Boys Cross Country
Ranked No. 1 all season by DyeStat Illinois, Class 2A power Illiana Christian now gets the chance to prove it.
Illiana will head the 10-team field Saturday in the Oak Forest Regional at Midlothian Meadows. The top six teams there advance to the Wheaton Academy Sectional on Nov. 2.
“It’s been really exciting to see them develop,’’ Illiana coach Jim Piaskowy said. “The team chemistry is unbelievable. They really complement each other. They train well together, race well together.’’
Tony Wondaal, Nick Fiene, Colin DeYoung, Nick Wondaal and Kevin Vroegh will be looking for more in the state series after leading Illiana to sixth place at the 2012 state meet.
Proof of Illiana’s potential came last month, when the Vikings topped the 52-team Class 2A field in the First to the Finish Invitational at Detweiller Park.
“We should have at least four All-Staters, maybe 5,’’ Piaskowy said. “We’re hoping we can have five under 15 minutes.
“We’re hoping we can win the state meet.’’
Girls Cross Country
The chase for another spot in the Class 2A state meet starts to get serious Saturday for Illiana Christian.
The Vikings are expected to do well at the Oak Forest Regional, which advances the top six teams to the Wheaton Academy Sectional on Nov. 2.
“The top teams in our sectional are also ranked teams in the state,’’ Illiana Christian coach Deb Top said.
Top is referring to defending Class 2A champion Yorkville and Glenbard South, fourth last year. The sectional also will likely include Lemont and Riverside-Brookfield—teams that have been ranked by DyeStat Illinois--as well as East Suburban Catholic champ Benet.
No wonder Top describes the sectional field as a “powerhouse.’’
“If you make it out of there, you’re going to place probably in the top 10 in the state,’’ Top said. “We’re going to do everything we can to have the girls ready.’’
Alexa Beezhold’s 15th-place finish as a junior led Illiana to 10th place at the 2012 state meet.
Jake White, Matt Contey and Tyler Kelly piloted Lincoln-Way East to the Class 3A state tournament in Bloomington for just the second time in school history. Next season, though, White will have the captain’s chair all to himself with Contey and Kelly lost to graduation.
But White won’t be driving a short bus. Victor Perez and Lee Hill return to form a solid nucleus with White, a junior, who was arguably the team’s most consistent player down the stretch.
Another team to watch in next season is Illiana Christian. The Vikings pair of Mathew Zandstra and Steven Massey placed 31st and 43rd, respectively, in the Class 2A state tournament.
“It’s going to be nice building around those two next season,” Illiana coach Jack Rudenga said.
Varsity starter Nathan Zuidema, a junior, is also slated to return.
Providence’s state-qualifying pair of Dom Cascino and Ricky Costello might not have finished where they wanted at Class 3A state tournament on Saturday, but the experience could prove invaluable for the Celtics, who look like a prime contender for a team berth in 2014.
Cascino and Costello are slated to return next season alongside former state qualifier Mickey Brick and standout Will McCabe.
Costello, one of the top freshman in the state, won the 112-person Pekin Sectional. Cascino, a junior, might have been the biggest surprise of that sectional, qualifying for state out of Providence’s No. 5 spot in the lineup.
“Dom is so close to being a really good player,” Providence coach John Platt said, noting Cascino was a full-time hockey player last season. “If he puts the work in, I think he could be one of the top guys.”