3A Boys Cross Country Team Preview: #30-#16 Plus Unclassified

22. St. Charles (East)

Coach: Chris Boswowth

Last Year’s Finish: 23rd at 3A State

Impact Runners:

Mark Sciurba (Sr.): (14:55,10:10,4:27)

Michael Gerkin (Sr.): (15:16,9:54)

Jack Rzepecki (Sr.): (15:26,4:43,2:02)

Jake Beno (Jr.): (15:54,10:34,4:45)

JB Sandlund (Jr.): (16:47,10:33,4:37,1:59)

Evan Patel (Sr.): (17:13)

Ben Van Acker (Sr.): (16:53)

Rohan Patel (So.): (16:46,10:44,4:52)

Raymond's outlook: The Saints were the fourth qualifier from their own sectional last year; returns 4 of the 7 state meet runners but also all three of their top 3: Mark Sciurba (80th), Jack Rzpecki (101st) and Mike Gerkin (150th). East also returns Jake Beno (204th), 1:56 800 runner JB Sandlund, and has some Class of 2019 firepower expecting to make an impact as well. After graduating just 4 of 22 Sub-5:00 1600 performers last year, Coach Bosworth is excited about the prospects for the team. “This summer has been great. We took our annueal camping trip up to Wisconsin with 40 plus guys attedning. High team goals were set in place: Be ready for racing season: Conference, Regionals, Sectionals and State.” East is a rising program, and if it capitalizes on depth and young talent this fall, could become a top 15 team at the state meet.

21. Crystal Lake (South)

Coach: Rich Eschman

Last Year’s Finish: 10th at Schaumburg Sectional

Impact Runners:

Jack Becker (So.): (15:09,9:28,4:35)

Jon Prus (Jr.): (15:42,10:38,4:26,1:57)

Tommy Melone (Sr.): (15:40,9:58,4:41,2:04)

Doug Cain (Sr.): (15:46,10:54,4:54)

Ryan Foster (So.): (16:35,10:13,4:51)

Alex Foydl (Jr.): (16:54,10:42,4:59)

Miles Foydl (Jr.): (17:20,10:44,5:01)

Tats Daniel (Sr.): (17:06,5:06)

Matt Van Witzenburg (So.): (17:13,10:44,4:56)

Raymond's outlook: Jack Becker’s freshman track season (running 9:28 and 4:35) turned heads and he has proven that he is ready to not only run for an All-State spot at Peoria, but also led a South team that finished a distant 10th at Schaumburg yet returns six varsity runners. Jon Prus (4:26/1:57), Tommy Melone (9:58) and Doug Cain are also returning scorers from the 2014 team which won the tough Fox Valley Conference. After that top four, Ryan Foster, Alex Foydl, Tats Daniel and Matt Van Witzenburg are the top cross returners. Coach Eschman knows the capabilities of his team and the goals reflect as such: “We have a goal of winning the Fox Valley Conference again this year. Last year was only the second time in South High School history that we won the FVC. We also have a goal of qualifying for the state meet as a team. If we can accomplish this, it will be the first time ever for a team for Crystal Lake South High School. This is our ultimate goal and one that the guys are focused on.” If a solid fifth runner steps up for the Gators, they will indeed make school history.

20. Downers Grove (South)

Coach: Brian Caldwell

Last Year’s Finish: 9th at Marist Sectional

Impact Runners:

Jack LaLonde (Sr.): (14:56,9:22,4:21)

Max O’Meara (Sr.): (15:13,9:57,4:30)

Stephen Pipilas (So.): (15:55,9:57,4:34)

Joey Eterno (Sr.): (16:16,10:11,4:47)

Alan Zhou (Sr.): (16:07,10:25,2:12)

Zach Scheffel (Sr.): (16:24,10:40,4:51)

Austin Rutkowski (Sr.): (16:28,10:39,4:54)

Luke LaLonde (So.): (17:59,11:00,4:58)

Eddie Siuda (Fr.): INCOMING

Raymond's outlook: The Downers Grove South team return a strong top seven lineup highlighted by seniors with plenty of varsity experience, but the road to Peoria will be a difficult challenge as the Mustangs look to navigate a sectional that returns the four strongest teams in the state this year. “Despite being in a very deep and talented sectional this fall, we are aiming to claim a spot for the state meet,” says coach Brian Caldwell. “This is something that has eluded Downers Grove (South) for 49-50 years of school history.” Leading the charge towards Peoria will be Jack LaLonde, returning from an impressive track campaign (9:22,4:21). LaLonde will look to improve big-time on his 170th place finish at Detweiller last fall; he should be competing for an All-State spot this season. The Mustangs also have a couple 9:57 3200 runners right behind him: Max O’Meara and Stephen Pipilas (who is just a sophomore).

Providing a new boost to the team this year will be senior Joey Eterno. After setting the school indoor Sophomore 1600 meter record in 2014, he was diagnosed with an iron deficiency and had trouble returning to that previous level. However, he will be running as a scoring athlete this fall. Alan Zhou, Zach Scheffel, Austin Rutkowski and Luke LaLonde will help round out the scoring, along with incoming freshman Eddie Siuda, who finished 17th at the 2014 IESA Cross Country Championships. As the highest rated Western Suburban Conference Gold team in 3A, South shows potential but will also face strong competition throughout the year. “Last year we were WSC Gold co-champs with Morton,” says Coach Caldwell. “Goals for this year and really every year are to win our conference and compete well in the state series. Our conference continues to improve year after year and we certainly will have our hands full to reach that goal. Hinsdale South is one of the best teams in 2A this fall, if not the best, so besting them will certainly be a challenge, but no doubt one we look forward to.” Qualifying for state will be a battle for the Mustangs, but if their seniors and underclassmen can close the gap on the older LaLonde then they will give the southern suburban sectional their best shot.

19. Naperville (Central)

Coach: Dave Ashton

Last Year’s Finish: 17th at 3A State Meet

Impact Runners:

Tommy Chavez (Jr.): (15:19,9:41,4:29)

John Manos (Sr.): (15:23,10:01,4:34)

Josh Toby (Sr.): (15:38,9:52,4:33)

Declan Jensen (Sr.): (16:01,10:29,4:39)

Tyler Hampton (Sr.): (16:05,10:32,5:19)

Neil Mueller (Jr.): (16:07,10:10,4:43)

Will Cornish (Jr.): (16:22,10:52,4:49)

Luke Liu (Sr.): (16:23,10:50,4:58)

Raymond's outlook: Last year’s 17th place team at state suffer a huge loss of their #1 runner from last year (Geoffrey McCollough moved to Georgia), but return three others and will rely on them and a handful of upperclassmen with top 12 varsity experience to take the Hawks back to state in 2015. John Manos (94th), Tommy Chavez (134th, ran 9:41/4:29 in 2015) and Josh Toby (203rd) lead the pack and inject valuable state meet experience into the equation. Coach Dave Ashton tells us about the rest of his pack: “Declan Jensen was our number 8 last year and stepped up nicely when called upon. He has only gotten better. Tyler Hampton will be a significant contributor if he can stay healthy; he was border-line top 7 at the end of the season last fall. Juniors Neil Mueller and Will Cornish are both poised to move into top 7 roles. Seniors Luke Liu, Mark Kouchoukos, and John Laboe are all very capable contributors if they can put it all together and be consistent.” Do not be surprised to see the top 7 of Central vary from week-to-week. This is a team who can rely on depth to develop new varsity runners throughout the season, and this makes a large program like the Hawks dangerous as the season progresses. The uncertainty about the roster entering the season provides interesting challenges, says coach Ashton, but this does not change where the team as its eyes set. “Our program is at a point where we expect to make State every year; however, we aim to become a perennial top 10 type of program. There are some wild cards for us this year, as I would guess is the case with most teams, most years. We don't want to make any specific predictions for the season; we just want to continue to elevate our program in all aspects.”

18. Downers Grove (North)

Coach: John Sipple

Last Year’s Finish: 13th at the 3A State Meet

Impact Runners:

Alec Danner (Jr): (15:06,9:37,4:28)

Ryan Birkmeier (So.): (17:55,10:10,4:38)

Robby Prescott (Sr.): (15:19,9:56)

Tristan Jahn (Jr.): (16:14,10:11,5:00)

Jacob Ridderhoff (So.): (16:18,10:03,4:43)

Andrew Marek (Jr.): (16:38,10:35,4:52)

Brad Wilcoxen (Sr.): (16:30,5:16)

Nick Torres: (17:51,10:29,5:19,2:09)

Raymond's outlook: Downers Grove North was the fourth qualifying team from the powerful Marist sectional in 2014, but finished 13th at the state meet. The Trojans also suffers a lot of turnover from the varsity team, losing four of their state varsity runners including last year’s frontrunner Ryan Clevenger (now at University of Wisconsin-Madison). DGN’s program has remained consistent and strong the last couple years, though, and hope to qualify out of a very top heavy sectional for the third year in a row. Alec Danner (50th) will be the low-stick for his squad, who coincidently is coming off a strong sophomore track season where he ran 9:37 and 4:28. The returning state runners are Robby Prescott (172nd) and Tristan Jahn (205th). After these guys, however, the Trojans will look for more unfamiliar names to help them out. Ryan Birkmeier and Jacob Ridderhoff ran sub-10:10 as freshman and add some young depth to the scoring scene. After these runners there is a dropoff in returning strength and the program will have to dig deep into the depth it has to produce a strong varsity top seven. A couple of the runners who could make a difference are Andrew Marek and Brad Wilcoxen. Competing against some rising teams like crosstown rival Downers Grove South will make qualifying to Peoria difficult this year for the Trojans, but this program has shown us over the last two years that their firepower should not be doubted.

17. Frankfort (Lincoln-Way North)

Coach: Jeff Purdom

Last Year: 25th at 3A State

Impact Runners:

John Chomiak (Sr.): (15:15,9:25,4:27)

Noah Healy (Jr.): (15:45,4:23,2:00)

Demetri Panici (Sr.): (16:00,4:32,1:57)

Michael Trost (So.): (16:03,10:16,4:38)

Mark Harris (Sr.): (16:05,10:25,4:54)

Kyle Bechtod (Sr.): (10:13,4:35)

James Sullivan (Sr.): (16:41,2:02)

Raymond's outlook: Lincoln-Way North is an emerging program with several rapidly improving runners, and this year returns a handful of distance guys with strong track pedigrees who are looking to translate it into the cross country course. John Chomiak (112th) is the team leader this season, and he returns from a strong track year where he went 9:25 and 4:27. Noah Healy (124th) and Demetri Panici (182nd) both ran state-qualifying quality mid-distance times in track last year, and help pack a strong 1-2-3 punch along with Chomiak for the Phoenix. Sophomore Mike Trost (186th) received valuable state experience as a freshman and Mark Harris (201st) is the team’s fifth returner. Lincoln-Way North receives another potential scorer in Kyle Bechtold, who will be running his first year of cross country after a spring with 10:13 and 4:38 performances.

This is a exciting time for these athletes, says Coach Jeff Purdom: “The guys are fired up for XC. We ended the track season on a big high. We qualified a different athlete for state in all of the distance events (3200, 1600, 800, 4x800). They have seen what the big stage looks like and want more of those experiences. Summer training has been going very well. The guys are working really hard from top to bottom. They have really made a commitment to doing the little things right this summer. It has been a fun summer to see them gel as not only a group of runners, but as a family for one another. As always we want to improve upon our performance from the previous year. The goal is always run well in the post season. We finished 2nd at conference, 4th at sectionals, and 25th at state. The guys really want to improve upon those places. They know that we have some great senior leadership this season, and they are bringing everyone else along to reach those goals. It should be a great season.”

Editor's note: Some very unfortunate news about the closing of LWN after the 2015-16 school year. The school district board voted in early August. Here is school closing article

16. Chicago (Jones College Prep)

Coach: Andrew Adelmann

Last Year’s Finish: 8th at Niles West Sectional

Impact Runners:

Nikolas Merten (Sr.): (15:26,10:09,4:39)

Jeremy Adams (Jr.): (15:44,9:57,4:41)

Nico Moreno (Sr.): (15:45,9:56,4:34)

Ethan Barreto (Sr.): (15:49,10:00,4:40)

Zach Benes (Jr.): (16:10,10:05,4:41)

Arthur Santoro (Jr.): (16:24,11:25,4:37)

Eric Wong (Jr.): (16:56,10:30,4:56)

Daniel Garcia-Rico (Jr.): (11:55,4:56)

Matt Byun (Sr.): (17:58,4:47)

Raymond's outlook: The 2012 2A State Cross Country Champions have seen many major expansions to the school in the last couple years and its enrollment has increased dramatically. Therefore, it appears as though Jones College Prep will be in 3A to stay, but Andrew Adelmann’s team has the depth to compete in the jammed Lake Park Sectional this year. “There are a variety of guys that could step up and make an impact, which is a blessing that we have. There has been a lot of improvement in some guys. We had 26 under 5 in track season and a lot of those are back and we have seen those mile times be a great barometer of success for us in the past.” There are no apparent low-stick runners in this roster but there is the potential for a very tight pack which can be sneaky dangerous. Nikolas Merten, Jeremy Adams, Nico Moreno, Ethan Barreto, and Zach Benes all return with 3200 times under 10:10. One of these runners must step up and become a clear frontrunner for Jones if they want to make a strong impression on the rest of the sectional. Coach Adelmann will be focusing on continuing to improve the culture of second-highest ranked CPS team and they will be gunning for a state berth and a city championship. “We feel fortunate that we are in a spot where we are returning some solid runners. Our main goal is just to be a better team and group of people at the end of the season than we were at the beginning. Being together and enjoying each day for what it is will be a priority for us.”