2021 Class A boys pre-season preview: #20 to #11

The "Jane Brady" of sorts here as many of these teams will work hard for respect this fall. It is possible that a few will be in contention for a state trophy in November.

2020 Shazam Cross Country Championship Action


Head Coach: Kevin Claus
Last Year's Finish: Seneca Sectional- 4th place
Key Returners: Tommy Murray (Jr.), Landis Musser (Jr.), Peyton Sand (Jr.), Caden Ludin (Sr.), Cam Overton (Sr.), Cael Hinde (So.), Caleb Bollinger (Jr.)
New Additions: Andy Murray (Fr.), Gage Gaulrapp (So.), Adam Benoit (Fr.), Silas Peschang (Fr.)
-This is a new season with improved goals according to coach Claus. "This is our team's third season together and each summer we've done a better job preparing for fall," he said. Hopefully, the positive vibes and attitude will result in a trip to the state championship in November. 

Head Coach: Randy Moore
Last Year's Finish: ShaZam XC Championships- 10th place
Key Returners: Ethan Walsh (Sr.), Weston Forward (So.), Ben Capriola (Sr.), Aidan Sosnowski (Jr.), Tony Chen (Sr.), Tyler Nalley (Jr.), Reece Weeseln (Jr.)
-The Royals lose two starters from a year ago and that could impact their trek up the ranking charts. Senior Adison Elliott moved to Florida and Connor Curry returned to soccer. Coach Moore is still optimistic about his squad because of the work that was put in. "They are ready to return to traditional cross country racing against competition outside of the Big Northern Conference."

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Todd Vohland / Amber Johnson, Leslie Hein
Last Year's Finish: 7th at Decatur St. Teresa Regional
-St. Teresa will be much improved over last year as a mostly junior lineup and experience is in store. Add incoming freshman Evan Cook, we are looking at a formable team. Three newcomers in Matt Auburn, Nataniel Babcock, and Colton Deetz will learn on the job this season. Sophomore Nate Smith is running cross country for the first time.

17. Benton

Head Coach: Brent McLain

Last Year's Finish: 8th- ShaZam XC Championships
Key Returners: Gavin Genisio (So.), Mason Tieffel (So.), Chase Owens (Sr.), Roman Rechsteiner (So.), Dash Holman (Jr.), Holde Allsopp (Sr.)
New Additions: Gabe McLain (Fr.)
Carson's Outlook: This is a team that some may be surprised to see ranked as coming off of last season, they only have 5 runners with xc experience on the team, but with some additions they should be geared up for another great season. Led by Gavin Genisio, who is coming off one of the best freshman track seasons in Illinois history, he should be a top 5 runner in 1A this season. With Mason Tieffel, Chase Owens, and Gabe McLain all looking to be under 17:00 this season, their only worry is their 5th man that comes into the season at 18:30.

Head Coach: Mike Egle
Last Year's Finish: 6th at 1A ShaZam XC Championships
Key Returners: Max Elder (Jr.), Mark Masaka (Sr.), Joe Carney (Jr.), Brian Kane (Jr.), Brenan McNamara (So.), Emmit Nomellini (So.) 
-Coach Egle: "Our top guy should be Max Elder. He's ready for a good season, after an injury-free track season." Another top guy to watch is Mark Masaka. Though he is more of a middle-distance runner,  he should work well with Elder. Unlike the 2020 season, this fall will test Egle's patience. He has four new guys on the scene including sophomore John Kipp. Moreover, this is a team that is going to make some noise.

Head Coach: Troy Kerber
Last Year's Finish: 12th at 1A ShaZam XC Championships
Key Returners: Armando Acosta (Jr.), James Stolfe (Jr.), Patrick Hilby (So.), Kevin Lilliwitz (So.), Zach Gates (Jr.), Jake McVey (So.), Kyle Perez (Jr.) 
Carson's Outlook: This team is extremely inexperienced as there are no seniors on this squad's projected top 7. Led by the duo of Armando Acosta and James Stolfe, they will be trying to break 16:00 for the Chargers this season. Followed by the duo of Patrick Hilby and Kevin Lilliwitz, ACC will have a very solid top 4 this season. They will need their 5th runner to step up here if they wish to improve their ranking this season as the projected 5th, Zach Gates comes into the season at 17:54.

Head Coach: David Remmert
Last Year's Finish: 13th at 1A ShaZam XC Championships
Key Returners: Jackson Grambart (Sr.), Ed Mitchell (Sr.), Logan Sikorski (Jr.), Rylan Good (So.), Ethan Robson (Sr.), Jacob Elston (Jr.), Charlie Hill (So.) 
Carson's Outlook: The Sages return at around the same rankings as their finish at ShaZam last season. Led by Jackson Grambart, the star runner locks to be a low stick guy for his squad as he enters as a top 10 runner in the classification. Ed Mitchell follows him trying to break the 16:00 and will form a powerful front 2 runner duo for this squad. After that, the key for the 2019 State Champs will be getting their 3-5 runners closer to breaking the 17:00 barrier.

Head Coach: Lester Hampton
Last Year's Finish: 4th at 2A Peoria Notre Dame Sectional
Key Returners: Sachit Muduli (So.), Brandt Henderson (Jr.), Zach Hutchins (Sr.), Jonah Kaeb (So.), Ethan Reisigner (Jr.), Ryan Rice (Sr.), Dylan Eble (Sr.)
Carson's Outlook: The pioneers have changed classifications once again as they now return back to the 1A grouping. They are led by the duo of youngsters Sachit Muduli and Brandt Henderson who will look to go sub 16:00 this season. Zach Hutchins has solidified himself as the 3rd runner for this historic program, but the real question will be who their 4th and 5th runners will be.

Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Rob Grosso / Peggy Heck
Last Year's Finish: 9th at 1A ShaZam XC Championships
Key Returners: Drew Rogers (Sr.), Ben Morgan (Sr.), Blaine Dodds (Sr.), Finley Cracco (Jr.), Thomas Morgan (So.), Joe Osborn (Jr.)
-"We have had 5 incoming freshmen that hardly missed a single summer workout between them," according to coach Grosso. "Two runners Matthew Benoit, Brayden Shepard are already proving to be in the mix for a very competitive top 7," added Grosso. "These guys have been state qualifiers in cross country and track all through junior high school and are coming in ready for the challenge of being a part of a state run!" 2021 is the date that Grosso has been dreaming of because superstar Drew Rogers now has a powerful supporting cast behind him. If all goes well, this could be the best season in school history.

Head Coach: Brendan Hoskins
Last Year's Finish: 5th at 1A ShaZam XC Championships
Key Returners: Owen Dare (Sr.), Carter Phillips (Sr.), Anthony Ragland (Sr.), Logan Demling (So.), Ethan Evans (Jr.), Seth Jenkins (Jr.), Brad Schardan (Sr.) 
Carson's Outlook: This may be the swan song for the powerhouse that has been the Spartans over the past few years with most of their talent graduating, expect all of them to give it all. Led by Owen Dare, the Spartans have a great 1-4 pack but will need to solidify their 5th runner which right now is projected to come into the season at 18:10, if they get that 5th runner figured out, this team can possibly challenge for a trophy spot.