Head Coach: Olivia Morris
2016 Finish: 9th- Elmwood Sectional
Key returners: Kyle Johnson (Jr.), Eli Steinbeck (Jr.), Connor Standish (Jr.), Drake Taylor (So.), Alex Heinold (Jr.), Jack Cook (So.)
Tony's Take: You can call it nerves or you could it call it youth that prompted the Hornets to miss out on a trip to state. After all they were one of the top teams in the state who beat many of the big party dancers during the season. Coach Morris returns a good and now experienced bunch who will be motivated to return to their righteous spot on the Detweiller starting line in November.
Head Coach: Tony Cork
2016 Finish: 7th- State Championship
Key returners: Lukas Baird (Sr), Kobe Lorance (Sr), Wyatt Bonnell (Jr), Trayton Tragesser (Jr), Zach Buttolph (So), Maverick Wright (So), Koty Amdahl (So); Lukas and Kobe were top 2 last season
Projected top 7: see above
Newcomers: we have 5 freshmen but none likely to be top 5
Coach Cork's thoughts on team: If we are healthy and work extremely hard, we could approach last
year's level of performance; two of the top 7 have had injuries this summer and one of the top
two runners haven't not run with the team this summer.
18. Clifton (Central)
Head Coach: David Ladehoff
2016 Finish: 6th- Lisle Sectional
Key returners: Jeremy Snejberg (Jr.), Isaiah Ditta (So.), Trevor Swanson (So.), Blake Stua (So.), Travis Felchlia (Jr.), Caleb Kent (Jr.), Jarod Snejberg (So.)
Tony's Take: Here is another solid team that whose good season success was stopped by youth at the sectional round. The entire top seven that consisted of four freshmen and three sophomores easily won the Kankakee McNamara Regional over eventual state qualifier Peotone. The 1:19 scoring split at regionals ballooned to 2:17 for the sectional round. This is what cost the Comets a trip to state.
Head Coach: Dave Remmert
2016 Finish: 7th- Effingham (St. Anthony) Sectional
Key returners: Alex Helmuth (Sr.), Garrett Dixon (Jr.), Eric Tate (Sr.), Ethan Bright (Jr.), J.C. Wilkin (Sr.), Keegan Davis (Jr.), David Alexander (Jr.)
Tony's Take: More was expected from this team that slipped out of the top 10 near the end of the season last year. Despite top man Alex Helmuth's low stick at sectionals, the Sages could only muster a 7th place finish at sectionals which ended a once promising year. It appears on paper there could be another run inside the top 10 with all seven runners returning. Helmuth placed 6th in state last year and is a top 3 candidate. If he can get some help the trophy whispers may be heard aloud.
Head Coach: William Benner
2016 Finish: 19th- State Championship
Key returners: Peyton Walker (Sr.), Joey Uthe (So.), Andrew Grzeskowiak (Jr.), Nick Stefinsky (Sr.), Dereck Walker (So.)
Tony's Take: It was a surprise to see the Blue Devils get inside the Saucony team rankings last year, but it was a bigger surprise in them finishing 19th at the state meet. With the graduation loss of its top two runners Zach Crocker and Will Gaskin, it will be a challenge to move into the top 10. But there are five guys with big meet experience returning which should help matters.
Head Coach: Ryan Bruns
2016 final finish: 15th- State Championship
Key returners: Grant Batteau (Sr.), Garrett Johnson (Sr.), Dustin Bartnicki (Sr.), Liam Oliver (Jr.)
Projected top 7: Previous four runners along with Grant Jausel, Noah Conner, ?
Newcomers: Daniel Garavaglia, James Robb, Tent Morgenstern, and Reid Keene
Coach Brun's thoughts: Looking forward to a fun fall. We have had a decent summer,
and I hope our experience will pay off.
14. Chillicothe (Illinois Valley Central)
Head coach/assistant coach: Dennis Fraikes/Kristy Jones
2016 Final Finish: 13th- State Championship
Key Returners: Owen Habeger- 24th in the state last year running 15:33, #2 Jordan Gerberding 50th in the state running 15:57, #4 Elias Bergman 16:49 as freshman.
Top 7: Habeger, Gerberding and Bergman; after that still undetermined
Newcomers: Freshman Collin Eisenbarth was a sub 5:00 min miler in junior high as well as a sub 18 min 3 miler
Coach Fraikes' comments: if we stay health hope to qualify for state meet and make a run at a top 10 finish.
Head Coach: Charles Helton
Last year's Finish: 18th- State Championship
Key returners: Samuel Mock (Sr.), Bailey Lippold (Jr.), Jason Landon (Sr.), Charles Helton IV (Sr.), Grayson Armour (Sr.), Cale Williams (So.), Briley Roper (So.)
Tony's Take: Expect to see Jason Landon improve mightily in cross country this season. The all-state 800m runner has yet to have that outstanding cross country season despite running a solid 15:30. Jason has an opportunity to approach or even surpass his older brother Cory's 14:56/6th place state meet placement from 2015. The team could be real good and maybe even be a top 10 factor with all seven runners returning.
Head Coach: Mike Lynn
Last year's finish: 6th- Elmwood Sectional
Key returners: Leland Sumer (So.), Austin Shafer (Jr.), Jesse Pflederer (Sr.), Dalton Petro (Jr.), Andrew Hellrigel (Jr.), Sebastian Martin (Sr.)
Tony's Take: Being in the state's deepest sectional could have a silver lining for the then #8 Turks who finished 6th at the Elmwood Sectional. The 5th placement team, El Paso-Gridley, went on to place 9th at state. The Turks will be stronger this season because of the battle scars as they return six of their top seven scorers. Leland Sumer returns as the top man and he earned a trip to state with a 54th place finish. Look for this team to once again be among the elite in the classification all season.
11. El Paso-Gridley
Head Coach: Michael Melick
Last year's finish: 12th- State Championship
Key returners: Noah Smith (11) Bo Halvorsen (11) Matt Ingalsbe (10) Will Bushert (11) Jordan Shelton (10) Zac Nelson (10)
Newcomers: Mason Ringger (9) Nathan DeMarb (9) Sebastian Meyer (9)
Projected Top 7: Bo Halvorsen (11), Noah Smith (11), Matt Ingalsbe (10), Will Bushert (11), Zac Nelson (10), Jordan Shelton (10), Nathan DeMarb (9), Mason Ringger (9)
Coach Melick's Outlook: After graduating my senior leadership as well as my #1 and #2 in Andy and Adam, we will have to have a good year to return to Detweiller in November. We will have only one senior on our team (Jeb Uphoff) unless Brendan Loftus decides to come back out. Our juniors (Bo, Noah, and Will) made big gains in track last spring, so it will be exciting to see how those gains held up or were improved upon over summer. I've been a pretty poor coach this summer, I've barely used my contact days, so I'm as excited as you are to see what these kids are capable of this fall. As always, the key is to find that good fifth man. If your five can get in the low 16's, you are a good team. My five right now has a PR of 17:52, so we have some work to do.