Heineman Middle School’s boys cross country team had a good week, winning the Fox Valley Conference Meet on Oct. 7 at Emricson Park in Woodstock and the Class 3A McHenry Middle School Sectional on Saturday to qualify for state as a team.
Heineman, in Algonquin, will run at the IESA state meet Saturday at Maxwell Park in Normal.
After winning conference, Heineman coach Jason Monson said there was a lot of pressure to keep a winning streak going.
“I was confident they would make it (to state),” Monson said. “There was a lot on the line because they were unbeaten.”
Heineman used a team approach to winning, placing four of its runners in the top 10. Joey Ozzauto led the Hawks with a third-place finish (11:20) in the 2-mile course, followed by Luke Loprieno in fourth (11:28), Jadon Conroy in fifth (11:30) and Marcus Herrington (11:39) in ninth.
Of the 10 runners on the team, half are in seventh grade, including Conroy and Herrington.
“I knew how talented they were this year. We’re going to be very deep next year as well,” Monson said.
Monson attributes part of the team’s success to facing good competition from out of the area. They ran invitationals in Shorewood, Belvidere and Yorkville.
“I tried to get them a lot of exposure at Saturday meets,” Monson said.
Monson said having a successful program makes it a little easier to get kids interested in coming out for both cross country and track.
“I think the kids see the success from other kids in front of them,” Monson said. “It really has been easy to get the best runners to come out.”
The Heineman girls team finished fifth to miss out on qualifying as a team, but Mary Raclawski (fourth) and Lindsey Ferguson (seventh) qualified as individuals.
On Friday, the team will travel to Peoria to watch Haley Loprieno, a former Heineman and Huntley runner and sister of Luke Loprieno, run for Marquette University at the Bradley University Classic.
Monson hopes the experience will be inspirational to his runners to watch the sport at a higher level.
“It will definitely motivate them to see how big this sport is,” Monson said.
Also at McHenry, Maki Mohr won the boys race in 11:16 to lead his McHenry Middle school team to a second-place finish and a berth at state. Also for McHenry, Kevin Santopadre finished 10th in 11:48.
Kevin Sieb, from Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills, finished eighth (11:34) to qualify as an individual.
In Class 1A, the Fox River Grove Middle School girls team won the Mount Prospect Sectional a Melas Park West to qualify for state as a team. Samantha Gagliano won the sectional for Fox River Grove in 13:10.
In Class 2A, Johnsburg Junior High took third at its own sectional to qualify its girls team for state.
For complete local middle school cross country sectional results, see Fine Print, page B5.
• Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com.