The 2021 IHSA State Championship passes through the opening 1200 meters
This is a very deep year in the 2A classification this year. It will be interesting to see if some of the unclassified teams can improve their status and make some noise among favorites in their regional, state, and even the state championship.
Head Coach: Amanda Young
Last Year's Finish: 8th place- Metamora Sectional
Key returners: Trae Helwig (So.), Carson Cowling (Sr.), Nate Theiler (Sr.), Nate Haines (Jr.), Andrew Mischler (Sr.), Ben Roth (Jr.), Ryley Claudin (So.)
Summary: This group had a leadership change this past summer with legendary coach Gene Jones retiring. Former Metamora star runner and two-time state 800m champion Amanda (Duvendack) Young has taken the lead and will hope to guide the Redbirds back to the state meet. Trae Helwig will lead this squad as he did last season as he enters his sophomore campaign. He will look to brush off a rough track season. The duo of Carson Cowling and Nate Theiler will look to be a solid 2-3 punch. After that there are some question marks, they will need some athletes to step up and compete for the fourth and fifth spots.
Head Coach/Coaches: Ken Husser / James Paddock, Eryk Yunk
Last year's finish: 10th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Evan Horgan (Sr.), Orlando Hernandez (Sr.), Antonio Ostalaza (So.), Will Ward (Jr.), Nicholas Schroeder (Jr.), Jesse Kramer (So.), Anthony Avila (Jr.)
Coach Husser's outlook: The team is not as deep as it was last year but we have two pretty solid front runners in Evan and Orlando. How far we go as a team will be dependent on how our younger runners develop and if they can close the gap. Will Ward, Antonio Ostalaza, and Jesse Kramer had excellent track seasons along with a pretty good summer of work. They will have to finish together and be within thirty seconds of Orlando for us to be really competitive. I think we have the ability to qualify for state, but I am not sure beyond that. Definitely, more question marks this year.
Head Coach: Andrew Walmer
Last year's finish: 8th place- State Championship
Key returners: Ben Wallace (Sr.), Hayden Grotelueschen (Sr.), Ethan Ramirez (So.), Grant Smysor (Jr.)
Key additions: Augustus Gaudio (Fr.), Ethan Peterka (Fr.), Henry McMurray (Fr.)
Summary: This will be the first year with longtime coach Neal Garrison not being at the helm of the program. Instead, one of his former standout athletes takes over the program in Andrew Walmer. This is an extremely young team that will be led by two seniors, Ben Wallace and Hayden Grotelueschen. Both runners were key athletes for the Bulldogs last season and will have to take a very big mentor role this year with 4 of their projected top runners being FR/SO. The big addition to this group is Augustus Gaudio who was a standout runner on the IESA level last year.
Head Coach: Benjamin Page
Last year's finish: 24th place- State Championship
Key returners: Eddie Papis (Sr.), Sam Tellefson (Jr.), Charlie Borlin (So.), Deegan Reece (So.), Alex Volk (Sr.), Brice Banning (Jr.), Luke Conard (Sr.)
Unexpected losses: Milo Rinkenberger (Jr.), Fisher Rinkenberger (So.)
Summary: This squad changed coaches this summer with Benjamin Page stepping into the role. He will have a lot of work to do this season without the Rinkenberger brothers. This squad will be led by the duo of Eddie Papis and Sam Tellefson who will look to run close to 16:30 this season. Sam Tellefson is coming off a great track season, running 2:02 for 800m. He has the potential to emerge as a sub-16:00 guy this year. Charlie Borlin and Deegan Reece were both freshmen last season and will have a bigger role this year.
Head Coach/Coaches: Zach Boehmke / Forrest Farokhi, Justice Carter, Alex Bartkowiak
Last Year's Finish: 19th place- State Championship
Key returners: Julio Angrave (Sr.), Brian Allison (Jr.), Michael Allison (Jr.), Hudson Coady (Jr.), Parker Schroeder (Jr.), Dereje Jahiel (So.)
New additions: Mohammad Amrani (So.)
Coach Boehmke's outlook: "The boys from Urbana are coming off a state-qualifying year for the first time in fifty years. We lost three important pieces of that, team, however, our four remaining pieces are better runners after another year of experience and are supplemented by guys that are ready to rise to the challenge of qualifying once again. Because we are so junior-heavy, we know that this is the first of two years of growth, which should hopefully culminate in something special."
"We want to be able to compete locally and retain our Twin City title, but we also want to hold steady in the larger meets. If we can keep a pack average around 16:15, which would require a decent but doable amount of growth along with a couple of surprises thrown in, we should be right back to where we were last year as a top-twenty team in the state."
Head Coach: Larry Huffman
Last year's finish: 17th place- Decatur MacArthur Sectional
Key returners: Joe Schwartz (Sr.), Morgan Stratton (Sr.), Justin Witt (Jr.), Henry Huels (Sr.), Kyle Kern (Jr.), Ethan Schimpf (Jr.), Luke Warden (So.)
Summary: The Bulldogs return all seven runners from their team last year. Led by Joe Schwartz, they will have one of the best low-stick runners possible in the classification. He ran 9:24 on the track this spring and will challenge for an individual title. Morgan Stratton and Justin Witt both ran in the 16:40s last season and will be looking to improve on that this season.
Head Coach/Coaches: Mike Garber / Lindsay Cook, Jay Welp, Grant Kaiser
Last year's finish: 10th place- Decatur MacArthur Sectional
Key returners: Drew Verenski (Sr.), Lleyton Turk (Sr.), Carter Simmons (So.), Mateo Calderon (Sr.), Eli Morsch (Sr.), Will Paztia (So.), Ayden Groves (Jr.)
Outlook: After finishing out of the state sweepstakes last year, the Titans is a team that's starving for an opportunity to make it to state. " We have some young, hungry runners that are going to push our upperclassmen.," said coach Mike Garber. "The senior squad is really talented, but the younger guys have been putting in the work over summer."
Head Coach/Coaches: Bryan Cobb / Jon Hootman, Charles Milbert
Last Year's Finish: 12th place- Woodstock North Sectional
Key Returners: Liam Pentangelo (Sr.), John Sanderson (Sr.), Addison Morley (Sr.), Ryan Feeney (Jr.), Keaton Jones (Sr.), Jayden Kim (So.), Grant Anderson (So.)
Outlook: The Mustangs return five of their top seven runners and will look to move up in the sectional standings and fight for a spot in the state championship. "Our top four looks solid but we are going to need some other boys to step up and fill out our top seven," says coach Bryan Cobb. "Our keys to a successful season are keeping everyone healthy and closing the gap between our top four runners and the next three."
Head Coach/Coaches: Tom Wazio / Kyle Swynenburg
Last Year's Finish: 12th place- Fenton Sectional
Key Returners: Charlie Walsh (Sr.), Joey Bowes (Sr.), Charley Duggan (Jr.), Danny Macis (Jr.), Gavin O'Connor (So.), JD Maloney (So.), Logan Warda (So.)
Outlook: The success of the Crusaders will hinge on depth more than the lowsticks. "I think any success we have this year will be dependent on how well our 4-9 [runners] develop over the course of the season," says coach Tom Wazio. "I feel good about 1-3. The key will be getting 4-9 to train together which will be accomplished by doing this in workouts at practice daily. And just like any team, what kind of leadership roles the team takes on and if they hold each other accountable. It would be nice to bounce back after last year which was disappointing."
Head Coach/Coaches: Jim Dickerson / Paul Faeh
Last Year's Finish: 7th place- Kaneland Regional
Key Returners: Adam Fournier (Sr.), Aaron Koehler (Sr.), Mason White (Jr.), Andrew Petersen (So.), Kayden Miller (Sr.), Jaitin Pallath (Sr.), Leyton Mueller (Jr.)
New Additions: Colton Lin (Fr.), Wotjek Gilarski (Fr.), Max Fernandez-Cin (Fr.)
Outlook: After a rough finish last year, the Hornets are ready to improve and make a case to fight for a spot in Peoria at the season's end. The key ingredient will be depth. "I have never gone into the year with a more interchangeable group," says coach Jim Dickerson. "There are up to 15 runners who could factor in our varsity group by the end of the year. This is probably the strongest fresh/soph crew I have had at Hinsdale South but I am in no rush to run them varsity at major meets because we have depth." Depth means tight packs and that is how successful teams are bred. Dickerson is also banking on several of his horses to break the 16:00 barrier. If they can do this, the Hornets could be an exciting team to watch.
Head Coach: Vince Neil
Last Year's Finish: 10th place- Woodstock North Sectional
Key Returners: Ryan Kries (Jr.), Adam Hinkleman (Jr.), Logan Karottu (Jr.), Robert Anderson (Jr.), Alan Perez (Jr.), Jack Barkocy (So.), Gio Episcopo (So.)
New Additions: Alan Perez (Jr.)
Outlook: Patience will be a key element as the Rockets move in the direction they ultimately want to be in. "It will take us some time to be where we want to be this fall," says coach Vince Neil. "With the new look of our team and graduating some competitive boys, we are going to have to build this team up throughout the year."
Head Coach/Coaches: Joe Sullivan / Jose Lopez
Last Year's Finish: 9th place- State Championship
Key returners: Muhiyadin Ali (Sr.), Ammar Alnatsheh (Sr.), Jesus Chavarria (Jr.), Mohamed Abdullahi (Jr.), Hirsi Hirsi (Jr.), Jose Moreno (Jr.)
Outlook: The Rangers will be a vastly looking squad this fall per coach Joe Sullivan. "This is a new look team for us. Yasir Hirsi, Kevin Gee, and Leo Camargo, who built up our program over the last four years, have graduated," he said. "Our team qualified for state each of their four years and they led us to a top 10 finish for the first time in program history last season."
Now the current crop of runners will have an opportunity to pen their own Mather cross country history. "This is the first team I have coached with no runners who were varsity contributors as underclassmen," adds Sullivan. "They have all had to earn their way into varsity positions through improvement over a long period of time. As a result, we have our most dedicated group yet. Seniors Muhiyadin Ali and Ammar Alnatsheh are our top two returners and have state meet experience."
It will be a bit of a challenge for the Rangers to make a return to the state meet but it's a task they are ready to fight for. "Mohamed Abdullahi had a breakout track season and will need to run up in the front of races for us this fall," adds Sullivan. "Jesus Chavarria, Hirsi Hirsi, Jose Moreno, and Maisam Rajaie figure to fill out our top seven." Hirsi, Maisam, and Nur Aga Rajaie provided leadership during the summer training sessions and the growth will be key as the season progresses.
Head Coach: Scott Gill
Last year's finish: 18th place- State Championship
Key returners: Dylon Nalley (Jr.), Benja Stone (Sr.), Mekye Lomax (Jr.), Sean Hudspath (Sr.), Hayden Lees (Jr.), Evan Dailey (So.), Jack Tate (So.)
Summary: This squad will be an interesting one to look out for. The Wildcats return their top four all under 16:50. After a great track season in the 800m (winning the state 4x800), the Wildcats will have to see if that will translate to three miles. Led by frontrunner Dylon Nalley, this squad will have the low stick they need with him going after an individual state title. The key will be finding a fifth runner.