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Cross Country: Sandburg boys, Marist girls claim regional titles

Sandburg's Will Becker finishes first Saturday ahead Shepard's Josh Maier Class 3A Marist Regional. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media

Sandburg's Will Becker finishes first Saturday ahead of Shepard's Josh Maier in the Class 3A Marist Regional. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 28, 2013 6:52AM



The nagging knee injury that sidelined Will Becker for most of the season didn’t stop the Sandburg senior Saturday at the Class 3A Marist Regional.

Becker covered the Midlothian Meadows course in 15 minutes, 16.19 seconds to win the individual title and lead a dominant Sandburg group to the team championship in the nine-school field.

“My team stuck with me the whole time I was out, told me I’d get back, told me how good I still am,’’ Becker said.

“I haven’t had the confidence to go out with everyone. That was my goal here, to feed off my team, work with them and get up with the top of the pack.’’

“I saw him finally break through in his mentality more than anything,’’ Sandburg coach John O’Malley said. “This was an opportunity to find that confidence during the race.’’

Sandburg’s depth was obvious with all seven individuals finishing among the top 13, even without running most of the lineup that won the SouthWest Suburban Blue title a week ago.

Sandburg’s top five were Becker, Dan Laskero (3rd, 15:26.62), Martin Skucas (5th, 15:41.77), Justin Adams (6th, 15:43.05) and Matt Benz-Weeden (7th, 15:45.37).

“Our team is incredible,’’ Becker said. “We push each other so much. We don’t worry about individuals.’’

Becker, the top returnee from Sandburg’s 2012 state meet team, had enough to hold off a strong runner-up finish by Shepard’s Josh Maier (15:18.26).

“It was good competition,’’ Maier said. “It gives me a little preview of next week’s sectional.’’

Sandburg (22), Shepard (70), Oak Lawn (78), Brother Rice (124), Marist (175) and Stagg (176) advance to the Hinsdale Central Sectional.

In the girls race, Marist captured its fourth straight regional championship in a close finish with Sandburg in the nine-school field.

Marist was led by freshman Maryclare Leonard (17:47.16) and senior Julie Yaeger (18:13.92), who grabbed the top two spots ahead of three Sandburg runners.

“I just tried to keep my pace and keep focused and think about it for the team,’’ Leonard said.

“At conference I didn’t do as well as I wanted,’’ Yaeger said. “So I just kept telling myself I could do it.’’

Marist’s top five were Leonard, Yaeger, Annmarie Leonard (6th, 18:43.44), Catherine Viz (10th, 19:01.4) and Andrea Burnham (12th, 19:08).

“It’s a good group of seniors that have come through,’’ Marist coach Pat Quinn said. “Maryclare (Leonard) has been kind of hanging around the program for years.’’

Marist (31), Sandburg (33), Mother McAuley (71), Shepard (109), Reavis (147) and Stagg (176) move on to the Hinsdale Central Sectional.

Sandburg had four runners in the top 10 — Casey Jensen (3rd, 18:27.42), Grace Foley (4th, 18:31.12), Meghan Mokate (5th, 18:38.79) and Annie Lebert (8th, 18:58.09).



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