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Cross Country: Illiana Christian’s Beezhold wins with one shoe

Shepard's Josh Maier runs toward first-place finish small school race Tinley Park Invitational. |  Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media

Shepard's Josh Maier runs toward a first-place finish in the small school race of the Tinley Park Invitational. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 28, 2013 3:20AM



Illiana Christian’s Alexa Beezhold overcame an unforeseen challenge Saturday running in the Tinley Park Invitational.

“I think it went really well for me, especially since I lost my left shoe right before the first mile,’’ she said. “When I was in the forest it was a little rough.’’

Beezhold still went on to win the individual race in 18 minutes, 56 seconds to lead Illiana Christian to the small school Olympic Division title at Midlothian Meadows.

“I was fourth until the mile and then I went ahead,’’ the 2012 All-State runner said. “I could hear the girl behind me, so I had to keep telling myself to keep going. Sometimes when I get ahead I tend to slow down.’’

Lemont’s Taylor Campos (19:03) and Gabby Voltarrel (19:15) were second and third, respectively.

Shoes have been an issue lately for Beezhold, who said one came untied in her previous meet.

“I need to learn how to tie my shoes,’’ she said with a laugh.

Illiana’s top five were Beezhold, Alex Clausing (6th), Brittany Groen (7th), Monica Smits (8th) and Holly Schoon (21st). Emma Pawlowski, Illiana’s No. 2 runner, was sick and didn’t race.

The top three in the 15-team race were Illiana Christian (43), Lemont (43) and Shepard (80). The tie for first was broken by Rachel Smits, Illiana’s sixth runner who finished 24th.

In the large school Championship Division, Marist’s Maryclare Leonard ran 18:30 to win the individual title and lead the RedHawks (45) to the championship. Lincoln-Way East (64) took second and Providence (113) was third in the 16-team race.

“I was really nervous because she was really what pushed me in the other races,’’ Maryclare said of running without her sister, Annmarie, who didn’t race Saturday. “I was nervous I wouldn’t do as well. But she was cheering me on, so she kept me moving.’’

Marist’s top five were Leonard, Catherine Viz (4th), Julie Yaeger (6th), Andrea Burnham (12th) and Shannon O’Loughlin (22nd).

“I wanted to push the pack, but not push too fast,’’ Maryclare Leonard said. “Once I got in the woods, I kind of felt I could move more.’’

Lincoln-Way North’s Abby Casey (18:50) and Carly Marshall (18:58), were second and third, respectively.

In the boys meets, Shepard’s Josh Maier won the small school Olympic race in 15:39 without much of a challenge.

“The first quarter-mile or so I took the lead,’’ Maier said. “The rest of the way I was on my own. It was tough. It’s way worse than running with people.’’

Shepard (29) won the team title ahead of Richards (82) and Tinley Park (97) in the 11-school field. The Astros’ top five were Maier, Nick Heidinger (2nd), Mike Evancich (6th), Caleb Washington (7th) and Andrew Miller (13th).

In the large school Championship Division, Oak Lawn’s Nick Minnella was second in 15:39 to Joliet Central’s Salvador Lazaro (15:33). H-F’s Matt Anyiwo was third (15:41). Both Lazaro and Anyiwo are returning state qualifiers.



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