September 29, 2013 8:54PM
Updated: September 30, 2013 2:30AM
Stagg reigned supreme two out of the last three years in the SouthWest Suburban Red conference, but a realignment now has the Chargers in the SWSC Blue in a swap with Lincoln-Way East.
“Both of our divisions in the conference are very competitive,” Stagg coach Marcea Reuther said, noting the Chargers will host the Blue tournament Oct. 4 at Silver Lakes.
Natalie Collina finished seventh in the Red division for Stagg last season and is now the team’s No. 1 player. Collina should be in contention for another conference medal.
“(Natalie) is a hard worker and has really been working on her game,” Reuther said. “Not only has she worked on improving her swing, she has been a great role model and leader for the team.”
Sandburg, led by Frankie Saban, is the front runner for the SWSC Blue crown. Kelly Sterling and Lincoln-Way East should vie for top honors in the Red division.
It’s been a total team effort this season for Minooka, which finished undefeated in the Southwest Prairie Conference as it heads into the league tournament Monday at Prairie Bluff.
“We have one of those amazing teams were the man playing number eight can easily bring in our best score,” Minooka coach Brian Petrovic said.
Petrovic noted Kyle Sheppard, Jason Chobar and Dan Anfield as his “hottest players at the moment.” Chobar finished runner-up in the SPC tournament last year and each of three has been under or around par over the past few weeks.
Minooka will need that trio to perform well if it hopes to dethrone two-time reigning champion Plainfield North, which is led by senior Ben Roth.
The Indians went undefeated in the SPC tournament last season but finished third behind North and Plainfield Central, with just seven strokes separating the schools.
“We just need to guard against playing too tight and putting too much pressure on ourselves,” Petrovic added.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
A Class 3A state qualifier the past two seasons, Lincoln-Way East is solidifying its lineup with a sophomore and a junior leading the way.
Alyssa Vogt, who missed her freshman season last year because of a stress fracture, and Kristy Dertz, East’s top returnee from the state meet, led the Griffins to second place Saturday in the 16-team large school race at the Tinley Park Invitational.
Vogt placed fifth overall in 19 minutes, 20 seconds.
“She’s finding how to race in cross country,’’ East coach Wendy Hegarty. “She’s less afraid to go out and run hard for three miles.’’
On Dertz, Hegarty said: “She’s finally saying, ‘I’m varsity. This is where I am as a junior.’ Run hard as a freshman to sophomore, take a step up. She’s found her competitive spirit.’’
Anna Conboy and sisters Abby and Erin Couwenhoven were East’s 3-4-5 runners in the Tinley Park meet.
Next for the Griffins is a flight invitational Saturday at Wheaton North.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Joliet Central finished at the top of the 18-team large school race Saturday in the Tinley Park Invitational at Midlothian Meadows.
The Steelmen’s Salvador Lazaro won the individual title of the Championship Division by covering the course in 15 minutes, 33 seconds.
“I had to change my tactics,’’ Lazaro said. “Usually I just take the lead and hopefully I stay. I was in the pack for the first mile, mile-and-a-half.
“Then I started to take control. I knew I don’t have much of a kick, but I tried to open up as much space as I could.’’
Central’s top five were Lazaro, Raul Rosendo (9th), Vince Moreno (15th), Andre Martinez (20th) and Jose Aguilera (22nd).
Next for Joliet Central is the highly competitive Lockport Invitational on Saturday at Dellwood Park.
The top five teams at last year’s invitational—Lyons, Neuqua Valley, Hinsdale Central, Plainfield South and Naperville North–all finished among the top 12 at the Class 3A state final.