This is the final frontier for the month-long previews. Though this group of teams is not ranked, they have the potential to do some great things this season. Check them out!
*2020 Shazam XC Championship full coverage
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Chris Muth, Kerry Stillmunkes, Lauren Vriezen, Tori Gatlin
Last Year's Finish: 3A ShaZam XC Championships- 12th place
Key Returners: Ben Whaley (Jr.), Nate Summers (Sr.), Nick Clever (Sr.), Brody Ferko (Sr.), Hayden Reyes (Sr.), Nolan Wood (Sr.), Paul Emmert (Jr.)
-Jack Stillmunkes, who would have been a top-three runner this year for the team, has had a medical issue and will be out for the season. Staying healthy and developing as a whole will be a main ingredient for the foxes. We are going to keep things simple and focus on checking all the boxes needed each day and having fun," said coach Muth. "I believe this is a state quality team if we can stay healthy, but we will need to keep our focus daily on the controllable and not the uncontrollable."
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Mike Wolf / Shea Carpenter
Last Year's Finish: 3A LaGrange Lyons Sectional- 12th place
Key Returners: Riley Newport (Jr.), Alex Boyden (Sr.), Angel Fernandez (Jr.), Zander Ward (Sr.), Jack Harrison (Jr.), Connor Donohue (Sr.), Logan Streb (Sr.), Riley Collins (So.), Connor Donohue (Sr.), Cairan Callagher (Sr.), Eduardo Castro (So.) Newcomers: Jacob Barraza (Fr.)
Coach Wolf's Outlook: We had a strong end to the track season with most of our top guys setting PR's in multiple distances. Summer training has gone well. Our guys are comfortable with the training we are doing and staying healthy. We are looking forward to getting back to our regular schedule and will focus on improving finishes at the end of last season. 5th at DVC, 3rd at Regional, 12th at Sectional.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Kevin Christian / Matt Smith, Chris Keller, Kala Penev
Last Year's Finish: 3A LaGrange Lyons Sectional- 8th place
Key Returners: Andrew Doetsch (Sr.), Mitchell Ruffin (Sr.), Aidan DeMuth (Jr.), Eli Marzsalek (Sr.), Adam Lakeman (Jr.), Julian Van Antwerp (Jr.), Zach Osmanski (Jr.), Matt Andreano (So), Andrew Beyer (So), Jacob Godinez (Sr), Michael Kathrein (Sr), Alec Melendez (Jr)
-"We have a large group that is working hard, but we especially have the projected top seven plus five more guys who all have varsity potential this season on the deepest team we have ever had," said coach Christian. It will be interesting to see how things shape out for a team that expects to be a pack running squad. Coach Christian's Outlook: Shocked at the group we have working right now. We return 12 guys who are all putting in 50+ miles a week and pushing each other. We will be a true pack team this season.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Jay Renaud / Erik Hodges
Last Year's Finish: 3A Hoffman Estates Sectional- 8th place
Key Returners: TJ Garland (Sr.), Sean Kura (Sr.), Luka Kuzmanovic (Jr.), Jobin Chiramel (Sr.), Michael Piagari (So.), Alex Rider-Leiner (Sr.), Jack Murphy (Jr.)
-The two main goals for the Knights are winning the MSL title and qualifying for the state championship, some that haven't been done since 2015.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Tim Brown / Dave Racey, Dan Hemmens
Last Year's Finish: 3A ShaZam XC Championships Runner-Up
Key Returners: Gabe Ryan (Sr.), Peter Harrison (Sr.), Colin Corcoran (Jr.), Luke Donaldson (So.), Addisu Wolski (Jr.), Miles Taylor (So.), Ervi Deleon (Jr.)
-After taking second in last season's biggest championship, the Huskies will try real fast to reload from a heavy senior loss. Coach Brown still believes his team is good enough to be a force in the top 25. Gabe Ryan is one name to watch this fall. He just missed all-Shazam status last year. Training has been going well even with a smaller than normal flock. The growth, progress, and improvement are things that will get the Huskies there.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Jeff Purdom / Emily Brodko, JT Markland
Last Year's Finish: 3rd at Southwest Prairie East Conference
Key Returners: Paul DeAvila (Sr.), Mike Forbear (Sr.), Aaron Wyckoff (Sr.), Alex Rojo (Sr.), Cam Mulyk (Sr.), Harlan Matson (So.), Tanner Torri (Jr.)
New Additions: Arnold Arce (So)
Coach Purdom's Outlook: "The team will be very senior-heavy with lots of returning varsity experience. After a season last fall of numerous setbacks with this group the guys had a really strong spring that has carried over the momentum into the summer. Forbear and DeAvila should provide a strong 1-2 punch upfront with the rest of the pack very close behind. Pack running should be a strong characteristic of the team this season. A strong group of sophomores (Matson, Schick, Arce, Churchill) could also play a role in the varsity pack as the season continues."
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Kurt Hasenstein / Tim Monahan
Last Year's Finish: 3A Hoffman Estates Sectional- 10th place
Key Returners: Brian Hiltebrand (Sr.), Michael Jerva (Sr.), Jayson Stamm (Sr.), Michael Westfall (Sr.), Elie Nassif (Sr.), Andy Ordway,
Newcomer: Jefferson Wei
-Will top runner Brian Hiltebrand back, this team should be good enough to challenge for a conference title. "Our goal is to be healthy and fresh for our major races in October," says coach Hasenstein.
Head Coach: Kris Roof, Tony Jones
Last year's finish: Whitney Young Sectional- 13th place
Key returners: Hunter Whitney (Jr.), Will Kozlowski (So.), William Archer (Jr.), Tommy Stecz (Jr.), Jack Klein (Sr.), Tommy Hunt (Sr.), Kyle Smorynski (Jr.)
-The last several seasons have not been kind to the Indians, whether it was a teacher's strike or Covid-19. It seemed as though the passion of coming to "work" every day presented its challenges. "After a good track and field season (4x800 clocked 8:01) in which several returners rebuilt their confidence, the goal this fall is to compete every day in the trenches," said coach Jones. "If the boys can do that, there will be some pleasant surprises." One person to watch out for is Hunter Whitney. He has been training well after suffering from a serious iron deficiency condition during the track season.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Jim Milner / Derrick Padovich
Key Returners: Alex Das (Jr.), Parker Nold (Jr.), Jacob Lanzara (Jr.), Carter Pankiewicz (Jr.), Creighton Patterson (Sr.), Brady Benoit (Sr,), Zach Benoit (Jr.)
New Additions: Luke Tam (So)
-An emerging team is ready to greet coach Milner this fall. "We have a young team consisting of mostly juniors," he said. "Our seniors have improved tremendously over the last four years and can help make an impact. The sophomores are also very good and we can see them step up to contribute to the varsity team."
Alex Das and Parker Nold will lead the charge and keep the team competitive in the big invites. However, the key will be to get the 3-7 pack close to the front while maintaining a 60-second split.