Boys Cross Country: Bolstered by returning standouts, Sandburg aims for top-three finish at state
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media August 27, 2014 8:56PM
Sandburg runners (from left) Dan Laskero, Chris Torpy, Tom Brennan, Sean Torpy and Greg Burzinski. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY 2014
TOP 5 TEAMS
1. Sandburg: The Eagles have the talent and depth to contend for a Class 3A state trophy. Tom Brennan, Greg Burzinski, Sean Torpy and Chris Torpy return from group that took seventh place at state.
2. Illiana Christian: The 2013 runner-up in Class 2A, Vikings have returnees Nick Fiene, Colin DeYoung, Nick Wondaal and Tommy McGuire to lead another trophy chase. Jacob Thompson and Derrick VanProyen will contribute.
3. Lincoln-Way Central: The Knights return 3A state meet scorers Tommy Kolacki, Ian Peterson and Andrew Robbins from 18th-place team. State runner Jackson Waters and freshman standout Zak Hutchinson will be key individuals.
4. Oak Lawn: The Spartans should be a team to watch with talented senior Nick Minnella atop a promising group that includes Diego Arana, Luis Garcia and Romello Williams.
5. Shepard: Sophomore Caleb Washington leads the defending South Suburban Red champion Astros, who graduated five of top seven. Garett White and Brian Maty are coming off huge summer.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS
(in alphabetical order)
Tom Brennan, Sandburg, jr.; Greg Burzinski, Sandburg, sr.; Colin DeYoung, Illiana Christian, jr.; Nick Fiene, Illiana Christian, sr.; Tommy Kolacki, Lincoln-Way Central, sr.; Ian Peterson, Lincoln-Way Central, jr.; Chris Torpy, Sandburg, jr.; Sean Torpy, Sandburg, jr.; Ben Walczak, Lincoln-Way East, sr.; Nick Wondaal, Illiana Christian, jr.
Updated: September 29, 2014 12:14PM
Even for Sandburg, the expectations are higher than usual this year — and the Eagles want it that way.
“One of the feelings last year at state, seventh was a good finish, but we’re not satisfied,’’ Sandburg coach John O’Malley said. “We’ve got a core coming back. Let’s take it to the next level.’’
With four runners back from Sandburg’s top five finishers at the 2013 Class 3A state meet, plus several promising individuals waiting to get their chance, the Eagles have their sights set on a top-three finish and a trophy in Peoria.
“As a coach, you like to stay in the moment and get better every day, all those cliches. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to get where you want to go,’’ O’Malley said.
“But there’s a different atmosphere this year. There’s a different level of what we’re going to accept as a quality performance and a good outcome from what might have been in the past.’’
Sandburg is led by junior Tom Brennan, described by O’Malley as “just a tough, tough kid.’’ Last year’s 31st-place state finisher has run in the summer program at Sandburg since sixth grade.
“We all want to go out and win state, but we’ve got to take it one meet at a time,’’ Brennan said. “We’ve had years where we thought we were going to be able to do it. It’s a tough thing to do.’’
Senior Greg Burzinski ran 85 miles a week during the summer and said guys ran on their own more than usual over the summer months.
“The difference with this year is we’re trying to get more geared up during the year,’’ Burzinski said. “Last year it felt like toward the end we were rushing, trying to figure out how guys would race together.’’
The Torpy twins, juniors Chris and Sean, complete the group of four runners who finished among Sandburg’s top five at the state meet. When it comes to running, “they’re killers,’’ O’Malley said of the Torpys.
“There’s a lot of good competition in the state right now,’’ Sean Torpy said. “We’ll see toward the end of the season which team really wants it.’’
Chris Torpy played football as a freshman before switching to cross country.
“We’ve got one of the best teams ever coming through here,’’ Chris said. “The main focus is staying healthy.’’
Junior Dan Laskero, another returnee from the state meet squad, is getting back gradually after an injury.
Others likely to be among the main contributors are juniors David Gleisner and Brandon Lukas, sophomore Martin Skucas and senior Brady Walter.
“There’s such a good tradition,’’ Brennan said. “It’s easy to know what you’re doing is going to work out because there’s been so many to come before you.’’