Lyons looks for first trophy in 9 years
Western Springs, 10/20/12--Lyons Township's Dan Lupano, Mike Accetura, and Cody Riesterer were the first three finishers for their team, and the overall third, fourth and fifth finishers in the race. Lyons Township High School hosted a girls and boys cross country regional meet on Saturday afternoon. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:47AM
MARKHAM — Lyons senior Mike Matusiak has been feeling anxious.
He’s been looking forward to playing a key role when the Lions’ boys cross country team tries to add to its proud tradition this season.
“We set a goal to take a trophy home at state,” said Matusiak, who helped LT win the Class 3A Marist sectional Saturday at Midlothian Meadows. “That’s all that we’re worrying about right now. We trained perfectly for this. We’re definitely excited. This is what we’ve been looking forward to all year.”
LT (74 points) finished ahead of Plainfield South (115), Neuqua Valley (118), Sandburg (120) and Hinsdale Central, which earned the final berth for the state meet Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
LT’s program has won two state championships and three other top-three finishes, but hasn’t earned a trophy since placing second in 2003.
That could change this weekend.
Senior Ryan Speir finished seventh in 15 minutes, 5.02 seconds to pace the Lions Saturday, while Matusiak was ninth (15:13.3). Junior James Ryan was 12th (15:13.9), junior Dan Lupano took 22nd (15:21.6) and senior Mike Accetura finished 24th (15:25.1).
“We’re happy with our place, but we wanted to run more as a team,” Speir said. “That’s what we’ll work on for (state).”
Hinsdale Central junior Billy Magnesen had a modest goal for himself heading into the season.
“I just wanted to be in the top seven (runners) on the team,” Magnesen said. “I wanted to be there the whole season and run at state.”
Not only did he accomplished that, Magnesen emerged as one of the team’s top runners.
He finished eighth overall Saturday at the Class 3A Marist sectional in 15:05.5 to earn a medal and help the Red Devils secure a state berth with their fifth-place finish.
“It’s been really a surprise to me more than anyone to be in the position I’m in. I guess I surpassed my own expectations,” Magnesen said. “Getting to state has definitely been the goal for us this whole season. It just feels really good right now, but we’ve got to keep working because we hope to be top 10 at state.”
Hinsdale Central coach Jim Westphal is not surprised by Magnesen’s performance.
“Billy ran steady,” Westphal said. “He put himself in the position he needed to. I thought it was a good finish for him. That confidence and race strategy will continue next week. He’s done a nice job and is emerging as a good front-runner.”
Hinsdale Central had to sweat out its state berth.
The top five teams move on to the state meet Saturday in Peoria and the Red Devils didn’t discover their fate until long after the sectional race.
“We live to fight another day,” Westphal said. “The guys are excited about that and hopefully we can capitalize on that at state.”
The Red Devils (160 points) finished behind Lyons (74), Plainfield South (115), Neuqua Valley (118) and Sandburg (120), and ahead of Plainfield East (172).
Junior Kevin Huang picked the perfect time to run a personal-best (15:24.4) to place 23rd, while senior Ryan Somerfield was close behind (25th, 15:25.7).
“I feel like I finally took another step,” Huang said. “It was a good feeling because I knew I had to come through for the team. I guess I did.”
Being the captain of a young, talented team meant the world to Hinsdale South senior John Gieres this season.
He finished 96th individually Saturday at the Class 3A Marist sectional with a time of 16:40.8 to lead the Hornets in his final race.
“High school cross country was a very nice experience,” Gieres said. “It changed me as a person. I’m so happy that I could be a captain of these guys. I’m proud of each and every one of them. I can’t wait to see them grow up. These guys are really shaping up to be great runners.”