Wolf pack hunts down first conference title : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Wolf pack hunts down first conference title|
|Five Oswego East runners earn All-Conference honors |
|by Kristin Sharp|
With five runners finishing in the top 14 to earn Southwest Prairie All-Conference honors, Oswego East boys' cross country head coach Scott Gengler was confident that a conference championship would follow.
The points were tallied last Saturday following the SPC race at Hammel Woods in Shorewood, and Oswego East earned its first-ever conference championship, topping the eight-team field with 43 points. Plainfield South edged out Oswego for second place, 64-65, and Plainfield East was fourth with 92 points.
"We were keeping track and when you can have five guys finish All-Conference, it's a pretty good indication that you might be conference champions," Gengler said. "Once Charles (Thornton) came through, we could see that we had a good chance.
"We knew that if they went out and did what we had been doing all year, it would be pretty tight at the top. We weren't sure about Plainfield South and how well they were running, but we thought if we ran the race like we could, good things were going to happen," Gengler added.
Plainfield South senior Dan Lathrop won the race with a time of 15:30 while Oswego junior Peter Johnsrud was second, clocking in at 15:41, and Oswego East senior Michael Delaney was third with a time of 15:47.
With Delaney setting the pace, the front pack of five finished within 43 seconds of each other. Junior Ryan Fluke was sixth overall with a time of 15:49, junior Turner Kelly crossed the finish line in 16:23 to take 10th, senior Mason Miller was 11th in 16:25 and senior Charles Thornton was 13th overall with a finishing time of 16:30.
Senior Tyler McQuality (16:55) and junior Casey Dowdle (17:49) rounded out the top seven.
"Michael went out really fast and had a nice opening mile. He didn't back up his second mile as strong, but he finished with a strong third mile and flew threw the last 100 meters to finish third. He passed Plainfield East's runner and finished out the race real strong; stronger than he has in the past," Gengler said. "Turner hadn't run the last few weeks and he came out and ran an exceptionally great race. Ryan was very consistent and ran a strong race. Mason and Charles ran strong races too. We're happy with the consistency we're getting out of them. It's going well right now heading into the postseason."
Behind Johnsrud's runner-up effort, senior Desmond Meyer finished 12th overall with a time of 16:29 and junior Chris Pagan clocked in at 16:30 to place 14th and clinch the final All-Conference spot.
"With talking to Peter afterwards, he realized there was a point in the race where he could have matched Dan (Lathrop) and didn't. ... Continuing the build off that, we're looking at ways to make him understand that just because someone is controlling the race doesn't mean they're in control of you," Oswego head coach Dan Whipple said. "He realized there was a little bit of game playing going on and he let it get the better of him. He knows he's able to be there."
Freshman Bennett Peterson was 18th overall with a time of 16:43, senior Lucas Kammerer was 19th in 16:46, senior Chase Hall clocked in at 17:19 and junior Matt Taves finished in 17:28 to round out the top seven.
"We had bigger goals than that, and looking at it a day or two later, there was definitely an opportunity that we could have taken that we did not take," Whipple said. "We had some guys out of position and we did not tactically run the race that we had planned to as a team. Individually, there were a lot of successes and even as a whole we did improve from the last couple years. It's an opportunity to teach a lesson and learn. That's the closest we've been to Plainfield South at a legitimate meet in a few years."
Girls Cross Country
Minooka's claim on the SPC title proved untouchable again this year as the Indians scored 22 points in last Saturday's meet to defend its conference championship, but Oswego East came away with four All-Conference runners and a runner-up finish behind Minooka.
"Early in the season the girls set a team goal to win conference. Although we didn't win, we came closer this year than last year," Oswego East girls' head coach Lisa Cook said. "It takes time to accomplish some of those goals, and I am very proud of the girls for all they did accomplish this year. We improved upon last year's finish, and four athletes earned All-Conference honors. That's a huge improvement, as last year we only had one (Hayley Zweig). This team has worked so hard, and it's clear we are much better than we were at this time last year."
The Wolves scored 62 points to take second ahead of Plainfield South (74) and Oswego (95) to round out the top four. Minooka's Ashley Tutt won the race in 18:23, and the Indians had four finishers in the top six.
"We feel like we can run better," Oswego girls' head coach Eric Simon said. "We knew who the teams were. Minooka was the heavy favorite, we knew (Oswego) East was good. We feel like we didn't have our best race. Even though we're a young team, I think they expect a little more out of themselves. Having such a big number of young kids in the lineup, we've been up and down this year and that's part of the growing pains. Hopefully we can bounce back and have a better race at regionals."
Oswego East had four runners finish within 25 seconds of each other, paced by senior Michelle Borycki, who clocked in at 19:15 to place ninth overall. Freshman Alexis Henz finished 10th in 19:21 while senior Mollie Karasch was 12th with a time of 19:35 and junior Hannah Baur placed 13th in 19:40. Sophomore Abby Cain rounded out the team score as the fifth runner, placing 18th overall in 19:47.
"Coming into the final stretch, I thought we were going to get five in the top 14. Abby ran great for most of the race and was fighting off a cramp in the final stages. Unfortunately, she was not able to close and remain in the top 14," Cook said. "I know she was disappointed, but every race is a learning experience, and she'll be eager to race hard. Regardless, having Michelle, Alexis, Mollie and Hannah all in the top 14 was fantastic. This was a first for all of the girls. ... Hannah and Mollie didn't realize they were in the top 14 until I told them, and that was a really fun surprise. It's a highlight for me to see their hard work pay off."
Senior Mari McDowell clocked in at 20:27 while junior Rose Amodea finished right behind in 20:28 to round out the top seven for Oswego East.
For Oswego, sophomore Allyson McLaughlin placed seventh overall with a time of 19:11 while freshman Abby Fioresi joined her on the All-Conference list, placing 11th with a time of 19:31.
"They ran well," Simon said. "Allyson has come a long way. Last year she wasn't even in the frosh/soph race. She was 27th in the open race. She's really made a big improvement even since last spring. Abby has run well since the beginning of the year, so that was good for her getting in there and being All-Conference."
Sophomore Maddie Krammerer was 22nd overall with a time of 20:01, sophomore Kayla Wooten placed 26th in 20:21, senior Teagan Terando placed 29th in 20:32 and sophomore Julia Manzano finished 30th with a time of 20:34.
Class 4A Regional
Now, Oswego and Oswego East enter the nine-team Plainfield South Regional at Hammel Woods Saturday at 10 a.m. All four Plainfield schools will join Oswego, Oswego East, Bolingbrook, Lockport and Neuqua Valley, with the top six teams advancing to the Hinsdale Central Sectional at Kathryn Legge Memorial Park on Nov. 2 at 11 a.m.
Lockport enters the race ranked No. 15 while Neuqua Valley is ranked No. 18.
"Hammel Woods is a tricky course, with exposed roots, several bridges and a few tight turns. The girls got out pretty quick at conference, which they will have to do again this week," Cook said. "Neuqua and Lockport both have very strong teams, so there will be some new competition in the race. Our team looked great through two miles in terms of competing with Minooka, so I hope with a sectional trip on the line, we will be able to close a little stronger in the final mile and close the gap on Neuqua and Lockport. The competition certainly won't get easier from here on out, so we have to rise to the challenge. We are definitely looking forward to the remainder of the season."
The Oswego East boys' cross country team moved into the top 25 for the first time this season, ranked No. 24 following its SPC championship effort.
"We like where we're sitting heading into regionals. We're just going to continue the same preparations we have this season." Gengler said. "It's possible for us to get a regional championship. Neuqua Valley has a very strong team and Plainfield South is strong, and so is Oswego. I think those are the four top teams vying for that regional championship."
Neuqua Valley is ranked No. 6 among Class 3A teams.
"We're going to continue to reinforce tightening things up and not letting that separation begin because once it begins, it's hard to make it up," Whipple said. "We could be fourth, but we shouldn't be fourth. We should be better than fourth at the regional meet."