While two sophomores — Maryclare Leonard of Marist and Caleb Washington of Shepard — raced across the Midlothian Meadows course to win individual titles and Sandburg used a combination of youth and experience to claim both team championships at the Eagles’ Class 3A regional.
Sandburg rested its top six finishers from the SouthWest Suburban Blue boys meet victory and still scored 24 points Saturday to win by 54 over Oak Lawn in the nine-team field.
Greg Burzinski (2nd, 15:16.91), Dan Laskero (3rd, 15:35.60), Dylan Jacobs (4th, 15:41.38), David Gleisner (6th, 15:49.36) and Brady Walter (9th, 15:59.98) scored for Sandburg.
“I knew I wanted to run it from the front from the start,’’ said Burzinski, Sandburg’s only regional runner to competed at conference. “It felt really comfortable. I knew I’d have some guys on my back. The last mile fell apart a little bit, but I rallied back.’’
“We had the opportunity with the depth we have to run the second group here,’’ Sandburg coach John O’Malley said. “We knew they’d do well. We could then train the other group.’’
Washington won with a strong kick in the last mile and covered the 2.98-mile course in 15:15.94. He ran 16:04.37 last year on the same course and finished 12th.
“I wanted to stick with the leaders, who were obviously going to be Sandburg,’’ Washington said. “My strategy was to wait until the two mile and then really give it to ‘em, give it all I got all the way to the finish.
“There were a few kinks in that plan. The Sandburg guys weren’t just going to give it to me. I really had to work that last mile.’’
Besides Sandburg, Oak Lawn (78), Shepard (94), Eisenhower (110), Brother Rice (131) and Marist (160) also move on to the RedHawks’ sectional.
The top five individuals who advanced not on qualifying teams were Reavis’ Jonathan Behling (13th) and Tomas Villa (16th), Stagg’s Preston Caydler (14th) and Mount Carmel’s Brendan Jacobs (24th) and Mike Bradley (26th).
In the girls race, All-Stater Leonard (18:00.25) won her second regional title by 48 seconds.
“I got out strong. The girl from McAuley was really pushing me in the beginning, which was good,’’ Leonard said. “I started getting into the pace I wanted to get into.’’
The first five for Sandburg (28) were Casey Jensen (2nd, 18:48.27), Erica Cerva (3rd, 19:01.23), Grace Foley (4th, 19:06.54), Jade Lukas (7th, 19:24.37) and Francesca Strolia (12th, 20:09.70).
“We were back in the forest, communicating really well, making sure to check up on one another, not let one person fall back,’’ Jensen said.
“They all ran a very smart race, which is what we’ve been encouraging them to do,’’ Sandburg coach Jenn Genslinger said. “That 2-3-4 pack was amazing.’’
Runner-up Marist (43), Trinity (88), Mother McAuley (90), Eisenhower (157) and Stagg (165) also qualified for the sectional.
The top five individuals who advanced not from qualifying teams were Shepard’s Kelli Callahan (17th), Oak Lawn’s Tasneem Jaber (19th) and Jessica Sciaky (39th) and Reavis’ Yuliana Olivares (30th) and Christine Trovato (38th).