Class A Boys State Cross Country Championship Preview

Monticello is aiming to win a state title after finishing 3rd last year (Beth Schied photo)
Date: 11/8/14
Location: Detweiller Park; Peoria, IL
Course: 3.0 miles
Race time: 10am
Awards Ceremony: 12pm
Media: follow the race and meet action via Illinois Prepster's twitter @ilptt; follow the hastag #ihsaxcstate14
The key qualifying teams: #1 Elmwood-Brimfield, #2 Monticello, #3 Rockford (Christian), #4 Tolono (Unity), #5 Shelbyville, #6 Winnebago, #7 Rochester, #8 Sterling (Newman Catholic), #9 St. Joseph Ogden, #10 Johnsburg, #11 Freeburg, #12 Pleasant Plains, #13 Stanford (Olympia), #14 Urbana (University), #15 El-Paso Gridley, #16 Galva, #17 Westmont, #18 Nashville, #19 Sparta, #20 Beecher
Opening remarks: Honestly, this seems like any team’s race between the top ten. Are there teams that seem more favorable than others? Definitely yes. But it stands to reason that a lot of the teams here can beat another team on a good day, and conversely get beaten on a bad day. It will come down to the team that is able to peak best, and the rankings reflect the teams (including a really obvious one) that are either known to peak best and/or are teams that have garnered much experience and should prepare themselves to run how they need to in this crucial weekend.
Meet the key teams:
Head Coach: Gregg Meyers
2013 state finish: State Champions
Pre-season rank: #1
Final season rank: #1
Probable starting lineup: Matt Osmulski (Jr.), Nate Herridge (Sr.), Derek McCoy (So.), Kelly Hoffmann (Sr.), John Barratt (So.), Tyler Meyers (Sr.), Kelby Barnewolt (So.)
Road to state: Farmington Regional-1st, Elmwood Sectional-1st
Outlook: This is the team that some say is the favorite every time of the week, until state. Although they do not necessarily display their potential all season, the Trojans peak specifically for state, and train through most meets earlier in the season. Historically, we have seen this training plan done very successfully, and this kind of thing has to be factored in when ranking Elmwood. As of sectionals, their top four are all under 16 in a course that generally runs slower than Detweiller. Their fifth man Barrat has been getting his time down after mostly running JV and fresh/soph races. It’s pretty safe to say that he, along with the team, will be where he needs to be at state.
Head Coach: David Remmert
2013 state finish: 3rd
Pre-season rank: #3
Final season rank: #2
Probable starting lineup: Matt Norvell (Sr.), Zach Mesplay (Jr.), Justin Furcich (Sr.), James Kilby (Jr.), Will Montgomery (Sr.), Alex Helmuth (Fr.), Logan Peters (Jr.)
Road to state: St. Thomas More Regional-1st, Decatur Sectional-1st
Outlook: I ranked them high in the preseason on the assumption that they will find a fifth man, and boy have I not been disappointed. Not only have they come up with a good fifth runner, but their sixth runner is good as well. With a couple exceptions, Monticello has come on strong in the heat of the central Illinois competition, and has emerged victorious in northern Illinois matchups, including Elmwood. Hence Monticello is a reliable second pick, and some would argue the favorite.
Rockford (Christian)
Head Coach: Randy Moore
2013 state finish: 13th
Pre-season rank: #4
Final season rank: #3
Probable starting lineup: Nick Monkemeyer (Jr.), Ethan Volk (Jr.), Noah Wells (So.), Josiah Vogel (Fr.), Steven Reierson (Sr.), Lukas Marshall (Jr.), Alex Wilfong (Sr.)
Road to state: Winnebago Regional-1st, Oregon Sectional-1st 
Outlook: Going into the season, while their depth is high in their whole top seven, the Royal Lions have received criticism for having a pack that is too far away from their leader Monkemeyer. As of sectionals (and other races), they have addressed well to this criticism and currently have their pack within 45 seconds of their top runner. And even better, their 2-5 pack is only 13 seconds. Their sub 17 times at Oregon may perhaps translate into mostly sub 16 times at Detweiller. In any case, they are one of the top contenders and could definitely possibly win.
Tolono (Unity)
Head Coach: Dike Stirret
2013 state finish: 5th
Pre-season rank: #2
Final season rank: #4
Probable starting lineup: Andrew Warnes (Jr.), Getch Eisenmenger (Jr.), Austin Woodard (Jr.), Dawson Dodds (Jr.), Robert Decker (Jr.), Nathan Seiler (So.), Luke Woods (Fr.)
Road to state: St. Thomas More Regional-2nd, Decatur Sectional-3rd
Outlook: Clearly the Rockets did not run to their complete potential at Sectionals, but that is not to say that they couldn’t pull it off at state. However they race the earlier season, Stirret typically has the boys ready at the start line of the final race. This year should be no exception.
Head Coach: Kevin Kramer
2013 state finish: 4th
Pre-season rank: #5
Final season rank: #5
Probable starting lineup: Marcus Skinner (Jr.), Kenton Wilson (Sr.), Tyler Pasley (So.), Ryan Skowronski (Fr.), Jordan Sieger (So.), Preston Henze (Jr.), Trey Wade (Sr.)
Road to state: Carlinville Regional-1st, Decatur Sectional-2nd
Outlook: Shelbyville has done more or less what I’ve expected them to, considering that they often have the history of being underlooked and then surprising. Maybe the rams will trophy, maybe they won’t. But one way or another, they’re pretty reliable at finishing in the top five at state.
Head Coach: Janet Erb
2013 state finish: State runner up
Pre-season rank: #8
Final season rank: #6
Probable starting lineup: Nathan Smith (Sr.), Nathan Ambrose (Sr.), Christian Devant (Sr.), Skyler Ooyen (Sr.), Cole Ellis (Sr.), Jack Doyle (So.), Dylan Pavlak (Fr.)
Road to state: Winnebago Regional-2nd, Oregon Sectional-2nd
Outlook: Had some fifth runner gap problems, but that is more or less under control at this point. And if anything, they have better pack advantage than most northern Illinois teams besides Rockford. And their 1-2 punch of Smith and Ambrose will be deadly if they both crack at all-state, and could bode real well for them in terms of scoring.
Head Coach: Bill Owens
2013 state finish: 9th
Pre-season rank: #6
Final season rank: #7
Probable starting lineup: Michael Gleason (Sr.), John Freveletti (Sr.), Joe Santarelli (So.), Austin Mitchell (Jr.), Colin Biesiada (Sr.), Josh Cable (Fr.), Riley McKneelen (Fr.)
Road to state: Quincy Regional-1st, Elmwood Sectional-2nd
Outlook: Their expectations opened high for this preseason as they were expected to get some standout freshman. Due to soccer commitment, their freshman contribution was not as amazing as one would hope. But despite their smaller numbers this season, the Rockets are coming through nicely and look to race this Saturday with a pretty solid pack.
Sterling (Newman Catholic)
Head Coach: Patrick Warkins
2013 state finish: 14th
Pre-season rank: #11
Final season rank: #8
Probable starting lineup: Drew Rosengren (Sr.), Bryson Reyes (Sr.), Quincy Coomes (Sr.), Chris Ahlers (So.), Ethan Nash (Jr.), Brady Osborne (So.), Quentin Larson (Fr.)
Road to state: Rock Falls Regional-1st, Oregon Sectional-4th
Outlook: After going first place in the Rock Falls regional, they clearly had a bit of a downer race at sectionals with their front runners not quite where they usually are. Good news is their fifth man seems to be where he should be and everybody seems healthy. The flying comets could be a major surprise factor coming into this race, as their top four have historically posted some really good times.
St. Joseph-Ogden
Head Coach: Jason Retz
2013 state finish: 8th
Pre-season rank: #7
Final season rank: #9
Probable starting lineup: Brennan Guido (Jr.), Austin Earp (Jr.), Ross Smetzer (Jr.), Justin Phillips (So.), Gabe Lyons (Jr.), Nick Poff (Sr.), Nate Phillips (Jr.)
Road to state: St. Thomas More Regional-3rd, Decatur Sectional-4th
Outlook: The Spartans started the season a bit slow with Earp not running. But now everybody is running and it’s just a matter of getting the best race out of everybody. If they do that, they could really turn some heads!
Head Coach: Chris Setzler
2013 state finish: n/a
Pre-season rank: NR
Final season rank: #10
Probable starting lineup: Matt Stelmasek (Jr.), Noah Miller (Sr.), Dominic Miraldi (Jr.), Jake Grimes (Sr.), Tim Bertulis (Fr.), Nash Miller (Sr.), Jack Pocklington (Sr.)
Road to state: Winnebago Regional-3rd, Oregon Sectional-3rd
Outlook: Really made a statement at First to Finish, but now seem to be falling a bit behind northern Illinois competition. But by no means should the Skyhawks been underestimated, as their top four have really shown to be legit. before It is trying to get the fifth man right up with the pack that has been the main difficulty as of late in the season. They could most definitely pull it off at Detweiller!
Head Coach: Carl Florczyk
2013 state finish: 17th
Pre-season rank: NR
Final season rank: #11
Probable starting lineup: Alex Mack (So.), Charlie Parrish (Fr.), Drew Wilkerson (So.), Jonathan Kraus (Jr.), Cole Schwaegel (Sr.), Patrick Kramper (Sr.), Evan Aud (Sr.)
Road to state: Freeburg Regional-1st, Edwardsville Sectional-1st
Outlook: The emergence of their pack I didn’t see coming in the preseason. But like last year, they have come through nicely and won a lot of their team races through their amazing pack. Depending on how low front runner contributors like Kraus and Mack get in placing, a top ten finish could definitely be in the Midgets’ grasps.
Pleasant Plains
Head Coach: Derek Debarr
2013 state finish: 7th
Pre-season rank: #10
Final season rank: #12
Probable starting lineup: Tyler Johnson (Jr.), David Plunkett (Jr.), Seth Owens (Sr.), Connor Riddle (Sr.), Adam Ely (Jr.), Liam Bradley (Fr.), Jordan Verhulst (Jr.)
Road to state: Quincy Regional-2nd, Elmwood Sectional-3rd
Outlook: The Cardinals look pretty good with Johnson as a very solid front runner and the pack being pretty good. Pleasant Plains has made noise before and could certainly do so again.
Stanford (Olympia)
Head Coach: Mike Neisler
2013 state finish: 15th
Pre-season rank: NR
Final season rank: #13
Probable starting lineup: Connor Stine (Sr.), Dallas Spencer (Jr.), Cody Cheeseman (Jr.), Liam O'Rourke (Jr.), Kyle Rader (So.), Chance Cook (Jr.), Isaac Riegler (Fr.)
Road to state: Farmington Regional-3rd, Elmwood Sectional-4th
Outlook: Olympia was pretty under-radar early in the season, but they found the pack and put it together at just the right time in both Regionals and now Sectionals. At state they should be within the top 15.
Urbana (University)
Head Coach: Doug Mynatt
2013 state finish: 11th
Pre-season rank: NR
Final season rank: #14
Probable starting lineup: Marshall Allston-Yeagle (Jr.), Justin Wang (Jr.), Ansel Higgs (Sr.), Jack Zeiders (Jr.), Grant Allen (Fr.), Isaac Freund (So.), Timmy Purnell (So.)
Road to state: St. Thomas More Regional-5th, Decatur Sectional-5th
Outlook: Out of all the contending teams to make it out of Decatur, I did not expect Uni. But now that they have, I am not all too surprised considering their ability to peak well at these crucial times. It’s official. The Illineks will be another great pack to watch for in this race.
El-Paso Gridley
Head Coach: Michael Melick
2013 state finish: 12th
Pre-season rank: NR
Final season rank: #15
Probable starting lineup: Hunter Cobbley (Jr.), Andy Layden (So.), Adam Ludy (So.), Ryan Filkins (Jr.), Brendan Loftus (Fr.), Shelby Heffron (Jr.), Nathaniel Schug (Jr.)
Road to state: Farmington Regional-4th, Elmwood Sectional-5th
Outlook: With a solid top three, the Titans have the kind of ingredients needed for a solid state showing. But an equal amount of pressure will be on the fourth and fifth runners to really flirt more with the low 17’s come this weekend.
Head Coach: Valerie Furrow
2013 state finish: n/a
Pre-season rank: NR
Final season rank: #16
Probable starting lineup: Ethan Stanley (Sr.), Bryent VanDeWostine (Sr.), Mike Bersell (Jr.), Isaac Williamson (So.), Tyler Johnson (So.), Kyle Campagna (So.), Chris North (Sr.)
Road to state: Rock Falls Regional-3rd, Oregon Sectional-5th
Outlook: We have yet another under-radar team that crashed the party at sectionals. Galva is endowed with an impressive top two, and a pretty nice pack as well. Looks as though they’ll hold their own pretty nicely against other top 15 teams.
Head Coach: Steve Wolf
2013 state finish: n/a
Pre-season rank: NR
Final season rank: #17
Probable starting lineup: Nick Dea (Sr.), Anthony Alessi (Sr.), Mitch Perrotta (Sr.), Tony Cordero (Sr.), Jake Juska (Fr.), Sam Asa (So.)
Road to state: Aurora Regional-3rd, Lisle Sectional-1st
Outlook: The Sentinels could really make some noise with the kind of top three that they have. Expect an even better finish should one of their fourth or fifth guys run a good race.
Head Coach: Jean Orr
2013 state finish: 23rd
Pre-season rank: #20
Final season rank: #18
Probable starting lineup: Brandon Schnitker (Fr.), Jordan Love (Sr.), Jackson Pierce (Jr.), Caleb Zgonina (Fr.), Ryan Kell (Jr.), Patrick Neill (Sr.), John Schroeder (Jr.)
Road to state: Chester Regional-2nd, Edwardsville Sectional-2nd
Outlook: The Hornets have emerged second in Edwardsville sectional, have 28 second pack, and finally have their freshman Schnitker stepping up to the occasion as a solid front runner. He could very possibly be the X-factor that really causes this team to make some serious noise this year.
Head Coach: Darren Latham
2013 state finish: 18th
Pre-season rank: #19
Final season rank: #19
Probable starting lineup: Dylan Huether (Sr.), Trevor Buckner (Jr.), Jordan Lee (So.), Cameron Martin (Fr.), Tra Edmondson (Sr.), Hunter Schulein (Fr.), Drew Byington (So.)
Road to state: Chester Regional-1st, Edwardsville Sectional-3rd
Outlook: Sparta has spent much of its season in search of a good top five. And as of late season, the Bulldogs have definitely found their rhythm. Expect Huether to place low at state and contribute well with a couple low points.
Head Coach: Adam Depew
2013 state finish: 23rd
Pre-season rank: #16
Final season rank: #20
Probable starting lineup: Nathan Swanson (Jr.), Josh Nehmer (Jr.), Adam Swanson (Fr.), Garret Toohey (Sr.), Pat Barton (Sr.), Mark Peters (Sr.), Mitch Darabaris (Sr.)
Road to state: Kankakee Regional-1st, Lisle Sectional-3rd
Outlook: Although Beecher doesn’t always show it, the Bobcats really do have a pack and could bring a lot of surprise to this race.