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Boys Cross Country: Front-runner status for Illiana Christian

IllianChristian's Tony Wondaal. | File photo

Illiana Christian's Tony Wondaal. | File photo

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Boys Cross
Country 2013

TOP TEAMS

1. Illiana Christian: Vikings confident they can return from the Class 2A state meet in November with a trophy, hopefully the championship. With the top six runners back from the sixth-place team in 2012, state hardware is within reach.

2. Sandburg: Depth is key. Will Becker, the top returnee, will be joined by Greg Burzinski, Denis O’Callaghan, Harry Becker, Sean Torpy, Tom Brennan, Chris Torpy, Justin Adams, Dan Laskero and Matt Hetzler.

3. Lincoln-Way Central: Good potential with just one runner graduated from a state-qualifying squad. Senior Chris Kaminski leads a group that includes Joey Nelson, Tommy Kolacki, Kevin Fabian, Ben Zibricky, Andrew Robbins and Ian Peterson.

4. Shepard: Coming off best season ever with seniors Josh Maier and Mike Evancich back from regional championship team. Nick Heidinger, Khahari Cook and Nick Zuiker likely to be among the top five.

5. Lockport: Looking to improve on last year, Porters can count on senior leader Will Giroux, who was third in the 2012 SouthWest Suburban Blue meet and a state qualifier.

TOP INDIVIDUALS

(in alphabetical order)

Matt Anyiwo, H-F, Sr.; Will Becker, Sandburg, Sr.; Tom Brennan, Sandburg, Soph.; Colin DeYoung, Illiana Christian, Soph.; James Durkin, Brother Rice, Sr.; Nick Fiene, Illiana Christian, Jr.; Will Giroux, Lockport, Sr.; Chris Kaminski, Lincoln-Way Central, Sr.; Tommy Kolacki, Lincoln-Way Central, Jr.; Khalil Lightbourne, Thornwood, Sr.; Josh Maier, Shepard, Sr.; Joey Nelson, Lincoln-Way Central, Sr.; Dan O’Keefe, Mount Carmel, Sr.; Nick Wondaal, Illiana Christian, Soph.; Tony Wondaal, Illiana Christian, Sr.

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Updated: September 29, 2013 6:45AM



With the first six runners back from a top 10 state meet team, including an All-Stater and three more under 15 minutes, 30 seconds, Illiana Christian should be the team to chase in Class 2A this season.

No one knows that better than Illiana’s No. 1 runner, senior Tony Wondaal.

“The guys know they’ve got a target on their backs,’’ Wondaal said. “We’ve just got to work hard this fall and try to live up to everyone’s expectations.’’

Finishing among the top three teams and coming back from Peoria with a trophy, possibly even the state championship, will be on everyone’s minds as the Vikings move through the season.

Illiana Christian placed sixth in the 2A state meet last year behind Jones, Belvidere North, Yorkville, Crystal Lake Central and Glenbard South.

“Most of the other top five schools lost three or four of their top runners,’’ Illiana Christian coach Jim Piaskowy said. “We can’t surprise anybody. Our kids have the experience and maturity to handle the pressure. They’re fans of the sport. They know the sport.’’

The Vikings’ pack starts with All-Stater Wondaal, who finished 13th in the 2A race last year in 14:50, the best time by a returning Southland runner in any class.

“He’s a gamer,’’ Piaskowy said. “When you need him, he produces. The kids look up to him. They want to do the same.’’

Junior Nick Fiene (38th last year in 15:19) and sophomores Colin DeYoung (49th, 15:22) and Nick Wondaal (50th, 15:23), Tony’s brother, were the underclassmen who came through last season.

“Last year, when we got the two freshmen and they broke into the varsity and were improving in leaps and bounds we knew we had potentially five guys who could take us to state and be in the top three,’’ Piaskowy said.

Senior Kevin Vroegh (97th, 15:49) is the fifth returnee from the group that scored at last year’s state meet. Senior Austin Gibson (118th) and junior Tom McGuire complete a strong top seven for Illiana.

“This is probably the most talented team I’ve ever coached,’’ said the 60-year-old Piaskowy, who’s starting his 10th season at Illiana. “They have a lot of natural ability and they have the motivation.

“If you have an average kid and they work real hard, they’re good. But when you get a talented kid who’s motivated and wants to work hard, those are the great runners.’’

Illiana Christian’s best state showing was fifth place in 2007. The Vikings finished three points behind third-place Belvidere North.

“We have all the ingredients of a team that could bring home a trophy,’’ Piaskowy said.

“It’s a long time until then,’’ Tony Wondaal said. “It looks like we have a shot.’’



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