Every great team must have its showstopper. For the Sandburg Eagles, it was Trent Anderson who came through consistently
More often than not cross country coaches will look to the back end of the scoring members of the team. The good ones know their team is only as good as the finisher. In Trent Anderson's case, he became a classic fifth runner on a team that was incredibly good through its first four starters. Head Coach John O'Malley was incredibly grateful for the junior's contributions day in day out because Sandburg was not as deep as in past championship years.
The pre-season 3A top-ranked Eagles competed confidently but at the same time with a tremendous amount of pressure. Right away it was evident that there was a glaring issue at the sixth runner position. With the gap between fifth and sixth being up to a minute on several occasions, it was important to score as low as possible and close the race with an air-tight finisher.
Anderson did his job admirably whether it was in the fourth or fifth position. This strong suit enabled Sandburg to dominate every time out with a scoring split well under 1:00.
Anderson ran a personal best 15:09 at the Peoria Invitational and this appeared to solidify his team as the heavy favorite to win the state championship as the post-season neared.
At the regional and sectional round, Anderson did his job by closing out team wins with 15:13 and 16:02 clockings.
Finally, the state championship is where the mettle test would begin. It was a semi-tight affair at the Hinsdale Central with only a 15 point win. Some pundits believed that Sandburg could be defeated in a bigger and deeper vacuum. Even if the top four runners race their best, the fifth runner must come through. No exceptions.
As it turned out the Eagles put three scorers inside the top 20 and the fourth in the 41st position. Anderson closed it out with a 49th slot (15:16). The Eagles scored 130 points and finished ahead of Hinsdale Central 175 and Downers Grove North 179. Had there been a slippage in the sport's most important spot, there is a chance that Sandburg could have lost the state championship.
Congrats to Trent Anderson on his award!