In last year's Shazam Championship, St. Charles East proved they were the top overall team in the state. With things seemingly moving back to normal, it will be interesting to see who the top squads are. In this final edition, we break down all 25 preseason ranked squads.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Jason Crowe / Ryan Thompsen
Last Year's Finish: 7th at 3A Normal Community Sectional
New Additions: Dylan Maloney (Fr.)
-It's a new year and time for the Cougars who enjoyed a great summer training season. The top newcomer Dylan Maloney has a tremendous running IQ according to coach Crowe. "Dylan is a wise runner beyond his years! He is a student of the sport and loves distance running and racing." If the season extends into November it will be because of a strong pack centered around top returners Ethan Reynoso. But keep an eye on Camyn Viger. He clocked a very good 4:26 mile in track as a freshman.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Joe Parks / Mike Nigliaccio, Alec Bollman
Last Year's Finish: Loyola Academy Regional- 7th place
-A new sheriff takes over the vaulted Pirates program. Well, kinda... after 14 years with the girl's program, coach Parks shifts to take over the reins from a departed Chris Quick. Alum Ruth Spethmann (formerly Allen) is now the girl's head coach. Previously Parks coached the boys at St. Charles North. He is one of the premier coaches in the state and the Pirates will remain in good hands.
Says Parks of working with the boys: "While I've had some contact with the boys over the years we are still in the early stages of learning about each other, building relationships, and me finding out what makes each guy tick. We are currently void of any truly experienced state-level boys, but I believe this is a crew that can be strong as a unit and has individual breakout potential. I think we've got 10-12 boys that will eventually make up a strong top 7 when all is said and done.
The guys seem to be buying into our philosophy and I've already seen big growth in our team since summer training has started. I'm excited to see what they can do."
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Brian Caldwell / Sean Senf, Greg Maloney, Mike Kirk
Last Year's Finish: 3A Chicago Whitney Young Sectional- 11th place
New Additions: Dean Golminas (So) is not technically new since he came out for XC last fall, but he joined late and on a whim with no prior running experience. Golminas ran in the 19-minute range last fall but has gotten serious about running and training and could see some major breakthroughs this season. The yearling started outdoor track running 2:30 for the 800 and two months later was running 2:14/4:59. If things go well I could see him opening up in the low to mid-16-minute range and then continue dropping time from there.
Coach Caldwell adds: "Overall, things are going well. We obviously have a low point scorer in Neumann that is a huge boost to the squad. After Tim, we have probably a dozen guys that are fighting for top five spots. Our biggest key to success is going to be needing a couple of those guys to have some big breakthroughs. That usually happens and what is exciting is that we have plenty of guys that I think are capable of doing it."
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Andy Derks / Sam Barranco
Last Year's Finish: 3A ShaZam XC Championships- 18th place
New Additions: Armaan Rehmani
(Sr.)- coach Derks is excited here because of the huge potential- packed with leg speed (400m runner) but also broke 5:00 in the mile.
Coach Derks' outlook: "I'm really excited to see how this team comes together and how they put their stamp on the program. We've got some talented guys up front led by Oliver Burns (9:31/4:28 in track) and Cooper Shelton (4:29/ 9:50). Ryan Tracey (4:34) and Suchir Sumant (4:39) have been right with them all summer as well. After that, we've got a committee of guys competing and pushing each other, and I have no idea who will emerge. Josh Bedford (4:41/ 2:00) should be up there, as should Josh Furnish (16:27 last year XC) and Chris Suarez (16:21 last year XC)."
"We also have a quartet of sophomores who have really elevated this summer, and the sky is the limit for those guys.
We aren't putting any limits on what we can accomplish, we just hope to continue to train as smart as we can, focus on all the championship habits that we can control, and be a team that improves throughout the season. If we do that we can be at the top of the SPC and a top-10 caliber state team, I have no doubt. That is a long way off, though, and there are a lot of great teams out there who want the same thing. We are grateful to have so many terrific teams in our conference and in this state to bring out the best in each other."
Head Coach: Kevin Young
Last Year's Finish: 3A Hoffman Estates Sectional- 4th place
-The Huskies had a hard ending to their season last year, as they got quarantined just before the ShaZam XC Championships leaving them unable to compete. They enter this year with an interesting dynamic. They will be led by their returning top seniors, led by Sean Stafford. He appears ready to break 15:00 this season. Following him will be the duo of Connor Oiler and Johnny Lifka who both have the potential to crack 15:30. After that is a lot of question marks with a lot of sophomores closing out the top five that had a great track season.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: JB Hanson / Courtney May
Last Year's Finish: 3A ShaZam XC Championships- 7th place
Unexpected Losses: Bodie McCall
Coach Hanson simply says: "Our summer has gone great so far. Very experienced and dedicated group. Really looking forward to a normal season!"
Head Coach: Nate Roe
Last Year's Finish: DuKane Conference Meet- 3rd place
-It was a heartbreaking end to the Falcons season last year as they had to quarantine just before the regional meet. Unable to field a team, their campaign ended as they chose not to participate in any post-season meets.
Led by Ryan Schreiner the middle-distance star showed his range last season placing high in some very good quality meets. He will look to be sub 15:00. Following him is the duo of Ryan Zydek and Caleb Youngstedt, both were in the 15:50 range last season, they will try and get a little closer to Schreiner. Hudson Romaine makes a great #4 runner looking to break 16:00. The Falcons will need someone to step up into that number 5 spot and they have a lot of athletes that have the potential to slot into that position.
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Chris Bosworth / Mike Kososki and Matt Gill
Last Year's Finish: 3A ShaZam XC Champions
New Additions: "We have one of the largest freshmen classes ever," says coach Bosworth. "Jamie Heuser has established himself as one of the better kids on the team so far. Ben Leidig, AJ Komerska, and Liam King are all Jr's this year that made huge strides from a year ago."
Coach Bosworth's Outlook: "The last two seasons of XC have been the best in program history. That being said, we return two from our top seven at the Shazam meet and one from our 2019 state championship team. Micah Wilson should be one of the top runners in the [nation] and will look to be at his best in November. We will look for our 2-7 to gain varsity experience throughout the season.
The returning team did have a strong track season, so we will look for that to help springboard our continued training in the summer and into the fall xc season. The key will be having our 2-7 come in close to each other throughout the season. The great thing about our team is that they witnessed firsthand how to come together and run for each other over the last two seasons. We will continue with that mantra of FOR EACH OTHER and racing at our best when it counts."
Head Coach/Assistant Coaches: Chris Baldwin / Abel Reyes and Andre Harris
Last Year's Finish: 3A Chicago Whitney Young Sectional- 10th place
New Additions: Daniel Johnson (So), Michael Michelotti (So)
Coach Baldwin's Outlook: "It should be an exciting season this fall, we lost Eamon Cavanaugh but he was our only senior who raced at our conference meet last year (we raced 10). We've had some guys who made big strides this past winter/track season and they are excited to race in a "normal" cross country meet. Our team is pretty deep this year, we could have a different top seven at every meet. With last year being so different, I'm not really sure how we stack up against other teams. We have a competitive schedule so we test ourselves often this year to see how we compare."