2A Boys Preseason Preview: #1Grayslake Central Gets The Nod

2021 Boys State Championship recap (deluxe model)

The countdown is complete and it's time to get ready for some cross country! The fight to the finish will of course end in Peoria at the famous Detweiller Park. Now, it's time to read about the final ten team capsules.


Head Coach: Michael Lambdi / David Liszka
Last Year's Finish: 14th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Ethan Solfisburg (Sr.), Naif Al Harby (Jr.), Jake Rundle (Sr.), Caden Emmert (Sr.), John Cerny (Jr.), Corey Goff (So.), Phoenix Calabrese (So.)
Summary: The Spartans return four runners from last year's state qualifying team. Led by the 1-2 punch of Ethan Solfisburg and Naif Al Harby, both runners will be looking to run in the 15:40s this season. After that, they will have Corey Goff who had a great track season running 4:45 in the 1600m, and Caden Emmert who had a good season in the 800m. According to Coach Lambdin, "our top four guys are running some nice summer workouts. They look sharp. How they progress and the development of two or three guys from our second group will go a long way in determining how successful we are at achieving our goals for the season."

Head Coach/Coaches: Jay Fuller / Bill Macaulay
Last Year's Finish: 13th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Ishan Patel (Jr.), Aryan Patel (Jr.), Cohen Shutt (Jr.), Dylan Hanson (Sr.), Jakob Crown (Jr.), Charlie Baker (Jr.), Thomas Sieck (Sr.)
Summary: The Blue Streaks return six of their top seven runners from last year's state qualifying team. They are still a young team with most of their top runners being juniors. Led by the Patel twins, both ran sub 16:00 last year. Ishan Patel will look to be an all-stater this season. After a strong track season, Dylan Hanson will be knocking on the sub 16:00 door this season.

Head Coach/Coaches: Daniel Dziubski / Adam Palumbo
Last Year's Finish: 7th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Ritvik Viniak (Sr.), Tristan Zhu (So.), Gavin Lee (Jr.), Aiden Hu-Lowenthal (Jr.), Max Harris (Sr.), Maximilian Kollmeyer (Sr.)
New Additions: Declan Slavin (Fr.)
Summary: The Grizzlies had a great run last year on both the state and national levels in the 4x800m. They will look to continue that success this year as well. Led by Ritvik Viniak, they already have an all-stater in their lineup and may have another one in Gavin Lee. He has had an awesome summer according to Coach Dziubski. Following him will be a flurry of other runners with the potential to break out.

Head Coach: Scott Nelson
Last Year's Finish: 11th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Andrew Hernandez (Sr.), Sam Andrzejewski (Sr.), Daniel O'Connell (Sr.), Charlie Coyle (Jr.), Brendan Spahn (Jr.), Joseph Kolker (Jr.), James Keegan (Jr.)
Summary: This squad will have a very strong 1-4 pack. Hernandez, Andrzejewski, O'Connell, and Coyle all will be looking to break 16:00 this season. They all had solid track seasons, ones that they will be looking to brush to the side. The key will be the fifth runner for this squad.

Head Coach/Coaches: Doug Gorski / Chris MacTaggart
Last Year's Finish: 12th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Jaden Frederick (Jr.), Caleb Walter (Sr.), Ryan Chung (Sr.), Matthew King (Sr.), Ben Zima (Sr.), Tim Jochum (Sr.), Luke VanTholen (So.)
New Additions: Michael Bailey
Summary: The Raiders look strong heading into this cross country with some big goals. "We hope to three-peat as the UpState8 Conference Champions this year. Improve on our 4th and 5th place finishes at the Regional and Sectional meets. Make the State meet as a team for the 4th year in a row and improve on our 12th place finish at Detweiller last year", said Coach Gorski. They will be led up front by the trio of Frederick, Walter, and Chung. Most notably Frederick is coming off a huge track season that saw him run 10:04 in the 3200m. Walter and Chung both ran sub 16:00 last season. Matthew King looks to be an excellent 4th runner after running 10:29 on the track. Then we will have to see who emerges as their 5th runner as they have a few guys in contention.

Head Coach: Judd Shutt
Last Year's Finish: 9th place- Woodstock North Sectional
Key Returners: Will Gelon (Jr.), Evan Gilleland (Jr.), Eddy Klimkowski (Jr.), Daniell Cardenas (Jr.), Ian Mahon (Sr.), Gerrit Dam (Jr.), Kevin Degroot (Jr.)
Summary: The Wolves are coming off the track season with some good goals according to Coach Shutt, "our varsity squad is dominated by a strong junior class and several seniors. I hope that having 10+ guys that can reasonably challenge for a varsity spot will propel us to a very strong season. Will Gelon, our #1 man, gained experience at Peoria last season and his teammates are hungry to join him this year.

"We had a subpar race at Sectionals last year and only missed qualifying by a few points. Those few points are a constant reminder that every day counts. After Will, we have a good group of guys that can race as a tight pack this season. We are all excited about our potential this year." With four runners that were sub 4:50 on the track last season, this will be a very interesting team with tons of potential.

Head Coach/Coaches: Chad Clarey / Clayton Brundige
Last Year's Finish: 4th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Evan Nosek (So.), David Valkanov (Jr.), Trevor Neal (Sr.), Brady Babka (Sr.), Zachary Murdock (So.), Adam Smith (Sr.)
New Additions: Evan Whildin (Fr.)
Summary: The Knights have had a nice run as one of the best teams in the 2A classification over the past few years and continue that tradition as they return a young but experienced team. Coach Chad Clarey said that this squad may go through some growing pains to start the season, "our team will take some lumps early in the season as we try to allow varsity runners a chance to grow into their new roles on the team. We have some solid juniors and seniors who will carry the load throughout the season, and we will see what we can achieve with our younger runners blending in when the time is right. The Class 2A field will be pretty well balanced across the State this season."

This squad is led by Evan Nosek who was an all-stater last year taking 21st at Detweiller. According to Clarey, Nosek has been progressing nicely this summer after having an injury at the end of the track season. Valkanov and Neal will look to both dip under the 16:00 barrier this season with Valkanov looking good on the oval this spring, running 10:07 for 3200m. Babka looks to be a very solid #4 runner and Zachary Murdock has progressed well over recent months. The big wildcard will be freshman Evan Whildin who ran great in 8th grade last year, going 5:01 in the 1600m.

3. Morton
Head Coach/Coaches: Joseph Zeller / Bridget Carius, Joel Zehr
Last Year's Finish: 3rd place- State Championship
Key Returners: Yonas Wuthrich (Jr.), Josh Weeks (Jr.), Layton Knoop (Jr.), Chase Sauder (Sr.), Nicholas Delgado (Jr.), Phillip Canopy (So.), Sam Yontz (Sr.)
Summary: "After last year, the boys are coming into the season feeling that they have some unfinished business. At different points, this group of boys has expressed the want and the motivation to achieve something impressive this year, but those first few weeks of official practice will tell us if their work has matched that desire.", says Coach Zeller.

The Potters will be looking to redeem themselves after taking 3rd place at the state meet last year after returning all seven members from their team that won the ShaZam Championships in 2020. They will be led by the trio of Wuthrich, Weeks, Sauder, and Knoop who are potentially the best four-man combo of any team in 2A.

Head Coach: John Brady / Mateo Nunez
Last Year's Finish: 5th place- State Championship
Key Returners: Cooper Marrs (Jr.), Jack O'Brien (Jr.), Hayden Marrs (Jr.), William Kallas (Jr.), Zack Gaynor (Sr.), Brady Norman (So.), Brennan Lester (Jr.)
Summary: The Bulldogs will look to finally make the push for a state trophy after two years of being the team right on the cusp of one. With Coach Brady's response on what their team goal is, confirming that, "win Conference, qualify for the state meet, and make a run for a Trophy. Stay Healthy!!"

They are led by returning all-state runner Cooper Marrs who placed 22nd at the state meet last year. We will have to see how he runs this year after not running track this past year. Jack O'Brien is an all-state hopeful after an amazing track season. He showed massive strides, running 10:08 for 3200m. Brady Norman also had a breakout track season running 10:14 as a freshman and may have an outside chance at a top 25 spot come November. Hayden Marrs, William Kallas, and Zack Gaynor will round out the scoring runners and will look to be a very tight pack.