The start of the 2013 IHSA Boys 3A State Championship (Ilona Koziel photo)
"There are so many good teams but not enough time"- a wise quote from a high school historian who proclaimed that when a sport is good there is not enough time to really enjoy it. The upcoming boys large classification may fit that bill. A new star was born last year when Hinsdale Central joined the elite class and won their first state championship going away. This year it should be another great cast of scenarios for us all to follow and enjoy.... strap it up and make the time!
1. Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
Head Coach/coach: Paul Vandersteen
Last year’s finish: 10th
Key returners: Daniel Weiss (Sr.)- 49th, Connor Horn (Jr)- DNR, Michael Widmann (Sr.)- 72nd
Projected top 7: 11-13 guys vying for top 7
Newcomers: Chris Wolak (Jr., transfer from Waubonsie Valley); Austin Kinne (Jr.,transfer from Naperville North)
Coach Vandersteen's Take:
We have had another great summer of training. We never set goals that are based on place, something we cannot control. I can say we have taken a more conservative approach to our training, focusing even more on aerobic development. We may not start the season like past teams, but I expect us to get progressively better as the season unfolds.
Despite the loss of senior Grayson Jenkins who transferred to Carmel, IN, the Wildcats are going to be a very powerful team. This is a team that pack runs with the best in the nation. Connor Horn has returned to the fold healthy and hungry after missing the entire 2013 season to a stress fracture in his foot. He busted the track for 9:39/4:18/1:58 marks which sets him up perfectly for a great season. Daniel Weiss will not be denied either. His three-mile best of 15:06 should get swiss cheezed up at some point during the season. Also watch out for Michael Widmann. He has a personal best of 9:28 on the track and recently ran 15:25 at Detweiller at Dark.
2. Hinsdale Central
Head Coach/coach: Jim Westphal/Noah Lawrence
Last year’s finish: STATE CHAMPION
Key returners: Matt McBrien (Sr.)- 45th, Chris Brenk (Jr.)- 32nd, Blake Evertsen (So.)- 23rd, Alex Domiano (Sr.), Josh Feldman (Sr.), Austin Kleber (Sr.), Andrew Irvine (Jr.), Yuji Cusick (Jr.).
Projected top 7: (all with an opportunity)- McBrien, Brenk, Evertsen, Domiano, Feldman, Kleber, Irvine, Nick Tandle (Sr.), Griffin Gartner (Sr.), Nathan Hill (Jr.), Max Maydanchik (Sr.),Cusick, Matt Tobia (Sr.), Michael Gates (Jr.), Ethan Planson (So.), John Bynan (So.), Jacob Belgrad (So.), Alex Lambert (Sr.), Stefan Rosas (Sr.), Joe Griffin (Sr.).
Newcomers: Tandle, Gartner, Hill, Maydanchik, Gates, Ethan Planson, Bynan, Belgrad, Lambert, Rosas, Griffin.
Coach Wesphal's Take:
Summer training has gone well, fairly uninterrupted, all the kids have been working hard. Season goals are to be competitive within our conference, qualify to state, and aim for a top 5 finish at State. The goal, as always, is to continue to train hard and consistently without injuries and keep all the guys healthy throughout the season.
The loss of the Red Devils top three in Billy Magnesen, Kevin Huang, and TJ Caveney would doom most squads but not Hinsdale Central. Coach Wesphal and company are loaded with troops who have been battled tested and ready for their time to shine. The prodigy Blake Evertson should be ready to take his next step toward stardom. He ran 14:56 last year to open up the eyes of many fans and observers.
3. Orland Park (Sandburg)
Head Coach: John O’Malley
Last year’s finish: State- 7th
Key returners: Tom Brennan (Jr.)- 31st, Greg Burzinski (Sr.)- 48th, Sean Torpy (Jr.)- 53rd, Chris Torpy (Jr.)- 55th, Dan Laskero (Jr.)- 124th, David Gleisner (Sr.), Brandon Lukas (Jr.), Martin Skucas (So.), Max Lehnhardt (Jr.), Brady Walter (Jr.)
Projected top 7: No idea
Newcomers: No newcomers who will impact varsity top 7
Coach O'Malley's Take:
Training has gone well this summer. We are healthy and working hard, but we have a LONG way to go. Really. But we are a blue collar team with a psychotic dedication. This should translate well. The question will be how many guys have the guts to make the leap of faith to the front of the pack of the state. It takes a lot of confidence to be there. I haven’t seen it yet. I am hoping to see it soon.
Neuqua Valley, Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township had some pretty impressive F/S teams last year. Looking at LT’s sub five list is quite impressive—we couldn’t touch that. NV was equally impressive and that was their best F/S team they’ve ever had—that sounds pretty dangerous. HC are the defending champs and the favorite along with NV, New Trier and York. Their F/S team won the Silver Conference title, without the services of some very tough kids running varsity. I didn’t even mention Downers Grove North or Plainfield South or Downers Grove South or a bunch of others yet. DGN will be tough, I guarantee you that.
We just got our rear ends handed to us by NV at the Detweiller in the Dark, so all that leaves me thinking it’s going to be tough to get out of our sectional. We were geared up for that Detweiller race, so it was a good reminder of the level of competition we’ll be seeing. Hopefully we’ll improve.
Our mentality, though, is that we genuinely thrive on this type of competition. We welcome it. We always laugh when we hear the term “Sectional of Death” from other sectionals. We never hear that in our sectional. Truly, our sectional is full of some of the very best teams, but they all love it. That’s a group of champions. I always think that term is for losers—whether it’s the World Cup or a high school cross country state qualifying meet. Shouldn’t you want the best competition? I truy believe the term Sectional of Death is for losers. I look at our sectional more like “Sectional for Living.” It’s about thriving in the world of challenge. All the coaches and athletes feel the same. They don’t bemoan the competition; they thrive on it. Last spring, for instance, we ran a pretty good 4 x 800 time at state and still lost. We didn’t complain—we were honored by our competition. We hope to be racing against the best teams in the history of the state this year. Hopefully we’ll be there to compete with them.
4. Buffalo Grove
Head Coach: Zack Crandall
Assistant coach: Miguel Parra-Garcia
Last year’s finish: State- 13th place
Key returners: Kevin Salvano (Jr.)- 15th, Tom Cleary (Jr.- 74th), Jake Wenzel (Sr.)- 86th, Montana Nimerfroh (Sr.)- 118th, Tripp Wallner (Sr.)- 136th, Eli Hinkle (Sr.)- 103rd
Projected top 7: Salvano, Cleary, Wenzel, Wallner, Arturo Bautista (So.), Hinkle
Newcomers: Evan Schmidt (Jr.), Jack Lenard (Jr.), Bautista, Josh Hellyer (So.), Mitchell Guittar (Fr.)
Coach Crandall's Take:
This is one of the strongest teams in school history. After graduating just one senior from last year’s 13th in the state team, we are looking to finish near the top this year. All of the guys were disappointed that we did not do better at the state meet last year and they have used that disappointment to fuel their work over the off-season. They worked incredibly hard this summer and they are primed to put on a stronger performance at Detweiller this November. One of our goals will be to win the MSL this year. We would also like to win our regional and sectional. Finally, our foremost goal is to finish as one of the top teams in the state. Furthermore, this is a very tight knit group of young men who have run together for many years and who have experience running at the highest levels of competition. I very much look forward to watching them reach their goals this season.
New Trier coach Dave Wisner (dark jacket) standing among the Sandburg HS Crazies" in the backloop at Detweiller (Ilona Koziel photo)
5. Winnetka (New Trier)
Head Coach: Dave Wisner
Last year’s finish: State- 6th place
Key returners: Tarek Afifi (Sr.)- 44th, Luke Duros (Sr.)- 122nd, Om Kanwar (Sr.)- 64th, Josh Rosenkranz (Sr.), Austin Santacruz (Sr.)- 71st
Projected top 7: Rosenkranz, Afifi, Santacruz, Kanwar, Jack Litowitz (Jr.), Duros, Ted Oh (Jr.)
Newcomers: Nick Merrill (Sr.), Josh Greenberg (Sr.), Warren Blood (So.)
Coach Wisner’s Take:
The New Trier Boys’ XC team has the depth and talent to compete for a trophy this fall, but a lot will depend on the health of our top returners and the growth of our younger runners. State meet tested runners such as Om Kanwar, Tarek Afifi, and Luke Duros have battled nagging injuries all summer. Om just resumed training in late July after suffering a Plantar Fascia tear in his foot during the indoor track season. Tarek sustained a high ankle sprain on the first day of summer practice and has trained sporadically during the past seven weeks, and Duros has had chronic Achilles Tendonitis and hip pain. Fortunately, all three of these athletes are training again, and if all goes well should begin their competitive season in mid to late September.
On the positive side, Josh Rosenkranz continues to build on his breakout track season. He has looked fantastic the entire summer and is certainly a candidate for All State honors come November. Talented senior Austin Santacruz had his best summer ever and the hope is that he can match Josh stride for stride on Saturdays. Our dynamic junior duo of Ted Oh and Jack Litowitz had a great summer. Ted ran 1:56 low for 800m and 4:26 for 1600m during track, while Jack ran 1:59 and 4:27. They have added strength this summer and grown in confidence, and both expect to crack our Top 5 by the end of the season. Other Top 7 candidates include: Josh Derrick (Jr.), Josh Greenberg (Sr.), Charlie Maher (Sr.), Nick Merrill (Sr.), and Jack Solon (Sr.).
As always, pack running will be our strength. Just like last year, I imagine our 1 – 7 split will be somewhere around 25 to 30 seconds. If we can pull that off and our first finisher at the state meet is 14:50 or faster, then it should be a great day for the Trevians.
6. Wilmette (Loyola Academy)
Head Coach/coach: Dan Seeburg
Last year’s finish: State- 12th
Key returners: Christian Swenson (Sr.)- 22nd, Jack Carroll (Sr.)- 58th, Spencer Kelly (Sr.)- 60th, Paolo Tiongson (So.)- 133rd, Michael Banks (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Swenson, Carroll, Kelly, Tiongson, Banks, Matt Kadus (So.), David Kelley (Sr.)
Coach Seeburg's Take:
We had a solid summer. A couple guys battled through minor injuries here and there, but overall, a very good summer. Our work was exclusively aerobic training--trail runs, tempo runs, steady-state runs--as well as strength work. The only speed we brought in involved strides and short hill sprints.
We enter the season with ambitious goals. The last time we felt we were this competitive was with the 2009 team (ranked #1 in the nation, state runner-up, 4th at Nike Nationals and only 13 points and three seconds short of a national title).
With three veteran seniors up front, we expect to post some low numbers as long as the next pack runs smart and together. Christian Swenson and Jack Carroll should be among the elite in the state. Spencer Kelly has trouble staying healthy, so keeping him running injury-free will be key. We are excited about the development of three younger guys--junior Patrick Reilly-Heyward, and sophomores Paolo Tiongson and Andrew Niewiarowski. They will be key performers if we are to be a top-ten team. The wild card is senior Michael Banks, who had a breakout season last year, but suffered a stress fracture in the winter and missed the whole of the track season. He is a serious talent who is just starting to show it. The road back from injury will be difficult, but he could be a factor for us. Sophomore Matt Kadus and senior David Kelley are in the mix, as are seniors John Gallagher, John Baker, and Zach Gruber.
We think we should be in the conversation for top ten in the state. We dream about more than that. This group is focused and unified.
Swenson has developed the speed of a miler over the last year to complement his aerobic strength. He now is capable of closing races in the last 300 meters. A very tough, very confident runner who performs best in big races.
Carroll has always possessed the speed, but needed to work on aerobic strength. He looks like a different runner this season. He no longer needs to be coerced into pushing the middle of a workout or race. He leads now, and really knows how to close a race. He will be vying for All-State.
7. Elmhurst (York)
Head Coach/coach: Joe Newton/Jim Hedman
Last year’s finish: State- 5th
Key returners: Matt Plowman (Sr.)- 30th, Max Denning (Jr.)- 56th, Jon May (Jr.)- 76th, Matt Hogan (Sr.), Devin Davies (Jr.), Tommy Devereux (Jr.), Miles Schacht (Sr.), Nathan Dale (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Plowman, Denning, May, Hogan; others
Newcomers: Charlie Kern Jr. (Fr.), Creighton Wolfe (So.), Liam Hill (So.)
Coach Hedman’s Take: This is a team that reminds me of the 1978 team that I ran on. Coming into that year we weren't ranked very high but we worked very hard and ended up winning the state championship and national championship (postal). We are a little short on talent so you see guys moving up as the season goes with this work in progress.
Matt Plowman has a chance to be in the top three but he has to believe in himself more. We had a talk with him at the beginning of the summer and we think he gets it now. The key to our team is Jon May and Nathan Dale- these two guys have so much potential and they are capable of running 15:00. I believe our 5th man should be running 14:58. If that happens we will be in good company.
Tony's Take: The Dukes steamrolled their way through regular season until hitting the wall at sectionals. It was then they incurred a few mysterious illnesses and mental collapses rarely seen from a York team. Just as Coach Hedman believes in his team, I believe the Dukesters are capable of getting all the way back to the top of the food chain.
8. Naperville North
Head Coach: David Racey
Last year’s finish: State- 9th
Key returners: Kerry Gschwendtner (Sr.)- 28th, Jon Klaiber (Sr.)- 62nd, Christian Moore (Sr.)- 94th, Andrew LaDeur (Sr.)- 90th
Projected top 7: Klaiber, Gschwedendtner, Moore, LaDeur, Ryan Drendel (Sr.), Patrick Miga (Sr.), Emerson King (So.)
Newcomers: Emerson King (So.)
Coach Racey's Take:
Great summer training! Dedicated group of seniors. We should have six seniors in the top seven. Klaiber and Gschwedendtner should compete for all state honors. Other seniors will determine our place at state.
9. Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)
Head Coach: Kyle Nugent
Last year’s finish: Lake Park Sectional- 7th
Key returners: Chris Buechner (Sr.), Paul Christian (Sr.), Eric Neumann (Jr.), Ben Hecht (Sr.), Jake Jasowiak (Sr.), Nathan Crail (Sr.), Simon Peterson (Jr.), Colin Griffin (Jr.)
Projected top 7: Buechner, Christian, Neumann, Hecht, Jasowiak, Crail, Peterson, or Griffin
Tony's Take: It was a matter of time before the Hilltoppers would blossom. They started the 2013 season in the emerging stage- not quite ready for the big lights but they were brave enough to finish 7th in a very tough Lake Park Sectional. In track, the 4x800 relay foursome of Hecht, Jasowiak, Crail, and Beuchner finished 10th in 7:50.83. They ran one of the fastest times in IHSA state meet history to not medal. The feeling must have been awful to be so good and so close. Be warned that bitter taste has only prepared them for what is about to come this fall. Glenbard West should be among the top 3 in the WSC Silver championship against the likes of York, Hinsdale Central, Lyons Twp, and Downers Grove North. Christian is the team's top harrier and should lead the Hilltopper's charge.
Head coach/coach: Jon Burnett/Alan Elfrink
Last Year's finish: State- 3rd
Key returners: Severin Blenkush (Sr.), Benjamin Eickmeier (Sr.), Dorrian Gordon (Sr.), Alex Harrison (Jr.), Matt Lloyd (Sr.), Erik McMillan (Sr.), Spencer Phillips (Sr.), Romeo Scagliarini (Sr.), Caleb Walton (Jr.), Logan Whorton (Sr.)
Projected top 7: a combination of those listed above
Newcomers: Severin Blenkush (transfer from Tabb HS in Yorktown, Virginia.). Last season, he placed 12th overall at the Class 4 state cross country finals. In track, he has run under 2:00 and under 4:40.
Coach Burnett's Take: Summer training went well. We have a very tight knit group of seniors. They have been very supportive of each other and the rest of the team.
We return eight athletes with post season experience. Many people will look at us as "Dorrian & Company". We like to think "& Company" is darn good.
When it comes to Conference, Regional, and Sectional, once again, we will be doing battle with a much improved Edwardsville team who returns All-State Brydon Groves-Scott along with a strong supporting cast.
11. LaGrange (Lyons Township)
Head Coach: Michael Danner
Last year’s finish: State- 4th
Projected top 12 runners for 2014 LT Cross Country per Coach Danner:
Connor Madell (Jr.) (had a great spring, ran outstanding last fall at NXR in the open race would have been with our #5 varsity)
Vince Arata (Sr.) (made our top 7 in 2013 and ran at state meet, was injured at the start of outdoor and was shut down to cross train and get ready for the summer. Has had a full summer of training. Ran in the 15:40’s at Detweiller at Dark.)
Keefe Mulligan (Sr.) (gained some experience running in our top 7 in 2013, has had the best summer training wise out of the entire group.)
Zach Szczesniak (Sr.) (has made the biggest improvement over the last year, is up near the front everyday in training.)
Alex Lima (Sr.) (ran well enough to be in our top 7 last year, missed the bus for 2 meets and held out. Ran in the 15:30’s on our course in 2013 and ran 15:31 at Detweiller at Dark in 2014.)
Jake Langan (Sr.) (has had some varsity experience and is looking good)
Vance Smith (Sr.) (was one of the top JV runners last year, has upped his training. Focused on distance events in track last season, in the past was a pole vaulter. Has made a big improvement.)
Vince Zona (So.) (had a great frosh year and has had a great summer of training.)
Rafael Linares (Sr.) (has avoided injuries and is up with the top guys on a daily basis.)
Ben Gathrop (Sr.) (made big improvement in the spring ran 1:58 on the 4x8 at State. Has the talent to be in our top 7.)
Max Olson (Sr.) (Is more of long distance runner and the training suites him.)
Matt Begeman (Jr.) (Plays lacrosse and has dealt with injuries from lacrosse. Was our #2 soph. in 2013. Has done more training in 2014 than last year)
2014 team is similar in ability to teams or the past couple of years, just lacking some big meet experience. I would expect our Seniors to run well and some Sophs to challenge late in the season to make the top 7.
12. Chicago (St. Ignatius)
Head Coach: Ed Ernst
Last year’s finish: State- 16th
Key returners: Dan Santino (Jr.)- 81st, Andy Weber (Sr.)- 83rd, Kallin Khan (Sr.)- 181st, Brian Santino (Sr.)- 174th, John Lennon (Sr.), Dante Domenella (Sr.), Sean Freeman (Sr.)
Projected top 7: D. Santino, Weber, Khan, B. Santino, Lennon
Newcomers: Vince Lewis (Jr.), Joe Amoruso (So.), Brett Haffner (Fr.), Sean Mooney (Fr.), Patrick Hogan (Fr.)
Coach Ernst’s Take: We held a regular summer camp at school for the first time ever, under the direction of assistant coach Nate McPherson, and it was a tremendous success. Our team put in more miles in "McPherson camp" than they ever did on their individual summer programs. We expect this to pay off in a big way in terms of depth and improvement.
Santino, Weber, and Khan should make us as strong as almost anyone in the top three positions. All three expect to run sub-15:00. You can't do it if you don't expect to do it. Can we complete the team with a few more guys under 15:30? That will be the big question.
Tony's Take: It is amazing that this team finished 16th and two of its top runners placed 207th and 215th out of 216 runners. Khan finished next to last amid a fandom of courtesy fan claps. Let's bet that he is in the running for all-state this year. He ran 4:33/9:51 on the track to prove he is no joke.
13. Downers Grove North
Head Coach/coach: John Sipple, Assistants - Jill Blondell, Eric Buhot, Justin Ashton, and Will Kupisch
Last year’s finish: State Runner-up
Key returners: Ryan Clevenger (Sr.)- 5th, Jack Diamond (Sr.)- 151st, Zac Christensen (Sr.)- 92nd
Projected top 7: Clevenger, Diamond, Christensen, Joe Carter (Sr.), Bruce Tamlin (Sr.), Jack McGinnis (Sr.), Alec Danner (So.),
Newcomers: No new transfers; Danner really emerged last year as as freshman, Drew Pyburn (So), Brad Wilcoxen (Jr), and Nick Torres (Jr)
Coach Sipple's Take: Summer training has been going well so far and the team is pretty healthy. The team has high goals and wants to continue to compete at a very high level. They are looking to not just qualify for the state meet but to continue to make some noise down there!
Head Coach: Chris Quick
Last year’s finish: 14th at 3A IHSA State, 2nd at MSL Conference, 1st at IHSA Regional, 3rd at IHSA Sectional
Key returners: Graham Brown (Sr.)- 8th, Brian Leonard (So.)-189th (only the fifth Palatine freshman to ever run at state)
Projected top 7: Graham Brown (Sr), Brian Leonard (Soph), Zack Michael (Jr), Dan Trejo (Jr), Nate Izewski (Soph), Dean Roehrborn (Sr), Ryan Kissane (Sr)
Newcomers: Justin Zambrano (Jr), Koby Theobald (Jr), Memo Quillo (Jr), Ben Kontney (Soph)
Coach Quick's Take:
We are a young team working to gain experience behind one of the state’s best front-runners. Graham Brown has been on the Palatine varsity all four years and is coming off an 8th place finish last year as a junior. He had mono during the entire track season so he will fly a bit under the bar established by the top trio of seniors – Jesse Reiser, Zach Dale, and Ryan Clevenger. He hopes to rejoin that top group and will see them on an almost weekly basis this fall.
Behind Brown, we have a lot of young talent, but no one who is proven on the varsity level. The boys have put in another incredible summer of training and made a ton of progress. We just don’t know how far they have come so that makes the coming season exciting. Expectations remain high and we hope to finish in the top ten at state and compete for our conference title again.
Much will depend on the trip of Leonard, Izewski, and Michael who are all coming off great F/S track seasons. If those three mature and stay healthy, we can be quite a force. We will pull depth from an incredibly deep junior class and hope to surprise some people who will count us out on paper.
15. New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central)
Head Coach/coach: John Taylor
Last year’s finish: 18th at State
Key returners: Tommy Kolacki (Sr.), Ian Peterson (Jr.), Andrew Robbins (Sr.), Jackson Waters (Sr.), Ryan Barry (Jr.), Ben Alvarado (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Kolacki, Peterson, Hutchinson, Robbins, Waters, Barry, Alvarado
Newcomers: Zak Hutchinson (Fr.); he won the 8th grade State mile in 4:39
Coach Taylor's Take: The 2014 Running Knights will reload very quickly after losing three Seniors from our Top 7 last year. Tommy Kolacki, Ian Peterson, Andrew Robbins, and Jackson Waters all have experience racing at State and with freshman standout Zak Hutchinson and Junior Ryan Barry improving and moving into our Top 7, the Knights will be prepared to return to Peoria this year.
16. Chicago Jones College Prep
Head Coach/coach: Andrew Adelmann, Ben Mahon
Last year’s finish: 4th- Class 2A
Key returners: In addition to the guys list below - So. Zach Benes (4:53/17:20 as freshman), Sr. David (4:51) Salmi, Jr. Stephen Kruto (4:45)
Projected top 7: Markiyan Protsiv, Will Sarchet, Kyle Maloney, Tony Solis, Nikolas Merten. 6th and 7th spots will be a true battle between a group of guys (Jeremy Adams - 4:41/16:20 as freshman, Arthur Santoro - 4:41 as freshman, Nico Moreno - 15:58 as sophomore, Alex Behle - 4:39/16:20 as sophomore, Ethan Barreto - 4:44-16:45 as sophomore)
Newcomers: We don't have any specific major newcomers, but our freshmen class that came to camp so far over the summer is around twelve guys, and we'll hope to get more out once official practice starts as usual. This group, so far, is highlighted by Jeremy Brown, Sylas Cooper and Eric Arredondo.
Coach Adelman's Take:
Our summer training has been pretty routine in terms of what we expect our of our guys. It's a process and the guys know that it's important to not rush things or get caught up in the summer and early season hype that seems to get bigger every season. They know what they are supposed to do every day in order to be ready for August and then again in November. We averaged about 30 guys again all 25 days of camp.
Our goals are not very outcome oriented. We got away from that a few years ago and have focused on process goals instead. Obviously our aim is to run the best we can when it matters most in November, but we look at that more as a standard that we will always expect in our program as opposed to a renewable goal.
Last year we hurt ourselves by focusing too much on what we needed to do at the end of the year instead of looking at each guy's development individually. As a result we ignored some problems that we should have addressed sooner. It caught up to us at Detweiller and we unfortunately fell off the podium over the final 1600m.
We are still proud of what we did last year though and feel that we have made some big strides as a program if we are at the point where a fourth place finish is a "bad year" for us. Considering who we lost from our state title team, to regroup with a lot of young guys and just fall short is nothing to be ashamed of. However, we are also very glad that last year is behind us. It was a tough 12 months filled with a lot of obstacles.
We are excited to be in 3A. Despite the challenge of being such a small team, we are also kind of fueled by it. I am really excited with the energy and recommitment that this group of guys is bringing every day. Our seniors have really opened up and have shown how much they care about their legacy and getting back to our core values. We are also fortunate where we return a lot of firepower. We didn't lose anyone in our top 15 guys except Schaible and Kevin Johnson. We have 6 sub-16 guys coming back, another at 16:02 and 2 more at 16:20 to name a few, so the competition should be tough to make our top group.
Grant von der lippe's fans wait in anticipation for the Hersey HS standout
17. Arlington Heights (Hersey)
Head Coach: Jay Renaud
Last year’s finish: State- 11th
Key returners: David Rodriguez (Sr.)- 13th, Grant von der Lippe (Sr.)- 78th, Kevin Ziegenhorn (Sr.)- 141st, Josh Plischke (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Rodriguez, von der Lippe, Ziegenhorn, Plischke, Jacob Krupa (So.), Seth Harden (Sr.), Sam Svienty (So.), or Dan Gerardi (Jr.).
Newcomers: Quinn Cunningham (Fr.), James Tanaglia (Sr.)
Coach Renaud’s Take: Training this summer has gone great. We took a more progressive route this summer as the team last year ran their best a few weeks too soon. I'm really happy with where we are at right now. Our guys are putting in really good quality mileage. Our top seniors run 65-75 miles a week of real quality stuff. It’s been great.
Our goals this year are to repeat as MSL East, Conference, Regional, and Sectional champions. It has become the expectation. We want to qualify for state and run our best race of the season at Detweiller, something that we didn't do last year. Based upon a 2-mile time trial we did on our last day of camp in July, our top 4 is better this year than last. Our biggest question mark is who will fill the role of our #5 runner. So far sophomore Jacob Krupa has emerged as that guy. That's probably something that could change a bit throughout the season as we have a slew of guys that could challenge for the spot.
18. Naperville Central
Head Coach: Dave Ashton
Last year’s finish: State- 24th
Key returners: Scott Hicks (Sr.)- 120th, Jeffery McCullough (Jr.)- 173rd, Kevin Wandke (Sr.)- 166th, John Manos (Jr.), Josh Toby (Jr.), David Kennedy (Sr.), John Laboe (Jr.), Neil Mueller (So.)
Projected top 7: Hicks, McCullough, Wandke, Manos, Toby, Kennedy, Laboe, or Mueller
Newcomers: none of note
Coach Ashton's Take:
We are returning all who did not graduate from last year. It’s a very Junior/ Sophomore heavy team, which bodes well for the future. Early time trials suggest a much better team than last year, our top 8 running ahead of our #1 last year. We’ve had a large group training at a more intense level all summer and ready to compete. This season we are looking to be in the top half of the teams at State or better and to continue moving the program forward. In general the boys were displeased with last year’s performance at state, but we have targeted our weaknesses over the last year and are ready to elevate our status at the state meet. Scott Hicks, Jeffery McCullough, Kevin Wandke, John Manos, Josh Toby, David Kennedy, John Laboe and Neil Mueller look to be our front runners this season with several more hot on their heels. It should be our best season yet under this coaching staff.
Head Coach: Matt Kaplan
Last year’s finish: 11th place- Waubonsie Valley Sectional
Key returners: Keagan Smith (Jr.), Seth Conroy (Jr.), Mike Grocholski (Jr.), Matt Kapolnek (So.), Elijah Green (Sr.) Rafael Rivera (So.)
Projected top 7: Smith, Conroy, Grocholski, Kapolnek, Green, Hollman, Rivera
Newcomers: Zach Hollman (Jr.), Joey Ozzauto (Fr.)
Coach Kaplan's Take : This season looks to be promising for our team. We return our entire top 5 from last season led by Keagan Smith who earned all-state honors last year. The boys have had a good summer together and look to have another successful season. Smith, Conroy, and Grocholski will be the boys to keep an eye on this year. This past spring in track Smith ran 9:25/4:21, Conroy ran 9:25/4:28, Grocholski ran 9:43/4:34. Our goal for the season is to reach the state meet as a team for the first time in school history. Our team will take it one meet at a time and if we can stay healthy we should be very competitive this year.
Head Coach/coach: George Patrylak
Last year’s finish: State- 17th
Key returners: Brydon Groves-Scott (Sr.)- 17th, Wes Schoenthal (Sr.)- 50th, Ethan Townzen (Jr.)- 75th, Zain Pyarali (Sr.), Joe Shannon (Sr.), Hunter Hessler (Sr.), Connor Dunaway (Sr.), Jack Lever (Sr.), Nick Aramowicz (Jr.)
Projected top 7: Groves-Scott, Schoenthal, Townzen, Pyarali, Shannon, Hessler, Dunaway,, Lever, Aramowicz, or Swanson
Newcomers: Matt Swanson (Fr.)
Coach Partrylak's Take:
As far as our boy's team is concerned, this group has the opportunity to be one of the best teams in school history. The only thing holding us back is a little depth and that single digit point scored at State.
We lost two key members due to graduation in Iain Perry and James Mayfield. We did not get an move in or transfer students that will have an immediate impact on our team.
We return five athletes who competed on our 17th place team last year. We are led by Brydon Groves-Scott, our only returning all-state runner. Brydon was also able to qualify for state in the 3200 this Spring, even after enduring a severe ankle sprain that kept him out for over two weeks. Following Brydon will be Wes Schoenthal. Wes had a great Spring, being a surprised finalist in the 800 state finals. Wes has a chip on his shoulder after finishing 11th. Maybe the key to our season is Ethan Townzen. Ethan is dealing with some difficulties from a major growth spurt this Spring. Talent wise, Ethan is more than capable of being our number 1 man, but his training is behind. If healthy, all three of these athletes have the ability to go sub 15:00 at Detweiler. After the front three, we are hoping for seniors Zain Pyarali and Joe Shannon to be at or under 15:40. Zain was under 10:00 in the 3200 and Joe has been our most improved runner during the past calendar year.
Our top seven should be competed with a combination of seniors Hunter Hessler, Connor Dunaway, and Jack Lever, junior Nick Aramowicz, or freshman Matt Swanson. Matt is our top freshman and has worked hard this summer. A top seven spot is very likely for him by year's end!
Overall our summer training has gone well. Collectively our runners are well ahead of where they were last summer. We have a tight group that has one goal in mind, a top ten finish in the Fall. If this team stays healthy and Townzen is ready, this team has the ability to do it!
Head Coach: Bronco Meeks- 1st year
Last year’s finish: State- 23rd
Key returners: Ryan Wieties (Sr.)- 102nd, Patrick Redmond (Sr.)- 115th, David Morrison (Sr.)- 153rd, Shea Bastian (Jr.)
Projected top 7: Morrison, Wieties, Bastian, Redmond, Keaton Keller (So.), Zach Choffin (Jr.), Quinn O’Brien (So.)
Newcomers: Choffin, Keller, O’Brien, Jimmy Roach (Jr.), Sean Adams (Fr.), Jack Gillerlain (Fr.)
Coach Meek’s Take: We have a solid top 4 and are looking for a few guys to step up and solidify themselves on the remaining varsity spots. David Morrison comes off a fantastic track season where he ran 9:27 and was a state qualifier. David struggled with injuries his junior cross country season and it should be interesting to see what he can do when healthy.
Ryan Wieties brings tremendous leadership to our team and also came off a solid track season running 1:55 in the 800 and also qualifying for state.
Patrick Redmond and Shea Bastian are coming off the best summer training of their career. Both young men have shown tremendous growth and we are very excited to see what the fall season brings them both.
Team goals this year include winning the first varsity conference title in team history. Winning the frosh/soph conference title and returning to Peoria and improving on our 2013 state finish.
22. Lake Zurich
Head Coach: JB Hanson
Last year’s finish: State- 20th
Key returners: Matt Pereira (So.), Justin Shim (Sr.), Matt Milner (Jr.)- ran at state. Mark Spatz (Sr.) was sick for state last year but was varsity for us most of last year.
Projected top 7: the 4 guys mentioned above, plus any combination of Patrick Burns (Fr.), Brian Griffith (So.), Kyle Griffith (So.), Kyle Fitzgerald (So.), Nate Quinn (Jr.)
Newcomers: Patrick Burns is one of the top 5 freshman I have ever coached (7th at IESA state last fall), and will likely find his way to the varsity by season’s end. Brian Griffith did not run cross country last fall, but showed his talent on the track (2:03.x split).
Coach JB's Take: Our goals are always the same: extend our dual meet streak (currently at 42, dating back to 2007), win the NSC title, qualify for state, and run our best race at state. We have a talented group but are young. We could count on as many as 5 freshman/sophomores by season’s end. To put in perspective, we have only had 5 sophomores compete at the varsity level in the last 5 years total. As a result, we will take some lumps early, but will come on strong as the season progresses.
Pereira is as good as they come, and despite his great track season, most people don’t know how good he really is. Other than him, the rest of our team is virtually unknown. We hope to change that. Summer outlook: Milner is just coming back from a stress reaction which he developed in late June, but the rest of the varsity is healthy. Our seniors Shim and Spatz are training at a very high level and have provided great leadership to our younger runners. Those two are very fit and are going to have great seasons this fall.
Head Coach: Tom Root
Last year’s finish: 7th- Schaumburg Sectional
Key returners: Konrad Eiring (Sr.), Ben Laning (Sr.), Kyle Monahan (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Konrad Eiring, Ben Laning, Kyle Monahan, Alex Maher, Tate Fisher, Andy Gensburg, Kurtis Monahan
Newcomers: Tate Fisher, Andy Gensburg (Sr.)
Coach Root’s Take: Our coaching staff and training philosophies will stay relatively the same [despite the resignation of Ty Gorman], but a fresh outlook on how we have approached our training has put more ownership into the runners' hands and given them a fresh outlook on how they are working to achieve their goals. The guys have stayed as healthy as one can hope while pushing themselves to new heights and are eager to test their legs and spirits when they gear up to race in just a couple short weeks.
Tony's Take: Has Barrington switched to a middle-distance heavy program built for track as evidenced by two straight top five finishes in the state championship 4x800 relay? For example, Konrad Eirling is much better than the 15:12/4:30 marks he has put up. While it was true the Broncos got hit with sickness late last season, they have underperformed too. They have above average runners and should be back in Peoria this November.
24. Park Ridge (Maine South)
Head Coach: Greg Nordahl
Last year’s finish: Lake Park Sectional- 6th
Key returners: Henry Mierzwa (Sr.), Paul D'Ambrosia (Sr.), Brian Sodaro (Jr.), Ben Steffen (Sr.), Aiden Gaskin (Sr.), Ralph Patejunas (Jr.)
Projected top 7: Mierzwa, D'Ambrosia, Sodaro, Steffen, Gaskin
Tony's Take: This fall should be another outstanding year for the Hawks as they gained some great experience over the course of 12 months. Maine South fell just short of advancing to state (8 points) in a rebuilding year. This time around veteran runners Henry Mierzwa and Paul D'Ambrosia will lead a strong team. Mierzwa ran alongside former teammate Jack Carpenter and then established his own identity. He is a candidate for all-state honors this year (15:21 last year at state). Mierzwa's teammate Ralph Patejunas add on to make a great trio. The only ingredients left are the fourth and fifth men.
25. St. Charles East
Head Coach: Chris Bosworth
Last year’s finish: Waubonsie Valley Sectional- 7th
Key returners: Mark Sciurba (Jr.), Mike Gerkin (Jr.), Will Muckian (Sr.), Jack Rzepecki (Jr.), Carter Frey (Jr.), Mike Skora (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Sciurba, Gerkin. Skora, Rzepecki; others
Tony's Take: The Saints have a solid cross country tradition over its history but haven't made the state cut since it moved to three classes in 2007. The drought may finally come to an end for the Upstate 8 Conference crew. Coach Bosworth indicated that his team is poised and ready to tie the Detweiller starting line in November. The upperclassmen dominant team finished 7th in the Waubonsie Valley Sectional last year. They also return 5 starters off of that team. Mark Sciurba,who ran 15:26 last year, will lead the way for the Saints this season.
26. Chicago Whitney Young
Head Coach: Billy Poole-Harris
Last year’s finish: Niles West Sectional- 16th
Key returners: Kevin Ma (Sr.), Sam Wischnesky (Jr.), Keduse Worku (So.), Evan Radomski (So.), Charles Sandberg (Jr.), Jason Sebek (Jr.), Ryan Wangman (Jr.), Mark Harvey (So.), William Szkwarek (So.), Steve Ngo (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Ma, Wischnesky, Worku, Sandberg, Sebek, Wangman, Radomski,
Newcomers: Clayton Mendez (Fr.)
Coach Poole-Harris’ Take: The Dolphins come into the season determined to break into the competitive running scene. We have always had one or two outstanding individuals but this year we have been fortunate to have several runners that have great talent. Furthermore, they are all motivated to be great! The Dolphins believe they have started a culture that will be a perfect recipe for success.
Season goals: The Running Dolphins are looking to make the trip down to Detweiller Park this November.
Tony's Take: The Dolphins have stockpiled some young great talent over the past several years and it appears as though the yearlings are ready to released into the wilderness. Coach Poole-Harris has done a great job in harnessing his crop. Watch out for Keduse Worku, Sam Wischnesky, and Evan Radomski. They were low 10-minute two-mile performers a season ago. Kevin Ma is the speedster among the group with his great middle-distance exploits (1:56 for 800m). It's time Dolphins... it's time!
There is nothing like an Illinois State XC Championship finish!
27. Hoffman Estates (Conant)
Head Coach: John Powers
Last year’s finish: State- 21st
Key returners: Zach Dale (Sr.)- 3rd, James Janczy (Sr.)- 113th, Shujaat Sultan (Sr.)-125th, Chris Serrano (Jr.)- 138th, Dominic DeMore (Sr.)- 165, Joel Almodovar (Sr.)- 167th
Projected top 7: Dale, Janczy, Sultan, Serrano, DeMore, Almodovar; others
Tony's Take: With 6 of the top 7 men back from an MSL battle tested and state qualifying team, the Cougars have an argument to be placed higher. But it's the log jam of more improved teams over the past 12 months that keep them at bay in the meantime. The great Zach Dale is going to go out and do whatever he wants to course records this season. But keep this in perspective: he only counts as one point.
28. Wheaton North
Head Coach: Nate Roe
Last year’s finish: State- 22nd
Key returners: Danny Steeno (Sr.)- 130th, Kilty Askin (Sr.)- 162nd, Alex Frank (Jr.)- 171st, Ryan Kocher (Jr.)- 173rd
Projected top 7: Tough to say who our top 7 will be right now, but these four are definitely in the mix, along with Seniors Will Thomas and Bradley Dowell, and Juniors Matthew Beckerman, Jordan Hennings, Danny Bailey, and Ryan Almer.
Coach Roe’s Take: We've had a solid, consistent summer of training with over 60 guys coming on a regular basis. Although we graduate experience, we expect to maintain a tradition of excellence. It's our school's 50th anniversary and we'd love to make it a special year. I expect that our early season will involve a few growing pains, but we'll be ready for DVC and the postseason when they arrive. They guys have strong goals and the work ethic to match.
29. Chicago Lane Tech
Head Coach/coach: Kris Roof/Tony Jones
Last year’s finish: State- 15th
Key returners: Pavlo Hutsalyuk (Sr.)- 43rd, Christian Badillo (Sr.)- 164th, Luis Ramirez (Sr.), Jorge Villanueva (Sr.)
Projected top 7: Hutsalyuk, Badillo, Ramirez, Villanueva, Pedro Fernandez (Jr.), Marc Hill (Jr.), ?
Tony's Take: It's going to be incredibly difficult to match what last year's team did. The Indians were one of Illinois' best teams until the final mile of the state championship. Even so, the graduation losses coupled by a suspect f/s and jv feeder system will keep Lane Tech in fight or flight mode all season. However, Lane has Pavlo Hutsalyuk- one of the state's best all-around talents to rally around. They will need that hope and more if they want to make it back to Peoria for the fourth straight year.
30. Wheaton-Warrenville South
Head Coach/coach: Greta Havey
Last year’s finish: State- 8th
Key returners: Kyle Cepeda (Sr.)- 26th, Gabe Lightbody (Sr.)- 127th, Jack Havey (Sr.), JT Moscardini (Sr.), Alexi Sorokin (So.)
Projected top 7: Cepeda, Lightbody, Havey, Moscardini, Sorokin, ?
Tony's Take: The Tigers will be in big time rebuilding mode with graduation losses of Nolan McKenna, Luke Schroer and David Dillon. Kyle Cepeda is the chief building block back. He will led an inexperienced group through his personal exploits this season.