagg last season and now is the team’s No. 1 player.
Collina should be in contention for another conference medal.
“(Natalie) is a hard worker and has really been working on her game,” Reuther said. “Not only has she worked on improving her swing, she has been a great role model and leader for the team.”
Sandburg, led by Frankie Saban, is the front runner for the SWSC Blue crown. Kelly Sterling and Lincoln-Way East should vie for top honors in the Red division.