Mixed bag for Cyclones runners at COD
It was both a good and not-so-good day for Moraine Valley College cross country runners at the College of DuPage Invitational on Sept. 27.
The Cyclones women, while finishing 12th among the 17 schools competing at St. James Farm in Warrenville, pleased coach Mark Horstmeyer with their level of improvement. A big reason for the satisfaction was the overall strength of the field — along with other National Junior College Athletic Association Region IV schools, the meet brought together programs representing the NAIA and all divisions of the NCAA.
A standout for Moraine was Aileen Gorman, who was the 27th runner to reach the chute. Of the 167 athletes who took part in the 5K event, Gorman ranked as the top junior-college finisher. Also scoring points for the Cyclones were Miranda Reyes (90th place), Jessica Flores (94th), Amy Johnson (103rd) and Lex Mindock (107th).
Maritza Najera supplied Moraine with a 127th-place showing.
“The girls had another positive outing,” Horstmeyer said. “We still have work to do, but at the halfway point in the season, we’re progressing.
“We were interested in seeing how they would respond in such a competitive field and, actually, a race within a race. All of our conference schools, and all but one Region IV school, were in the mix.”
The news wasn’t as favorable for the Cyclones men at St. James Farm, where Brandon Ceh’s 84th represented Moraine’s best individual performance. Ceh completed the 8K race in 28 minutes, 55 seconds.
Thomas Cira (113th in 29:55), Anton Thauer (137th, 30:45), Alejandro Montes (148th, 31:16) and Justin Briante (151st, 31:37) were the Cyclones’ other point producers. Zach Butera (154th, 31:47), Ryan Dogvin (175th, 33:16) and Larry Byrd (195th, 35:44) also competed for Moraine, which wound up 17th in a 21-team lineup.
“The guys did not have a good day, and they know it,” Horstmeyer said. “Sometimes a race like that is beneficial and can serve as a wake-up call because we’re quickly heading to the championship season.
“All of the conference teams, and all but one Region IV team, were in the field, so the guys gained some understanding of where they stand with a month to go. It’s now up to them to decide how to respond from here on out. I expect that response to be very positive.”
The running conditions weren’t the best for Moraine at Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Warrior Invitational in West Allis on Saturday.
In addition to the course being a challenging one, poor weather made it even more so. Thus, Cyclones athletes concentrated on placement instead of time, which paid off rather nicely for both the men and women.
Moraine’s men’s team took 13th in a 25-school field, while the female Cyclones wound up 17th among 29 squads. One of the teams Moraine bettered on the men’s side was Waubonsee College, which had finished ahead of the Cyclones one week earlier in the COD Invitational.
Dawid Palace led Moraine this time by placing 56th in a 234-finisher field. Ceh was next in the 97th position, followed by Jesus Rojas (99th), Thauer (110th), Cira (113th), Briante (122nd), Montes (152nd) and Byrd (216th). The top five runners all scored for the Cyclones.
“Since this was a big race in terms of numbers and teams, we told the guys that we didn’t want them to wear watches, but to just go out and compete and see what happens,” Horstmeyer said. “The times didn’t matter.
“We knew because of the difficult course, made even more challenging by the weather, that this would be a good opportunity to see what they could do by just getting in there and mixing it up. We liked how they finished.”
Gorman again led the way for the Moraine women over a muddy and hilly 6K course by finishing 50th among 271 runners in 26:07. Reyes (102nd in 27:49), Mindock (146th, 29:08), Johnson (152nd, 29:19) and Najera (211th, 31:49) rounded out the Cyclones’ scoring.
Sury Rosete (267th, 39:55) also competed for Moraine.
“We wanted Aileen to just get a workout in because she has had some soreness in her knee, so we didn’t want her to push it,” Horstmeyer said. “She still turned in an excellent race. Miranda also battled. She finished strong, and that’s what we like to see.
“It wasn’t the best racing conditions — there was some lingering fog, so it was really humid, and the course was muddy, especially through the woods. This course, even in dry conditions, is deceptively difficult.”
The Cyclones now take a week off to their prepare for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Brooks Invitational on Oct. 19.
“This race is a good way to end the regular season,” Horstmeyer said. “It’s an extremely competitive field on a fast course. It’s a great experience for the kids and a lot of fun.
“The extra week of training gives us a chance to get some of the runners healed up and the others to get a couple of extra hard workouts in.”
All good things must come to an end.
It’s not quite the finale for the Cyclones, but Elgin College halted their undefeated run in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference on Friday. With the Spartans also bringing an unblemished ledger into the match, the conference championship was up for grabs.
Elgin earned it with a 6-3 triumph, but Moraine will get a chance to make amends at the upcoming NJCAA Region IV Tournament.
Collecting wins for the Cyclones were singles players Kelley Grzych (No. 2), Alexa Armon (No. 3) and Tricia Poremba (No. 6). Armon and Poremba both went unbeaten in conference play and were accorded All-ISCC status.
“Taking second in a very competitive conference is nothing for us to shake our heads about,” Moraine coach Nicole Selvaggio said. “Do I think we could have won? Absolutely. We had the win in our hands, [but] this loss does not reflect how close the scores were.
“It is what it is. We got our first and only loss out of the way now before the big region tournament on Friday. We are still in great shape for that.
“I think this loss will make my girls work harder for the win at regionals and appreciate it more. Our focus is on the big prize: nationals.”
Goals from sophomore Lukasz Duda and freshman Leonides Lezama couldn’t keep the Cyclones from suffering a 3-2 loss to Elgin College last Tuesday.
Duda came through again on Saturday, and this time his tally provided the winning margin for Moraine in its 2-1 triumph over Truman College. Jordy Padilla earned an assist on Duda’s goal, while Stagg grad Greg Healy accounted for the Cyclones’ other marker on a penalty kick.
Moraine’s bid for a shutout ended with five minutes remaining, when Truman pushed a soft shot into the Cyclones’ net.
The Cyclones’ early-season struggles have been put in the rearview mirror, as they continued a recent hot streak.
By defeating Daley and Oakton colleges last week, Moraine constructed a three-match win streak and ran its record to 4-1-1 since Sept. 14. During that span, the Cyclones have outscored their foes by a combined 18-5 margin.
Prior to Sept. 14, Moraine was 0-4 and had found itself on the short end of a 26-1 differential in goals.
Part of the improvement can be traced to some positional and tactical moves made by coach Jim Knawa that have re-emphasized team-oriented play. The Cyclones’ defense has grown sturdier, too, thanks to netminder Diana Lozano, Patricia Tuxford, Jill Kossifos and Samantha Reyes.
Moraine was clicking on all cylinders last Monday, as it trounced Daley College 6-0 behind two tallies from Stephanie Aimone, plus one apiece by Leticia Diaz, Maria Gabino, Antonia Zaper and Tuxford. Tuxford, Kathleen Gribbon and Yesenia Galvan were each credited with an assist.
Lozano enjoyed a relatively easy day between the pipes, but managed to stop both shots Daley put on goal.
The winning continued on Wednesday, with Moraine edging Oakton 2-1 in an ISCC match. The victory squared the Cyclones’ conference ledger at 2-2-1.
Zaper booted home both of Moraine’s markers, one of which was set up by Gribbon. Lozano made five saves and has allowed only five goals in the past six matches.
Gabino currently leads the Cyclones with five scores, while Aimone has registered four. Tuxford and Galvin are the top assist people with three apiece.
The Cyclones stayed perfect within the ISCC by downing Elgin College 25-9, 25-12, 25-14 last Tuesday.
Taylor Serrano racked up nine kills, three blocks and a service ace on Moraine’s behalf, while Kara Kentner contributed eight kills, 14 assists, two service aces and a block. Kentner did not commit any hitting errors.
Gina Ryan and Autumn Seiler also pitched in with solid efforts. Both players put down seven kills, and the latter complemented that statistic with four blocks.
The Cyclones added two more wins by beating both Joliet Junior College and Black Hawk East in tri-match on Saturday.
Kentner’s 10 kills, 15 assists, three blocks and three aces were instrumental in Moraine’s 25-17, 25-10, 25-15 triumph over the Wolves. Also contributing to the Cyclones’ first victory were Serrano (eight kills), Ryan (eight), Seiler (eight) and Joanna Curtis (26 assists). Serrano and Alex Bojan combined for six blocks along the net.
A 25-17, 25-15, 25-11 conquest of Black Hawk East was realized because of another balanced Moraine performance. Kentner (nine kills, five blocks, 12 assists, three aces), Seiler (seven kills), Serrano (six kills, nine blocks), Curtis (20 assists) and Sam Newhall (two aces) all pitched in to the Cyclones’ success.