GORCHES: O’Sheas hoping for a family road trip to state
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or firstname.lastname@example.org October 24, 2013 11:10PM
Wheeler's Joel O"Shea crosses the finish line in third place in the Men's Varsity race during the Bob Thomas Invite boys and girls cross country races at Lowell High School on Saturday September 8, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2013 6:44AM
For the second straight year, the O’Shea siblings will be running in the New Prairie Semistate on Saturday.
This time they would love to be headed to the state finals in Terre Haute together as competitors.
Last year, Joel O’Shea finished 14th at New Prairie to advance to state as a freshman, while his sister, Kelly, struggled at semistate with a 67th-place finish.
But with the IHSAA rule change — the top six teams advance to state, as well as the top 10 individuals from non-advancing teams — there’s a better chance that both can be donning their orange and green uniforms next weekend.
Kelly also has experience since this is her fourth time reaching semistate.
“I think it will help a lot,” she said of being at New Prairie the previous three years.
And if that happens, you can bet the majority of their large family will be in Terre Haute to support them.
In fact, the O’Shea family is the modern version of the Brady Bunch, plus one.
Besides Mom and Dad, seven of the nine children are living at their Union Township home. Besides Kelly and Joel, the other five kids under the same roof are fourth-grader Daniel, former Mount Carmel (Chicago) hockey player Tony, former Wheeler quarterback Sam, Michael and Catie. The other two, who don’t live at home, are Charlotte and Maggie.
“I love it,” Joel said of having the large family at home.
He especially loves having a sister in the same sport.
“I like to have her workout with me,” he said. “There’s no rivalry — I look up to her.”
The same could be said of Kelly, even though she’s older. First, Joel is taller at about 6-foot-2. Second, he’s already been to the state finals.
“He definitely pushes me to be better,” Kelly said after the New Prairie Regional on Saturday. “(Joel’s third-place finish) made me run faster. It was a tough race.”
And it will get tougher even though semistate is on the same course the O’Sheas have run a couple times this season and multiple times in the careers. Wheeler always competes in the large New Prairie Invitational earlier in the season. That meet this year was a return of sorts for Joel since it was his second race back from a long layoff due to a leg injury.
“It was tough (coming back), but I prepared well for regional and I’m looking forward to semistate,” he said.
Thanks to the new 10 extra qualifiers, the O’Sheas are just one of several great storylines heading into Saturday’s precursor to the state finals.
Michigan City has a pair of boys competing for the first time in a while — Gavin Gresham and Jacob Adams. LaCrosse’s Nate Rhodes will have a chance to reach state, as will Bryan Flannery of South Central, joining fellow Satellites runner Kyleigh Werner.
Rensselaer (Riley Hickman and Leealison Korniak), Kankakee Valley (Allsion Rockley and Brittany Stepp) and Boone Grove (Sarah Steinhilber and Mariah Rodriguez) each have two runners at semistate.
Merrillville also has two qualifiers (Tamera Julkes and Anna Feliciano), while Andrean has three girls competing for a state spot (Kaycee Crist, Kellyn Vale and Isabella Pradhan). Whiting’s Citlali Lopez and Highland’s Clarissa Magley also qualified.
Bishop Noll’s Sal Cordova has a good shot at reaching state, while Zachary Schreiber is the first Gavit boy to advance to semistate in a while.
Sometimes the IHSAA actually gets a rule change right, and region cross country runners are the beneficiary.