The stampede of the mighty 3A division should be deeper than ever this season. Here are the opening ranked teams:
25. Carpentersville (Dundee-Crown)
Head Coach: Jake Tappia
Last year's finish: 12th- Waukegan Sectional
Key Returners: Anthony Hurgoi (Sr.), Daniel Price (Sr.)
Mark Jensen (Jr.)
Joseph DeVita (Sr.)
Lucas Janikowski (Jr.)
Kyle Wizgird (Jr.)
Outlook: This may be the best team in the Fox Valley Conference which is in the far reaches of the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The leader is the emerging Anthony Hurgoi who finished 41st last year at state. Hurgoi would go on to have a stellar track season in which he dropped a personal best 9:21.59 in the 3200m. The Chargers return six of their top seven runners from a year ago and with a solid scoring punch they could be a dangerous team.
Head Coach: Tom Root
Last year's finish: 7th- Waukegan Sectional
Key returners: Nick Laning (Jr.), Greg VanHollen (So.), Jack Deweerdt (So.), James Lyon (So.)
Outlook: Led by Nick Lanning, Barrington is a strong contender for state this year. This team came on strong last year, finishing 7th at the Waukegan sectional. The Bronchos return four of the top five, and they welcome in a group of talented youngsters who could make the step up.
23. St. Charles East
Head Coach: Chris Bosworth
Last year's finish: 11th- State Championship
Key returners: Aidan King (So.), Cole Adresso (Sr.), Campbell Koch (Sr.)
Outlook: The Saints were hit hard by graduation that included mainstays Jake Beno, Anthony Zilla, and JB Sandlund. While losing guys like this could cripple a team's progress, the Saints return a trio of solid leadership and good reserve depth.
Head Coach: Bob Thomson
Last year's finish: 15th- State Championship
Key returners: Josh Rodgers (Jr.)
Ryan Kredell (Jr.)
Cole Montgomery (Sr.)
Geneva, had a strong finish last year with a top 15 finish. They are losing some strong runners, but they have a strong three returning. If they can replace the seniors, they have a good shot at making it down state again.
Head Coach: Jon Burnett
Last year's finish: 21st- State Championship
Key returners: Will VanAlstine (Jr.), Hayden Ybarra (Sr.), Matthew Gilster (Sr.), Lucas Capistrant (Sr.), Garrett Blenkush (Sr.)
Outlook: The loss of the top two which included 800m state champion Chris Conrad (now at U of Missouri) will be felt. However, the return of five state qualifiers will give a warm feeling to O'Fallon cross country fans. Depth and team play will be the keys to success this season. Watch for the Panthers to battle rival Edwardsville and Minooka for the sectional crown in late October.