Wheaton-Warrenville South will be on the attack once again come Saturday morning
Key teams: 3A- #3 Wheaton-Warrenville South, #4 Oswego East, #10 Winnetka (New Trier), #13 Minooka, #18 Naperville (Neuqua Valley), #19 Naperville North, #20 Naperville Central, #23 Hinsdale Central, Palatine, Deerfield; 2A: #17 Darien (Hinsdale South)
Outlook: Last year at this time the talk was of then top-ranked Wheaton South coming in as a team ready to establish itself as the cross country kings in the state. Unfortunately, the fans in the area did not get to experience some great action.
Things on the surface appear to be a bit more level with some uncertainty in the Tigers camp due to graduation and perceived satisfaction from winning it all and making an appearance at NXN. But the truth of the matter is what happened in 2018 stays in 2018. This team is still very dangerous with five experienced varsity runners in the fold. Pack running is the main ingredient for a successful outcome for any veteran program. A senior dominant squad led by William Hauenstein, Jacob Kluckhohn, Jared Peaslee, Ethan Seng, and David Zeller will be out for blood on Saturday.
There is an emerging team by the name of Oswego East that meandered their way through the tricky 3A maze last year before ending up with a 10th place finish at the state championship. And just like Wheaton South, Coach James Milner's bunch is very experienced and hungry for continued rewards. The Wolves return six starters led by senior Luke Wentz who has already ran 15:06 (at Det at Dark). His teammates Herbie Alvarez (Sr.), Nick Bozarth (Sr.), Maverick Lange (Sr.), Brad Wiggins (Sr.), and Nick Henz (Jr.) will have their first major test of the season and it will be important to establish themselves as a true state contender right away.
New Trier was victorious here several years ago enroute to having one of their best squads in years. Coach Dave Wisner indicated during the summer that he expects another great outcome in 2019 from his brood. There are no exceptional runners to list when you expect a scoring split to be in the 10-20 second range. But if we have to name one, let's go with junior Andrew Flynn. But then again keep your fingers crossed and hope the Trevians load up their very deep squad on Saturday.
The Naperville schools will vie for bragging rights. Sort of... this is supposed to be a rebuilding year for Neuqua Valley whose usual senior turnover has not been a big deal. This time it appears as a true set of "no-names" will have to get the job done. Junior Nicolas Dovalovsky will, of course, set the hard upfront pace for his teammates and they will need to finish with a reasonable scoring split. There is no team better over the past ten years than the Wildcats in pack racing. Central and North have some stout talent on their rosters and they are expected to be fighting hard among the top five teams when the dust settles.
Add in hosts Hinsdale Central and South as well as Minooka to put the final stamp of approval on this meet as the best in the state for 9/7.
Individually, William Hauenstein could be tabbed the favorite. He placed eighth in the state meet last year and has a personal best of 14:30. Two seasons ago here he took fourth so at the very least he will be a guy to watch closely. Speak of watching, there is senior Tyler Cushing of Bolingbrook back in the field. He gained traction as a good distance runner when he took home first-place honors in the frosh race in 2017. Cushing is expected to challenge for a state title in November, so this meet would be a great opportunity to gauge himself. Palatine senior Richie Jacobo has put his name out front as a person of interest every time that he steps on the starting line. Aside from his all-state status in Peoria last year, Jacobo has built up his track numbers resume. Let's see how things shape out on Saturday for him. Senior Jake Allen of Naperville North clocked a sizzling 14:56 in July at the Det at Dark. Perhaps he is in prime shape now. But the fans alike will have to see on Saturday!