Boys cross country: Mundelein musters up winning regional finish

 
By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/21/2017 7:29 PM
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  • Mundelein's Robert St. Clair finishes third in 15:00.6 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional.

      Mundelein's Robert St. Clair finishes third in 15:00.6 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Nikita Smyrnov of Stevenson finishes second in 14:57.2 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional.

      Nikita Smyrnov of Stevenson finishes second in 14:57.2 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Eventual winner Alex Tam of Libertyville leads a pack across the bridge during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Tam finished in 14:53.5.

      Eventual winner Alex Tam of Libertyville leads a pack across the bridge during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Tam finished in 14:53.5. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Alex Tam of Libertyville finishes first with a time of 14:52.5 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional.

      Alex Tam of Libertyville finishes first with a time of 14:52.5 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Alex Tam of Libertyville sets his watch while crossing the finish line in first in 14:52.5 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional.

      Alex Tam of Libertyville sets his watch while crossing the finish line in first in 14:52.5 during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Round Lake runner Sam Ruiz, left, is helped up after finishing 46th during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional.

      Round Lake runner Sam Ruiz, left, is helped up after finishing 46th during the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Benjamin Johnson of Libertyville lies on the ground exhausted after finishing 35th in the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional.

      Benjamin Johnson of Libertyville lies on the ground exhausted after finishing 35th in the Class 3A Lake Forest cross country regional. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Missing two of its top four runners didn't slow down Mundelein's boys cross country team in the Class 3A Lake Forest regional Saturday.

The Mustangs tuned up for the rugged Hoffman Estates sectional next Saturday at Busse Woods Grove by raising the regional championship plaque with an exciting 68-73 victory over second-place Stevenson.

Third-place Highland Park (83 points), fourth-place Libertyville (86), fifth-place Warren (104) and sixth-place Lake Forest (126) also earned a berth to the sectional meet, along with two individual at-large qualifiers from Round Lake.

Mundelein was without Mike Parduhn and Aidan Afonso, but the Mustangs triumphed behind Robert St. Clair in third, Dillon Blake in eighth, Carl Shoenfield in 12th, Matt Olorvida in 21st and Kaleb Carlson in 28th.

"I'm really pleased with the effort we gave today, and I thought we did a really good job," said Mundelein coach Kurt Rutz, whose team has a good shot at reaching the state meet for the first time in school history next weekend. "We need to run (at sectionals) the way we've been running all season at the big invites like Palatine and Peoria."

Libertyville senior Alex Tam continued to shine by winning the 3-mile race on the grounds of Lake Forest's West Campus in 14:52.5. Fellow 2016 state qualifier Nikita Smyrnov (14:57.2) of Stevenson put together a strong second-place effort before collapsing after the finish line.

The Patriots also got a 10th-place finish from Brett Lucas, 17th from Alex Beckerman, 22nd from Tim Green and 26th from Raven Jo.

"(Smyrnov) ran his best race of the season today, and he is definitely peaking at the right time," Stevenson coach Scott Sommers said. "He wants to get back to the state meet like he did last year, and if he runs under 15 minutes at this time of the year it gives him a good chance to get downstate."

After taking first place at the North Suburban Conference meet on Monday, Tam is looking good as he prepares for the final two weeks of the 2017 campaign.

"I wanted to run in the 14:30s today, and I look forward to some really top-notch competition," said Tam, who placed 40th in Class 3A as a junior. "I need to run smart, run my race and do the best I possibly can."

The Wildcats' effort was bolstered by Will Gordon (11th), Max Sauers (20th) and Nate Sweitzer (24th).

"(Tam's) goal was to win the race. Now his goal is to qualify for state," Libertyville coach Stuart Mendelsohn said. "Overall, we ran our best race, and we had our smallest spread from one to five. So everybody stepped up when they were supposed to."

Junior Bryan Holland led Warren in 13th followed by teammates Collin Jones (18th), Andrew Metcalf (23rd) and Griffen Pasha (25th).

"I thought we ran really well, and this is the youngest team I've had running at regionals in 40 years of coaching," said Warren coach Bill Dawson, who is in his 36th year as head coach for the Blue Devils. "Every meet we go to we try to learn something, and I think we're gaining confidence."

Round Lake teammates Diego Giron (15th) and Marco Hernandez (19th) earned berths to sectionals as individuals. Stevenson's Corey Pacernick placed 29th to edge Warren's Carlos Villa in 30th.

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