Boys cross country sectional preview: Vaccaro sticks to plan
Maine South's Jon Vaccaro (419) takes the lead from New Trier's Ethan Kaplan (505) during the regional cross country meet at Harms Woods in Skokie on Saturday. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
1. Maine South, 31 points
2. New Trier, 52
3. Niles North, 65
4. Loyola, 114
5. Glenbrook South, 150
6. Glenbrook North, 185
7. Evanston, 193
1. Jon Vaccaro, Maine South 15 minutes, 14 seconds
2. Ethan Kaplan, New Trier, 15:21
3. Robert Taylor, Maine South, 15:24
4. Micah Beller, Niles North, 15:28
5. Kevin Dolan, Maine South, 15:31
6. David O’Gara, Glenbrook South, 15:35
7. Chase Silverman, New Trier, 15:40
8. Dan Cheung, Glenbrook North, 15:44
9. Randy Mortell, Niles North, 15:46
10. Jack Carpenter, Maine South, 15:51
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:39AM
SKOKIE — Jon Vaccaro didn’t let the fast pace disrupt his game plan Saturday.
Even though Niles North’s Micah Beller and Evanston’s Carl Klamm broke free of the pack early, the Maine South senior stuck with his own strategy to earn the regional championship. Vaccaro clocked a 15:14.74 to oudistance New Trier’s Ethan Kaplan by more than 7 seconds to help the Hawks to the team title with 31 points.
“They both went out so fast, and I was starting to think about running for second place,” Vaccaro said of Beller and Klamm, an unlikely pairing. “Then me and Ethan kept gaining on them.”
Vaccaro knows this weekend’s race at Niles West is the big one. The Hawks are one of the favorites, along with New Trier, to be one of the five qualifying teams for the Nov. 3 state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
“We are finally doing what I thought we could do at the beginning of the season,” Maine South coach Greg Nordahl said. “We are starting to look like that team, but I still think we have a little more room for improvement. We still feel like we have a couple of races ahead of us, and we expect to do better.”
Vaccaro said the Hawks are in position to peak the weekend of the state meet. All five runners were in the top 12 at Loyola’s regional, including senior Robert Taylor (third, 15:24) and senior Kevin Dolan (fifth, 15:31)
“We have a talented group of guys,” Vaccaro said. “Dolan’s only gotten better as the season’s gone on. Same with Robert.
“We are ready to go.”
Ramblers on the rise
Loyola continues to look like a team that can contend for a spot at the state meet.
After taking second place at the Catholic League meet behind St. Ignatius, the Ramblers finished fourth Saturday at their own regional at Harms Woods with 114 points.
Loyola was led by junior Matt Randolph, who crossed the line in 17th (16:01). Even the team’s seventh runner — junior Matt Scherer — finished 36th (16:27).
“Yeah, I think we all were happy,” said senior Chris Kelly, who came in 24th (16:09). “We are stressing (this weekend) more than anything, though. But if we want to get out of sectionals, we will need to run our best race. The regional was a tuneup, a prep race.”
Loyola will be competing Saturday against the likes of Maine South, New Trier, Niles North, York and St. Ignatius at Niles West for a trip to the state meet.
Kelly and junior Teddy Brombach, who was 26th (16:11) last week, are the only two Ramblers with experience running at the sectionals.
“I hadn’t raced at the sectional before last year, and I had my best race there,” Kelly said. “I think everybody is going to be ready.”
Evanston earned the seventh and final spot out of Loyola’s regional Saturday behind sophomores Carl Klamm and Estaban Escabar.
Klamm went out fast and briefly shared the top position with Niles North’s Micah Beller before falling back to 15th (15:59). Meanwhile, Escabar took 23rd (16:08). Senior Jay Honnold (42nd, 16:44), senior Jame Grodzicki (51st, 16:55) and freshman Spencer Eanes (62nd, 17:20) rounded out the team’s scoring.
“I was proud of myself and my team,” Klamm said. “I am just a sophomore, but I know this meant a lot to Jay, our captain. It meant a lot to him to do this as a team.”
Evanston, which took 10th at the regionals last season, is back at the sectionals as a team for the first time since 2008.
“We know it’s going to be a really tough meet,” Klamm said. “I do hope I perform well enough to make it to the state meet. I will run my best and see what happens.”
Lace ’em up again
Maine East and Niles West each qualified two runners for Saturday’s sectional at Niles West.
Senior Aayush Shah (27th, 16:13) and sophomore Anthony Misiak (37th, 16:29) advanced for the Demons. Senior Justin Atwal (32nd, 17:17) and senior Yandiel Cardenas (39th, 16:37) survived for the Wolves.