Tim Tierney: cross country notes

SHARE Tim Tierney: cross country notes

Led by senior Tommy Kolacki and junior Ian Peterson, the top seven runners for Lincoln-Way Central have been compared to a fist.

“We’ve got our 1-2 punch,’’ Central coach John Taylor said. “And as one of the moms said, ‘A 1-2 punch and the rest are knuckles.’ ’’

Kolacki was the individual champion and Peterson runner-up Saturday at the Argo Invitational to lead the Knights to the team title, their second this season.

Jackson Waters, Ben Alvarado, Zak Hutchinson, Andrew Robbins and Nate Coppens complete a strong top seven for Central.

“Those five guys in that group is really what’s going to make or break us at the end of the season,’’ Taylor said.

Central has competed in strong fields at the Sept. 6 Lyons Invitational, won by Sandburg, and the Sept. 13 First to the Finish Invitational in Peoria.

“It’s great to face competition that is really good, quality competition. We embrace that,’’ Taylor said.

So do his runners.

“Sandburg, they’ve got a great team,’’ Kolacki said. “Hopefully, I can be up with a bunch of their guys.

“I think we can get our top five under 15:30. I think that could be a top 10 finish down at state.’’

Kolacki, Peterson, Robbins and Waters return from the group that finished 18th last year in the Class 3A state final.

Peterson, a junior, wants to run sub-15:00 by the time the state meet comes around in November.

“When I was a freshman, Chris Kaminski (Drake University) and those guys were way ahead,’’ Peterson said.

“It pushed me to run with them. Sophomore year I was practicing with them and realized I could be up with them.’’

The success of Central’s football team, which is 3-1, doesn’t mean less notoriety for the cross country programs.

“We have great support at Central,’’ Taylor said. “(Athletic director and football coach) Hud Venerable is an awesome supporter of our programs, both guys and girls.’’

The girls squad also won the team championship at Argo, to go with titles from meets at Young and T.F. South.

Madison Smith, Heidi Killinger, Gretchen Zirgaitis, Liz Venezio, Dana Boucher, Emily Furtek and Amanda Baker have been the top seven for the Knights.

“The girls have been putting in the mileage, hitting the workout days really hard,’’ girls coach Brian VanBeveren said.

Team to watch

Coming off Oak Lawn’s third-place finish among 23 teams at the Argo Invitational, Spartans senior Luis Garcia is confident about the rest of the season.

“We improved so much over the years,’’ Garcia said. “Last year we were a pretty solid team, but this year we’re a little deeper.’’

Garcia finished fourth at Argo, Diego Arana was eighth and Nick Minnella 12th.

“Win conference and come close to a first place at regional,’’ Arana said about goals for the season.

Proving ground

Sandburg has won three consecutive meet titles, including invitationals at Lyons and Reavis. But it was Saturday’s victory at the Richard Spring Invitational, hosted by Peoria Notre Dame, that showed the Eagles should be a solid contender for the Class 3A state championship.

In a huge field of 63 teams that included York and O’Fallon, Sandburg’s first five individuals finished among the top 21 at Detweiller Park, site of the state final.

Twins Sean and Chris Torpy were eighth (14:55.5) and 12th (15:05.5), respectively.

They were followed by Max Lehnhardt (15th, 15:07.5), Tom Brennan (18th, 15:11.2) and Martin Skucas (21st, 15:13.0).

Another indication of Sandburg’s depth: Greg Burzinski (27th, 15:18.6) and Brandon Lukas (33rd, 15:23.5) weren’t far behind.

Defending 3A state champion Hinsdale Central, runner-up Downers North and Sandburg will meet Nov. 1 in the Marist Sectional at Midlothian Meadows

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