2020 2A Boys Preseason Preview: #25-11

This will be an interesting season in that there may not be a state series. However, there still should be fierce competition among the palate of the teams listed.


25. Mattoon

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Troy Haake / Liz Schumacher, Dale Righter

Last Year's Finish: 12th place- Decatur MacArthur Sectional

Key Returners: Brock Davee (Jr.), Josh Ramage (Sr.), Sam Ferrar (Jr.), Brandon Creel (So.), Triston Grove (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Davee, Ramage, Ferrar, Creel, Grove, Mac Beadles (Sr.), Chase Armstong (Jr.)

New Additions: It's hard to know yet but Colton Smith is an incoming freshman that has been putting in some work this summer.

Unexpected Losses: None

Coach Haake's Outlook: I would love to see the guys have a great year, we are a veteran team now and should run with confidence. We would like to challenge for team titles in the Mattoon Invite, the Apollo Conference and ultimately a State birth.


24. Olney (Richland County)

Head Coach: Rob Kirby

Last Year's Finish: 8th place- Decatur MacArthur Sectional

Key Returners: Gavin Kirby (Sr.), Keaton Hancock (Sr.), Brooks Julian (Jr.), Jarrett Doll (So.)

Projected Top 7: Kirby, Hancock, Julian, Doll, Colin Kocher (Sr.), Holden Hough (So.), Collin Gilreath (Sr.)

New Additions: None

Unexpected Losses: None

Carson's Thoughts: This is a solid team back looking for a spot at the state meet after missing out last season. Lead by superstar runner Gavin Kirby, don't count out the Tigers.


23. Belvidere North

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Ken Husser/Aaron Leonard, John Paddock

Last Year's Finish: 8th place- Belvidere Sectional

Key Returners: Caden Mcnulty (Jr.), Nick Lenzen (Jr.), Caden Lendman (Jr.)

Projected Top 7: Mcnulty, Lenzen, Lendman, Josh Martinez (Sr.), Brandon Massman (Jr.), Luke Smith (Jr.), Orlando Hernandez (So.)

New Additions: None - We have a number of solid freshmen but none that will contribute to the top 7 this year.

Unexpected Losses:  None

Coach Husser's Outlook: The team lost its top runner Max Beutel to graduation, but everyone else returns and they were almost all sophomores. We have had a great summer with a consistent turnout of approximately twenty runners. We have a number of runners who were very disappointed in the results of last year's sectional race and they have been very motivated, putting in the work with the goal of making the state meet. If we continue to work hard and come together as a team I think that is a realistic goal.


22. Riverside-Brookfield

Head Coach/Coaches: Tony Enright/ Mateo Nunez

Last Year's Finish: 20th place- 2A State

Key Returners: Paul Proteau (Jr.), Zack Gaynor (So.), Peter Kallas (Sr.), Alex Terry (So.)

Projected Top 7: Proteau, Cooper Marrs (Fr.), Terry, Hayden Marrs (Fr.), Jack O'Brien,  Peter Kallas, Zack Gaynor

New Additions: Cooper Marrs (Fr.), Hayden Marrs (Fr.), Jack O'Brien (Fr.), William Kallas (Fr.)

Unexpected Losses: None

Coach Enright's Outlook: According to our summer mile time trial, four freshmen placed in our top 7. There are a number of runners that play multiple sports or have jobs this summer, so independent running is logged. The team has excellent chemistry with Seniors Peter Kallas, Cruz Herrera, Jovani Nava, and Junior: Paul Proteau leading the squad. The pandemic has placed a lot of restrictions and RB has facilitated many precautions to keep the runners safe; 32 runners are either at camp or are checking in with me daily and couldn't be happier with their commitment and communication. As far as accomplishments, we take a weekly approach and focus on topping last year's marks whether they are time trials, practices, or meets. In 2019 all 7 runners ran PR's at State and to make State as a team and run 7 more PR's is where we set the bar for 2020.


21. Marion

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Eli Baker

Last Year's Finish: 7th place- Decatur MacArthur Sectional

Key Returners: Isaac Donaldson (Sr.), Logan Morgan (Jr.), Benja Stone (So.), Peyton Craig (Jr.), Caleb Flesh (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Donaldson, Morgan, Stone, Craig, Flesch, Dylon Nalley (Fr.), Jack Gregory (Jr.)

New Additions: Dylon Nalley will be an instant performer. It is well trained and is running great times in workouts and time trials (10:32 for 2 mile XC time trial). Cade Parks and Meyke Lomax also bring a lot of talent to the incoming freshmen class.

Unexpected Losses: none

Coach Baker's Outlook: We overall are a very young team with potentially 3 runners in the top 7 as freshmen. Our top runner is a freshmen and is ready to compete against the states best. We are building a strong team atmosphere and our depth will give solid runners for the next few years.


20. Carbondale

Head Coach/coaches: Greg Storm/Stephen Arvanis

Last Year's Finish: 9th place- Decatur Sectional

Key Returners: Alex Partlow (Jr.), Tucker Poshard (Sr.), Jackson Watts (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Poshard, Partlow, Watts, Ethan Stevens (Sr.), Jackson Beaupre (Sr.), Ajay Altman (So.). Conner Twenhafel (So.)

Key Additions: None

Unexpected Losses: None

Coach Storm's Outlook: As noted by our top seven, we have plenty of experience coming back. Tucker had a breakout season last year and is carrying that momentum into this year by putting a few more quality miles in. I think we have a chance to be good, but it will ultimately depend on our health because we do not have a deep team.

We hope to get four guys under 16:00 this year when it counts and by what they have shown in the past it is a manageable goal to attain. Obviously we are set up to challenge for a conference title this year, but like every year it will be close between a couple of teams on that day. Our focus is at the end of the year and maintaining health is an important factor to our ultimate goal of finishing as high as we can at the state meet.


19. Metamora

Head Coach/coaches: Gene Jones / Pete Bachfischer, Jess Mellican, Dan Herring, Angie Kimbro, Cory Shoopman

Last Year's Finish:10th place- State

Key Returners: Ian O'Laughlin (Sr.), Colton Barb (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: O'Laughlin, Barb, Andy Foster (Jr.), Nate Theiler (So.), Matthew Roberts (Sr.), Chase Ehlers (Jr.), Nat Haines (Jr.)

Key Additions: Nate Haines (Jr.)

Unexpected Losses: None

Carson's Thoughts: This is a weaker Redbirds team than what we have seen in the past. With the 4th and 5th runners around the 17:00 mark they will have some work to do if they want to be the Metamora of recent years. Watch for Ian O'Laughlin to have a big season after finishing 16th place at the State Meet last season.


18. Chicago Mather

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Joe Sullivan / Jose Lopez

Last Year's Finish: 22nd place- State

Key Returners: Yasir Hirsi (Jr.), Kevin Gee (Jr.), Daniel Bekkouche (Sr.), Emmanuel Nwatu (Jr.), Tarek Alnatsheh (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Hirsi, Gee, Bekkouche, Nwatu, Alnatsheh, Leo Camargo (Jr.), Mutsindashyaka Niyonzima (Jr.)

New Additions: Junior Xavier Alvira and sophomore Muhiyadin Ali will be aiming for top seven spots this fall. They may or may not get there, but their dedication to training during Covid-19 has been an inspiration.

Unexpected Losses: None

Coach Sullivan's OutlookConsidering the added challenge that Covid-19 has had on our summer build-up, our team is in a decent spot. Most of our key guys are training. We return five from our 2019 team. The depth behind them is unclear, which is a concern. Team captains TarekAlnatsheh, Kevin Gee and Yasir Hirsi will provide great leadership. Daniel Bekkouche and Emmanuel Nwatu are multi-sport athletes and tough competitors. Provided the opportunity, this team should qualify for State for a fourth straight year and could have Mather's best team finish ever.


17. Hampshire

Head Coach/Coaches: Ryan Hollister / Rachel Kurkowski and Tina Norton

Last Year's Finish: 7th place- Belvidere Sectional

Key Returners: Isai Morales (Sr.), Aiden Gonzalez (Jr.), Darius Nguepi (Sr.), Henry Nangle (Jr.)

Projected Top 7: Morales, Gonzalez, Nguepi, Nangle, Sebastian Abreu (Jr.), Jason Schmidt (Jr.), Owen Cuplin (So.)

New Additions: Brayden Garland is an incoming freshman.  He had a lot of success in middle school and ran with us last summer.  His work ethic has really impressed me.  

Unexpected Losses: None

Coach Hollister's Outlook: I'm very optimistic about the season. Our boys know that we have a chance to make this year special and they've all been incredibly focused. Our regional was easily the best in the state last year but I think we have a chance to win both regionals and sectionals this season. We have four of our top five runners returning, including Aidan Gonzalez, who qualified for state individually as a sophomore.

Isai Morales suffered an injury mid-season that he wasn't fully recovered from until the regional meet last year. He started out as our fastest runner last season and his time trial this summer was faster than any race he ran last year. Darius Nguepi and Henry Nangle are returning varsity runners who have great work ethic and should be able to keep a tight pack behind Morales and Gonzales. We have about six guys who will also be competing for the last three varsity spots. That competition should really drive the group to improve and get us to the state meet in Peoria.


16. Sycamore

Head Coaches/coaches: Michael Lambdin / David Liszka

Last Year's Finish: 5th place- State

Key Returners: Alex Taylor (Sr.), Jack Cambier (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Taylor, Cambier, Carson Campbell (Sr.), Kyle Horn (Sr.), Ethan Solfisburg (So.), Donny Gramer (Sr.), Roman Friedrichs (Jr.)

New Additions: Roman Friedrichs (Jr.): As a freshman Roman was 10:50 for the 3200m run. Nick Kocher (Jr.): Nick is a scrappy competitor who is dedicated to improving as a runner. Naif Al Harby (Fr.), Jacob Gramer (Fr.) and John Cerny (Fr.): for rookies these three freshmen have run some impressive workouts. It's fun to think of their development and where they might fit in at the end of the season. 

Unexpected Losses: None

Coach Lambdin's Outlook: There is a strong core of seniors to build around. With their leadership and the depth from junior and sophomore classes, we expect to be a strong team come state series. The last two years, the boys have finished 5th and 6th at the state meet. This season we would like to improve on those performances


15. Peoria (Notre Dame)

Head coach/coaches: Dan Gray

Last Year's Finish: 13th place- State

Key Returners: Logan Keene (Sr.), Patrick Couri (Sr.), Owen Lynch (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Keene, Couri, Lynch, Aiden Kolb (Sr.), Brian Coulter (Jr.), Brennan Messmer (Sr.), Mitch Rickey (Sr.)

Key Additions: Unknown

Unexpected Losses: Unknown

Carson's Thoughts: This team looks to be around the same skill level they were at last year with potential of being a bit better. Should have a 1-5 split of 35 seconds, if they can close that to about 20 seconds, they are a candidate to be a top 10 team.


14. Troy (Triad)

Head Coach/coaches: Andy Brendel

Last Year's Finish: 17th place- State

Key Returners: Drake Bleier (Sr.), Luke Perry (Sr.), Caleb Bagwell (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Bleier, Perry, Bagwell, Ethan Dudley (Jr.), Carson Dempsey (Jr.), Clay Barker (Sr.), Drew Pace (Fr.)

Key Additions: Drew Pace (Fr.)

Unexpected Losses: Unknown

Carson's Thoughts: This could be a big year for the Knights, better than many may expect. They will be a prime candidate to push their way up the rankings with the current team they have led by now Senior, Drake Bleier who will be looking for a top 10 finish in the classification. The biggest thing for this team though maybe the addition of Drew Pace who is a talented freshman that i hear is in line to have a great career.


13. Dixon

Head Coach/coaches: Simon Thorpe

Last Year's Finish: STATE RUNNER-UP

Key Returners: Brock Drengenberg (Sr.), Cadyn Grafton (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Drengenberg, Grafton, Brayden Bock (So.), Dominic Lazano (Sr.), Jack Boss (Sr.), Jackson Ortgiesen (So.), Jack Johnson (So.), Marcus Simpson (So.)

Key Additions: Unknown

Unexpected Losses: Unknown

Carson's Thoughts: This is lower in the rankings than what the Dukes have been used to in recent years for a few reasons. The biggest reason is the loss of Evan Thorpe at the helm in the head coach position, it has been passed down to his son Simon Thorpe. We will have to see how the team reacts to said change. Another reason is their fifth runner is currently trailing the rest of the pack. He ran an 18:12 last season and the Dukes will need someone to step up and run 16:30 this upcoming season to move into the top 10. Drengenberg will look to challenge for a state title this season, which will help this team out greatly.


12. Maple Park (Kaneland)

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Chad Clarey/Eric Baron, Andy Franklin, Clayton Brundige

Last Year's Finish: STATE CHAMPIONS

Key Returners: Isaiah Dallal (Sr.), Parker Malone (Sr.)

Projected Top 7: Dallal, Malone, Nolan Allen (Jr.), Aaron Lodwig (Sr.), Christian Phillips (Jr.), Logan Cunz (Jr.), Christopher Fountain (Sr.)

New Additions: We add a couple of sophomores who could fit into the equation in 2020. Brady Babka (health) and Nolan Hoskings (football) were not with us in competition last year, but both have shown the ability to contribute in our varsity mix, later on in the season. Trevor Neal is another sophomore who was part of our State Team in 2019. These three can have a strong campaign developing at the lower level and may earn a "call up," when the time is right.

Unexpected Losses: None

Coach Cleary's Outlook: Not having a track season in the spring leaves us with some questions and some vacancies on the cross country course after graduating five of the seven who ran in the State Finals last fall. Bringing back Dallal and Malone as seniors, along with Nolan Allen, will give us some great building blocks to start with.

Since June, this 2020 version of the Knights have been working very hard, logging thousands of miles in pursuit of the opportunity to challenge their personal bests. This year is all about "focusing on the root and not the fruit." We are choosing to focus on the "root" of what we do to improve ourselves as runners. Our root consists of sound training, working on the small details that help make us complete runners and people.

"The fruit" which comes in the form of accolades and team success is something that will happen as a result of our hard work. We do not need to be concerned with "defending titles." Each day, we will work to become the best versions of ourselves, and if there's a State Series to be had in 2020 (or 2021), we will be prepared. There's no doubt that the level of excellence that this year's team has been putting forth rivals the best summer's we have had on record. The seniors are leading the way, recording their miles and putting in the work that it takes to be successful in this sport. The sophomore class has some exciting potential as well, and we look forward to seeing how that blends in with the upperclassmen when the time comes.


11. Oak Lawn (Richards)

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Bob Peck/John Kawulia 

Last Year's Finish: 21st place- 2A State

Key Returners: David Olmos (Sr.), Jack Weiland (Jr.), Louis Leahy (Jr.), Owen Forberg (So.)

Projected Top 7: Olmos, Weiland, Leahy, Owen Forberg, Luke Vana (Sr.), Julian Maldonado (Jr.), Josh Smith (So.)

New Additions: None

Unexpected Losses: Damian Russell

Coach Peck's Outlook: we are returning 5 of our 6 finishers from last year's state-qualifying team. All of them gained valuable experience from running at the state course for the first time last year. As a team, we will look to improve upon our finish at state last year, and senior David Olmos will look to contend for an all-state spot.