Matt Pereira of Lake Zurich (Colin Boyle photo)
When one era comes to an end another one emerges. Three season ago we saw a young sophomore Jesse Reiser (McHenry) come on to the scene and finish 7th. Reiser would eventually go on to win several state titles (xc, track) and collect a few more All-American plaques. Now, the time is for someone else to pick up the pieces and run away with it. Could that someone be Matt Pereira, Charlie Kern Jr., Clayton Mendez? There are more than a few names to consider in a field loaded with talent. Let's take a look inside:
Top Returning Individuals
Jr., Lake Zurich (H.S)
3rd at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:22)
3nd at 2014 3A Schaumburg XC Sectional
8th at 2014 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:12 / 4:16 / 1:57
The top returner this in 3A this fall has had injury issues this summer and will be working through the beginning of this season making his way back from injury. After a volatile track season where he missed most of regular season competition due to personal reasons, Pereira qualified for the 1600 individually but failed to qualify for the finals--still, he brought home an All-State medal with the 9th place 4x800 Lake Zurich relay. Although Pereira will continue to have hurdles to overcome recovering this fall, he will be a strong contender this fall.
Sr., Buffalo Grove (H.S.)
5th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:27)
20th at 2013 3A Cross Country State
8th at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
20th at 2015 Arcadia (CA) 3200
4th at 2014 NXN Midwest
30th at 2014 Nike Cross Nationals
Track Bests: 9:04 / 4:19
Kevin Salvano will try to become a 3-time All-State athlete in cross country this year, and one of the most consistent distance runners over the past three years has proven that if healthy, he can be depended on by his team for a low-stick that would get him an all-state spot. Salvano's best distance mark is a 9:04 3200 performance out at Arcadia last April. Salvano will be challenged throughout the season by strong competition in the northern part of the state and he will surely come to the state championship battle tested and ready to compete for an individual championship.
So, Elmhurst (York)
8th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:36)
2nd at 2014 Niles West XC Sectional
13th at 2014 NXN Midwest
Track Bests: 9:28 / 4:18 / 1:57
This year Charlie Kern will be the powerhouse York's all everything leader as a sophomore and last cross country season he displayed he has the mettle to keep up with some of the strongest upper class runners, finishing in 8th at the state meet and then showing off a wide competitive range in multiple distances in the spring. Kern will no longer be a surprise this year and will be a favorite in most of the races he runs, including the Western Suburban Conference Silver meet (along with a couple other strong returners). The younger Kern has been thrown into a position where he must mature quickly, but he will make the adjustment well and be a contender in 2015.
Sr., Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
7th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:36)
3rd at 2014 Chicago Marist XC Sectional
4th at 2015 3200 State Final
15th at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
Track Bests: 9:12 / 4:18 / 1:58
Connor Horn finally ran a healthy cross country campaign and ended it with a 7th place finish at Detweiller. In 2015 he is now the leader of a very strong Neuqua Valley squad and knows what it takes to continue to succeed. "Connor Horn followed his All-State performance with a very strong Track season," says Coach Paul Vandersteen, "and is as steady a performer as we've ever coached." Being an example of dedicated training has been and important contribution to his team for Connor this summer. Individually, he has is very dangerous and can make a strong impact in the race fo the individual title. Horn ran a 4:18.83 full mile at Arcadia and has split faster than his 800m multiple times for the Wildcats 4x800m relay team so his foot speed is a real weapon. Horn will be looking to go out strong his senior year.
9th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:37)
16th at 2013 3A Cross Country State
1st at 2014 St. Charles XC Regional
8th at 2015 1600 State Final
Track Bests: 9:20 / 4:10 / 2:01
Smith emerged onto the Illinois cross country season as a freshman back in 2012, and finished 63rd at the state meet that year, 16th at the next, and then 9th the most recent year. He will hope to improve on this mark and lead a strong Huntley team that could be competing for a podium spot. Smith showed this last spring that he has some serious wheels as well, running under 4:20 for 1600 seven times in 2015, highlighted by a blazing 4:10.70 personal best set at the Guilford Track sectional. Smith has plenty of competition from young runners in 2A and 3A from the Fox Valley Conference as well and individuals on his own team. Look for him to try to defend his sectional XC title and fight for a possible individual state championship.
Jr., Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)
11th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:39)
2nd at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:06 / 4:20 / 1:56
Loud made waves at the state track meet last year by running a courageous 3200 race from the front and kept close to state champion Jesse Reiser until the final lap. Loud employs a run-hard-from-the-gun running strategy in every race he runs. Earlier in his career, he was very vulnerable in the later stages of the race but now a more mature Loud has shown that this testing racing philsophy can be very effective. Watch for sunglasses and an orange pack at the front of the pack in postseason races! That will be loud pushing the limits early and often in his races. Loud alone makes any race he competes in exciting--get ready to be excited often throughout the course of this season.
Jr., Hinsdale (Central)
12th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:40)
29th at 2013 3A Cross Country State
2nd at 2014 Chicago Marist XC Sectional
14th at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:14 / 4:20
One of Hinsdale Central's two returning All-State runners is the third returning junior in 3A (in a very strong class) and has finished in the top 30 at cross country state both of his first two years. We refer to Blake Evertsen, of course--one of the top runners in the Western Suburban Conference Silver. Evertsen is now an upperclassman with the experience of a slightly disappointing state track meet in 2015, and new motivation to help his team win its third consecutive state championship. The best way to help would be to score a 1 at the state meet, which is not out of the question for Evertsen. He surely will be aiming for a state individual title.
Sr., LaGrange (Lyons Township)
15th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:42)
2nd at 2015 Detweiller at Dark
5th at 2015 1600 Prospect Wanner Knights Invite
Track Bests: 4:14 / 1:55
Lyons Township traditionally runs with strong pack teams and mighty depth, but in 2015 they will look to senior Connor Madell to be their frontrunner. Madell's track season was highlighted by a 4:14.88 1600 finish at the Wanner Knights Invite, and a second place finish at the postseason Magnificent Miles. The fourth returning senior also has 1:55 800 speed and is a potent cross country race finisher. Madell finished second at the Detweiller at Dark race this past summer and came across in 14:56. If he can progress his fitness consistently throughout the season, look for Madell to compete for a top 5 spot in 3A this season.
Sr., Gurnee (Warren Township)
17th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:47)
141st at 2013 3A Cross Country State
6th at 2014 Schaumburg XC Sectional
3rd at 2015 3200 Illinois Top Times
13th at 2015 3200 State Final
Track Best: 9:22 / 4:22
Macuiba, the ninth returner in 3A Boys XC this year had a fantastic summer and hopes to qualify for state for the third time and earn his second all-state spot. He will be challenged throughout the season by some stiff competition within the top of the North Suburban Conference, but the NSC's third returner is healthy and focused and he will be sharpened by the competition. He will be competing for a top 10 place.
Sr., Hinsdale (Central)
25th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:50, Detweiller Best 14:48)
43rd at 2013 3A Cross Country State
4th at 2014 West Suburban Silver Conference Meet
Track Bests: 9:36 / 4:35
The top returning #2 runner on a team is Chris Brenk, and he is the final All-State medalist from last year's track meet. Brenk has been a huge part of the two-time defending state champion Red Devil team and this year, Brenk has the capability to help by running for a top ten spot at the state track meet. Along with Evertsen, Brenk is half of what could be the strongest 1-2 punch in 3A Boy's Cross Country.
Sr., Orland Park (Sandburg)
31st at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:54, Detweiller Best 14:49)
42nd at 2013 3A Cross Country State
149th at 2012 3A Cross Country State
Track Bests: 9:43 / 4:20
The top returner of several Sandburg entries on this list is Tom Brennan. Brennan has run at the 3A State Cross Country meet all three years of his high school career and he will be running for his first ever All-State honor. We may be distracted from Brennan's individual achievements because Sandburg will be looking to place many runners in the front of their races in 2015 but he should be able to compete for a top ten individual spot at state, as well as a Southwest Suburban Conference title.
Jr., LaGrange (Lyons Township)
35th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:58)
Track Bests: 4:20 / 1:59
Vince Zona ran the best race of his season last year at state last year and was the second scorer for the third place Lyons Township team as a sophomore. Zona also was a part of the 7:43.08 4x800 LT team which finished second in the state finals in May. These big-race experiences, along with Zona's 1600 best of 4:20.96 at the Wanner Knights Invitational (where he finished eighth), show that the junior is ready to run at a high level, contribute to LT's bid for another trophy spot, as well as a possible All-State individual honor.
Jr., Palos Heights (Shepard)
36th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (14:59)
1st at 2014 Sandburg XC Regional
Track Bests: 9:36 / 4:33
Caleb Washington has flown relatively under the radar after finishing 36th at XC state last year in 14:59, the fifth-fastest returner in the class of 2017. After improving consistently throughout the course of his first two years at Shepard, Washginton has his goals set. "We are hoping he continues his development and can accomplish his goal of being All State in the ever so challenging state of Illinois," says Coach Troy Walker about his prospects. Don't be surprised when you hear Washington's name a few more times in the coming years.
Sr., Orland Park (Sandburg)
38th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:00, Detweiller Best 14:58)
72nd at 2013 3A Cross Country State
37th at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
115th at 2014 Nike Cross Nationals
Track Bests: 9:32 / 4:15 / 1:53
Torpy will be looking to qualify for his third consecutive state meet and will be running for a team state title with the Eagles but will also be running for an all-state spot for himself as well. Torpy finished fourth in the 800 at the 2015 3A State track meet so his mid distance wheels are top notch. Look out for the pack effect to have a positive influence on Torpy's training, he says. "It's nice to train with a lot of guys who are pretty much equal to each other physically. It makes practice more challenging when we have other guys to push us constantly."
Sr., Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)
39th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:01)
133rd at 2012 3A Cross Country State
33rd at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:35 / 4:35
Last year, Neumann was one of a strong 1-2-3 punch for the Hilltoppers that led West to a surprise fifth place finish at the state meet. Now Neumann is the lead runner for the Hilltoppers and will be looking for his best finish ever at the cross country state meet, which could be as high as a top 15 finish. Neumann could also be a dark horse to compete for a high place at the Lake Park sectional this year.
Sr., Orland Park (Sandburg)
42nd at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:02, Detweiller Best 14:53)
70th at 2013 3A Cross Country State
25th at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
113th at 2014 Nike Cross Nationals
1st at 2015 Mile Magnificent Miles
1st at 2015 1600 US Army Midwest Distance Classic
Track Bests: 9:19 / 4:09 / 1:56
Sean Torpy is one of the leaders of this year's Sandburg powerhouse and he returns with the best personal bests in the 3200 and the 1600, which includes a 4:09 1600 which won the US Army Midwest Distance Classic on June 13. He also had a heavy duty schedule at the track state championships, qualifying for the 1600 final and helping the Eagles win the 3200 meter relay. Torpy's track performance indicates that if a Sandburg runner breaks from the pack to challenge for a top 5 spot at Peoria, it will mostly likely be him.
Jr., Orland Park (Sandburg)
45th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:05)
77th at 2014 NXN Midwest
127th at Nike Cross Nationals
Track Bests: 9:45 / 4:25
Skucas is a vital member of Sandburg's pack this year, and is the top returning junior on the team. Despite being the likely fourth or fifth scorer for Sandburg, he is the 17th retuner in XC this year and will be running for an All-State spot at Detweiller. His track season's high was a 4:25.70 relatively early in the season at the Bob Cohoon Invite in April.
Jr., Downers Grove (North)
50th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:06)
40th at 2013 NXN Midwest Regional
92nd at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
25th at 2015 3A 3200 Boys State Final
Track Bests: 9:37 / 4:28
Now that Ryan Clevenger has graduated, Alec Danner is the likely frontrunner for Downers Grove North. Danner has a top 50 spot to his name at Detweiller as a sophomore and is a strong candidate to be All-State this year as a junior. Watch for Danner to have a big year this year.
Sr., Orland Park (Sandburg)
53rd at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:08, Detweiller best 15:00)
Track Bests: 9:38 / 4:39
Just like several of his teammates, Lehnhardt would likely be a top runner on almost any other team in the state, but on Sandburg he is a pack runner who will probably be scoring in most races for the Eagles. Still, he is another fantastic candidate for All-State from Sandburg.
Sr., Plainfield (North)
55th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:09)
Track Bests: 9:33 / 4:26
Sebok qualified individually last year by finishing 16th at the deep Marist sectional, and comes back this year looking to compete hard for an All-State spot. Sebok ran 9:33 and 4:26 this past spring. "Jack will be our leader," says Coach Andrew Derks. "He has been healthy all summer and training is going very well."
So., Crystal Lake (South)
56th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:09)
23rd at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:28 / 4:35
Overshadowed by the incredible performance of Charlie Kern were the performances of some outstanding freshen throughout the season last fall. The first of which by Jack Becker, the 56th place finisher at Detweiller and the second quickest freshman. Along with a few other upperclassmen, Becker has a lot of room to improve and will be sharpened by very good competition all year. He could be all-state in 2015.
Sr., Northbrook (Glenbrook North)
57th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:09)
Track Bests: 4:32 / 1:58
Whitfield was in individual qualifier finishing 14th at the Niles West sectional last year and leads Glenbrook North who finished 2nd in the CSL-North in 2014. Whitfield narrowly missed an individual qualification in a very deep 800 field at the 2015 Loyola sectional. Whitfield will be among a tough individual field at Lake Park this year and will try to qualify for the second straight year, as well as finish in the top 25 at Peoria.
So., Chicago (Whitney Young)
58th at 2014 3A Boys Cross Country State (15:10)
4th at 2014 Niles West XC Sectional
1st at 2015 3200 Prospect Wanner Knight Invitational
16th at 2015 Detweiller at Dark (15:24)
Track Bests: 9:26 / 4:28
The third returning freshman is Clayton Mendez, and he is also the second returner in the CPS, the second returner at the Lake Park sectional, and a precocious talent, showing the ability to hang with the best runners in Illinois and finish strong at the end of races. This year, he is a year older and wiser and it has shown in his training, says Coach Billy Poole-Harris. "Last year we were still learning smart racing, going out at the right speed and being there at the end. But he is ready for this year. His goals are set very, very high."
Sr., Orland Park (Sandburg)
59th at 2014 3A Boys Cross Country State (15:11)
60th at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
100th at 2014 Nike Cross Nationals
Track Bests: 9:44 / 4:24
Although Lukas will be competing to score for the Eagles this fall, he is also the 25th returner in 3A and will be in the contest for an All-State spot. Lukas comprised one fourth of the state title winning Sandburg 3200 meter relay team in 2015.
Sr., Park Ridge (Maine South)
62nd at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:12)
Track Bests: 4:26
Coach Greg Nordahl tells us a little bit about his top runner entering the season: "Sodaro was
working out some issues with his hips last season. This seems to have been solved and he is training
now without issue. Looking at his summer conditioning and comparing it to previous runners I project
him starting the season near 15:00 and ending below 14:45."
Sr., Chicago (St. Ignatius College Prep)
64th at 2014 Cross Country State (15:13, Detweiller best 15:00)
103rd at 2013 Cross Country State
1st at 2013 CCL XC Champs
1st at 2015 3200 CCL Champs
1st at 2014 3200 CCL Champs
5th at 2015 3A 1600 State Final
Track Bests: 9:18 / 4:14
Santino has underachieved on the cross country course the last couple of years but expect that to change after a track season that included a fifth place finish in the 1600 at the state meet. Coach Ed Ernst: "Dan had a breakthrough season in track. He went 9:18 for 3200 at the Midwest Distance Classic. He will be our obvious team leader, and probably one of the favorites in any race he runs in the fall."
Sr., New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central)
65th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:13)
132nd at 2013 3A Cross Country State
Track Bests: 9:56 / 4:33
Peterson is now the top runner for Lincoln-Way Central. He has the experience of two previous state meets under his belt and comes off a track season running races sparingly. This year, he will be running for one of the 25 all-state spots.
Sr., Huntley (H.S.)
68th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:16, Detweiller Best 14:57)
93rd at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
4th at 2014 St. Charles East XC Sectional
2x 3200 State Qualifier (35th in 2014, 22nd in 2015)
Track bests: 9:24 / 4:20
Conroy is Huntley's second returner and although he is the 29th returner from cross country, do not let that fool you-- he is likely one of the top 15 runners in the state. Conroy ran an incredible track season with a 9:24 at sectionals and a 4:20 earlier in the season. He will be a huge part of Huntley's season in 2015 and do not be surprised to see him very high in the standings at the end of the season.
Sr., McHenry (H.S.)
75th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:18, Detweiller Best 14:53)
12th at 2014 Schaumburg XC Sectional
26th at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:18 / 4:22
Similar to a few other guys on this list (Conroy, Santino), Hahndorf underachieved at the 2014 XC state meet and surely will be one of the best runners in Illinois this year. This track season featured blazing fast times of 9:18 and 4:22 within a week of each other in late May. For the first time in his running career, Hahndorf is the leader of the Warriors and could be in the top 15 at state.
Sr., Elmhurst (York)
73rd at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:17)
73rd at 2013 3A Cross Country State
83rd at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
88th at 2013 NXN Midwest Regional
Track Bests: 9:56 / 4:27 / 1:57
Denning has been a consistent varsity scorer for York for more than two years now, and he returns as the top senior for the Dukes and will try to lead them back to a state championship. He is a candidate to run All-State this season, and will try to finisher higher than 73rd (where he has finished each of the last two seasons).
Jr., Lake Zuirch (H.S.)
141st at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:38)
151st at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
Track Bests: 9:25 / 4:21
Griffith is a crucial aspect of the young Lake Zurich Bears team and could be a surprise after racing intermittently throughout the track season, which included being a part of the All-State 3200 meter relay Bears team. Griffith has had a big summer which could mean big things for him this fall.
Sr., Skokie (Niles North)
42nd at 2014 Niles West XC Sectional
29th at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
2nd at 2015 3A 3200 Loyola Sectional
Track Bests: 9:21 / 4:20
Despite not running at the state meet last year, Barr has proven on the track that he will be present as a frontrunner for the Vikings come fall. Coach Dave Shafron: "There isn't anything too fancy or technical with regards to his improvement. There was a point though in the middle of his Sophomore year when he turned on a switch that he really hasn't turned off ever since. He combines the following factors: 7 days a week, consistent weekly long runs, threshold running, good health, a competitive attitude and most importantly, an absolute pure love of the sport."
Sr., Lansing (Illiana Christian)
9th at 2014 2A Cross Country State (14:54)
59th at 2013 2A Cross Country State
50th at 2012 2A Cross Country State
102nd at 2014 NXN Midwest Regional
2nd at 2015 2A 800 State Final
Track Bests: 9:42 / 4:18 / 1:56
3A welcomes Illiana Christian which means Nick Wondaal will be running for a 3A All-State position after finishing top 10 in 2A last year. Wondaal showed prowess in mid-distance events, running 2nd place in the 2A 800 state final and finishing his season with a 4:18 1600 at the Midwest Distance Classic.
Sr., Lansing (Illiana Christian)
5th at 2014 2A Cross Country State (14:49)
14th at 2013 2A Cross Country State
49th at 2012 2A Cross Country State
2015 2A 3200 State Champion
7th at 2014 2A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:21 / 4:27
Colin DeYoung is the fastest newcomer to 3A this year, as Illiana Christian moves into the higher classification. DeYoung won the 2A 3200 state final last year and is a two time cross country All-State athlete. Now he will test his mettle against the runners in the highest classicification. He could finish in the top 15 this season.
Sr., Frankfort (Lincoln-Way North)
112th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:29)
21st at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:25 / 4:27
John Chomiak is the leader for Lincoln-Way North in the last year of the school's existence. Chomiak qualified for the 3200 last spring and finished 21st, and ended his season winning his heat of the flighted Boy's Miles at Magnificent Miles. Chomiak can race for an all-state position.
Sr., Downers Grove (South)
170th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (15:52, Detweiller best 15:23)
37th at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:22 / 4:21
Lalonde finished relatively far back at last year's state meet but he wont' again this year, after a track season that includes 4:21 and 9:22 bests. The possiblity of the Mustangs qualifying for Peoria as a team out of that sectional will provide extra motivation for LaLonde as he seeks an All-State performance this fall.
Jr., Park Ridge (Maine South)
199th at 2014 3A Cross Country State (16:17)
18th at 2014 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:27 / 4:29
Jordan is a relative newcomer to cross country. After a strong finish in Heat 1 of the 3200 in Charleston this last year, he will be making an impact for the Hawks this semester. Coach Greg Nordahl: "Last season was his first season running distance (football transfer). Reese really progressed over his first year of running and as huge upside potential -- he is running tandem with Sodaro and I also project him starting the season near 15:00 and moving to near 14:45 or below."
Sr., Lincolnshire (Stevenson)
1st at 2015 Detweiller at Dark (14:47)
24th at 2015 3A 3200 State Final
Track Bests: 9:16 / 4:21
Borowsky narrowly missed qualifying for Peoria last year and will hope to redeem himself this year. He has proven that he is as ready as anybody else in the state; Borowsky is the early season 3 mile leader with a 14:48 victory at Detweiller at Dark.