Hinsdale Red Devil-Hornet Invite Sets Off Hot Weekend Of Competition

The Hinsdale Central Boys begin the defense of their 2013 state title on Saturday (Steven Koch photo)

The barometer reading in the Chicago area (where the majority top notch competition will be) is supposed to only reach the mid-70s. This is perfect for a long distance sport such as cross country. A bevy of great meets will be anchored by the Hinsdale Red Devil-Hornet Invitational.

Race schedule:

•    Sophomore Boys:  9:00a- 3miles
•    Frosh-Soph Girls:  9:30a- 3miles
•    Varsity Boys:           10:00a- 3miles
•    Varsity Girls:           10:30a- 3miles
•    Frosh-Soph Boys: 11:00a- 1.93 miles
•    Open Girls:             11:25a- 1.93 miles  

The 34th Annual Hinsdale Invite will once again be contested at beautiful Katherine Legge Memorial Woods on an altered layout. Still, the competition should not be deterred from producing some great team and individual performances. In fact, the fans are going to get a treat similar to an early season state qualifying meet. Perhaps, the IHSA could get rid of regionals and use big invites such as this one and create a point system like the NCAA does (more on that one at a later time).


Key Teams: [3A]- #1 Naperville (Neuqua Valley), #2 Hinsdale Central, #5 Winnetka (New Trier), #8 Naperville North, #14 Palatine, #18 Naperville Central, Minooka; [2A]- #16 Darien (Hinsdale South), #20 Chicago (Latin)

Some alibis may be given by those arm chair quarterbacks on “Monday Morning Finish Line.” But by then it will be too late for excuses in what could go down as a twist of fate. However, remember one thing though, it’s just the first weekend of the regular season.

The top-ranked Neuqua Valley Wildcats go into this affair seeking one thing: get out of Hinsdale alive and well. “We are mostly ready to roll,” said head coach Paul Vandersteen of his charges. “[Senior] Colin Weidman will probably not run - sinus infection. Matt Wolff, one of our top juniors, might not run - quad strain.  First meet of the year... I think the top 4 teams will be within 15-20 points of one another.” This revealing statement could be termed as an alibi by one the state’s all-time best coaches, but he is just being real about his team and pubbing up his foes.

Hinsdale Central on the other hand is the defending state champions with three returners back and more than ready for their season. “This weekend should be a barnburner top to bottom on both the girls and guys side. As with any season opener, we will find out what kind of shape we are in,” offered head coach Jim Wesphal of the overall meet. “Our goal is to put our nose in it and compete. The kids are excited and anxious to finally compete. They know it will be incredibly tough but are really looking forward against many of the top teams in the state this weekend. It should be fun.” So watch out for Blake Evertson (So.), Chris Brenk (Jr.) and company to pack it up early and find the winning formula somewhere in the last mile.

While both Neuqua Valley and Hinsdale Central will stick to their conservative talking guns, don’t expect the likes of New Trier, Palatine, Naperville North and Central, and even upstart and crosstown rival Hinsdale South to stand pat.

New Trier lost some great runners in Peter Cotsirilos and Chase Silverman… and yes it will hurt not having named top frontrunners in the season opener, but an experienced bunch featuring state meet tested runners such as seniors Om Kanwar, Tarek Afifi, and Luke Duros. Coach Dave Wisner indicated all three have battled nagging injuries for a good portion of the summer. The Trevians camp has been tight lipped in recent time so it will be interesting how things shake out on Saturday.

As for Naperville North, the always prepared Huskies will be in it to win it as long as Coach David Racey is in charge. He will roll out a senior dominant line-up featuring Kerry Gschwendtner, Jon Klaiber, Christian Moore, and Andrew LaDeur. The faithful could see a team victory if one or two of the above mix it up with the top 5-10 finishers.

Individually, the race looks strong on paper. Let’s start with Palatine senior Graham Brown. The four-year standout might be beginning his revenge tour after a mentally and physically testing track season. Although Brown rebounded late in the spring and qualified for the state 1600m, he was not in prime shape to run his beloved 3200m at a fever pitched level. Among the core group of runners challenging for the crown will be senior Kyle Cepeda of Wheaton-Warrenville South. As a third wheel to graduated teammates Luke Schroer and Nolan McKenna last year, Cepeda was able to muster 14:55 over three-miles. He also ran in the state 3200m copping a personal best of 9:28.26 along the way.  Also, watch for Neuqua Valley junior Connor Horn lurking in the pack. Horn may be a little antsy after missing the entire 2013 season due to injury.


Key Teams: [3A] #1 Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West), #3 Winnetka (New Trier), #5 Palatine, #6 Hinsdale Central, #7 Naperville Central, #8 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #16 Naperville Neuqua Valley, #18 Minooka; [2A] ##19 Chicago (Latin)

There will be a defending state champion entered in the name of Glenbard West. Coach Paul Hass returns a juggernaut that features six of its top seven. Although the Hilltoppers haven’t competed yet they feel confident about their season opener. “We are overall pleased with the progress so far this season and are looking forward to finally get a chance to compete,” stated Hass. He went on to elaborate that star junior Lindsay Graham (left photo with Mimi Smith) has been sharp in training as well Kathyn Kenwood (Jr.) and Megan Ozog (Sr.). On the flipside, the good comes along the bad sometimes. Hass adds:  “With some setbacks to the training of [senior Lisa Luczak and junior Grace Rogers] this summer, and recently [sophomore] Janie Nabholz (out for two weeks in August with an IT band issue), they have not yet reached their early season potential, yet, based upon the workouts they have posted since their return, each is, amazingly, ahead of their progress at this point last year; needless to say we are very pleased to have them back with us and running and hope to keep them all healthy and improving throughout the season.  It will be a good test to see where our team is at compared to others at this point in the season.”

A deep supporting field could very well steal the shine from Glenbard West. Palatine is one of those teams seeking solice. The Lady Pirates are the defending champions- scoring 59 points and holding off Glenbard West by two points. It seemed like Palatine did not get any respect in the win because Madeline Perez did not compete for the Hilltoppers. But at the end of the day a win is a win. The team win also went on deaf ears to the NXN selection committee for the same reason mentioned earlier. But this is a new year with everything on even terms. Coach Joe Parks’ team is stacked and ready to go with junior Kelly O’Brien leading the charge.

New Trier has to be a team thrown in the mix with senior superstar Mimi Smith back. The Lady Trevians are a deep crew as well with five state meet performers ready to toe the line on Saturday. All that is needed to win is a scoring split around 1:10 when Smith finishes.

Wheaton-Warrenville South will have all seven girls back to compete unless Coach Rob Harvey has someone new in line. Otherwise, sophomore Sara Atkins will lead the way.

Naperville Central has triplets on its roster and if you do the math that’s 60% of the scoring top five. Senior Katie Hoffman will lead the way for her sisters and her “sisters.”

Minooka will anchor the remaining depth of teams along with Neuqua Valley and its standout runner junior Julia Pena.  One would think placing in the top five would be considered an excellent day.

As for the individual race, a state preview featuring Ms. Smith and Ms. Graham along with Hinsdale Central sophomore Alexa Haff will be very interesting. Haff used a late surge in the final 600m to surprise Smith and Graham for the win last year. O’Brien should also be considered a contender for a top 3-5 position here as well. Atkins will be there too.  For depth sake let’s throw in Ashley Tutt (So., Minooka), Abigail Nadler (Sr., Chicago Latin), Amy Kieliszewski (Sr., Palatine), and Anne Zaher (Jr., Hinsdale Central). But of course anyone could emerge out of nowhere such as Haff and become the champion.


Bolingbrook   8                                        Minooka   3

Deerfield (boys only)   21                       Naperville Central   7

Evanston   17                                            Naperville North (boys only) 13

Glenbard West (girls only)   13              Neuqua Valley   16

Highland Park   9                                      New Trier   19

Hinsdale Central   14                               Niles North   6

Hinsdale South   10                                  Niles West (girls only)   21

Homewood Flossmoor   5                      Palatine   12

Latin School   22                                       Stagg (girls only)   20

Marian Catholic   11                                  Wheaton-Warrenville South   15

Metea Valley   18                                       Whitney Young (girls only)   4


The weekend is going to be stocked full of quality meets. Below is a tasty platter of the best the state has to offer. Look for a solid recap of the rest of the weekend Sunday or Monday morning on il.milesplit.com

09/06     Chrisman Cowchip Classic
    Chrisman, IL

09/06  Crystal Lake South Invitational
Crystal Lake South High School
    Crystal Lake, IL

09/06  Galesburg Silver Streak Invitational
Galesburg High School
    Galesburg, IL

09/06    Granite City Invitational
Granite City High School
    Granite City, IL

09/06    Leavey Invitational
St. Charles East High School
    St. Charles, IL

09/06     Lyons Township Invitational
Lyons Township High School
    Lyons Township, IL

09/06   Fenton Early Bird
Fenton High School
Bensonville, IL