The Illiana Christian boys cross country team has a chance to do what no other team in school history has done — win a team state title.
The Vikings, ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll, will compete in the Class 2A state meet at Peoria's Detweiller Park. They are the favorites, but don't forget last year's state champ Chicago Jones is not ready to relinquish its title.
It is also a big weekend for the Washington boys soccer team as it plays Rochester at 1 p.m. today in one semifinal of the Class 2A state finals in Hoffman Estates. It is the first trip to state for the Patriots, though coach Alvaro Perez's has come close a few times.
Both teams look to bring home a state title and both are more than capable of accomplishing that feat.
Illiana was sixth last year, with Tony Wondaal finishing 13th and Nick Fiene 38th. The Vikings bring strong depth. Fiene, Tony Wondaal or his younger brother Nick are all capable of being the top runner, or they can pack and finish together. Colin DeYoung, Austin Gibson, Tom McGuire, Kevin Vroegh and Tom McGuire give the team great depth and any of them can finish in the top five.
Coach Jim Piaskowy and his staff have done a great job and so have the kids. They know they are good, but they never quit pushing themselves. They worked to get better each week, each race and deserve to be in the position they are in. You do not get to their status by luck.
What makes it so great to see this group succeed is that they are great young men and easy-going off the field competition. They had a goal and they let nothing or no one stand in their way.
It should be a great 2A race with Mount Carmel's team also competing with Dan O'Keefe. He was third at the Chicago University Sectional and has been a leader for the Caravan all season. In Class 1A, Beecher could have a strong finish.
Getting back to Washington, this team lost once all year and brings a 13-18 record into today's match. They lost 4-0 to Peoria Notre Dame last year in a super-sectional match. This year's team's lone loss was 4-3 to Libertyville on Sept. 17. Since then, the East Side school is 10-0-6 and has won six in a row including a hard-fought 2-1 double overtime win over Nazareth Academy.
This is a great time for the school that many in Chicago refer to as "the Indiana Chicago public school" because of its close proximity to the state line. Led by Arturo Aupont and Luis Orega's 12 goals, the Patriots want to be in the state title game on Saturday.
It is a great weekend for two local teams in two different sports.