Boys Cross Country: Sandburg secures spot in state finals
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media October 27, 2012 7:48PM
Plainfield South's Dan Lathrop (left), Plainfield East's Joseph Suarez (center) and Sandburg's Pat McMahon (right) approach the finish line during the boys Marist Cross Country Sectional at Midlothian Meadow Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, in Midlothian. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 6:39AM
It didn’t look good Saturday for Sandburg during the early part of the Class 3A Marist Sectional at Midlothian Meadows.
“As a group we were buried, way buried,’’ Sandburg coach John O’Malley said. “I was waiting in the woods about a mile-and-a-half in and I’m saying, ‘Where is our team?’ To their credit, they really rallied back and responded.’’
With only the top five schools advancing to the state meet from the 21-team field, Sandburg (120) recovered in time to grab fourth place behind Lyons (74), Plainfield South (115) and Neuqua Valley (118). Hinsdale Central (160) was fifth.
O’Malley said his team was “a little tentative’’ and would have been “in big trouble” if not for freshman Tom Brennan finishing 30th in his first varsity race.
“He just ran awesome,’’ O’Malley said. “He just ran with guts and ran free. And he’s been sick on top of it, so it was a really gutsy race.’’
Pat McMahon led the Sandburg pack with a fifth-place finish in 15 minutes, 1 second.
“Not exactly the way we wanted to do it, but we’ll take it,’’ McMahon said. “You saw three of the top four individuals aren’t going down with a team. It’s a very strong sectional.’’
The rest of the Sandburg scorers were Pat Letz (18th, 15:19), Chris Hogan (21st, 15:21), Brennan (15:28) and Nicholas Prajka (46th, 15:51).
“We were supposed to go out fast,’’ Letz said. “We didn’t exactly do that to plan, but the entire race we just kept pushing past guys. We know if there’s a giant pack in front of us, we can go get it.’’
“We knew it was going to be a tough race, but I think we fought through it,’’ Hogan said.
Three Southland runners advanced to the state meet as individuals: Marist’s Kyle Hauser (10th, 15:13.3), Lockport’s Will Giroux (11th, 15.13.7) and Shepard’s Abel Hernandez (14th, 15:16.7).
“The group was really tight until about a mile-and-a-half it started to split off,’’ Hauser said. “After that I was really trying to hold on to my spot because I knew I was really close to making it downstate.’’