Arguably the top relay performance of 2022 was the section 3 race at the DGS Mustang Relays
2022 TOP PERFORMERS
Hinsdale Central - As we stand today the Red Devils enter the season as the best team in the land of Lincoln. This squad last year went out to Nike Outdoor Nationals and set a new Illinois state record and US#1 blistering thriller 7:32.14. They do lose one of the best legs of that team in Colby Revord. However, they return an incredibly talented trio of Dan Watcke, Aden Bandukwala, and Michael Skora.
Watcke is coming off a stellar cross country season that saw him take third at the IHSA 3A State Meet as well as take 28th at Team Nationals. The University of Oregon signee is back at his home on the track. With a personal best of 1:50.34 and the 2021 state title in the event, surely at this point, he is considered the best half-miler runner in the state.
Bandukwala had a massive cross country season that saw him take home the state individual crown. "Bunny" produced the second fastest split on the Nike Nationals Outdoors- blistered the track with a 1:52.29 split.
Skora was a pivotal unit member that earned a spot on the state and national championship units. Look for him to rise up even more during the undercover season.
The question will be who is their #4? Grant Miller and Kyle Doorhy were names that were in that 4x800m at the sectional meet. Miller was part of this squad that took 2nd in the state last year. They will surely be in the running.
Also, watch out for names like Maxwell Lowe and Jesse Gamboa who had great cross country seasons. Watch for them to load this relay up at the DGS Mustang Relays in the beginning of March.
Plainfield South - This squad had a disappointing 2022 campaign for this relay as they did not break the 8:00 barrier. After a cross country team state title and some amazing times already ran this indoor season, this should change. The Cougars have depth this year with Camyn Viger, Ethan Reynoso, Gavin Borger, and Owen O'Shea running awesome early this season.
Viger was one of the top athletes during cross country running 14:22.80 early in the season at the FTTF Invite in Peoria. Near the end of the season, Viger did show some fatigue by only placing 11th at the state meet. How did he respond? By running 1:54.57 at the Twilight Indoor Meet in early January. Following up on that performance he ran 4:18.63 for the full mile at the CYUP Misfits Invite.
Reynoso had some difficulties at the Twilight Meet in the 800m only running 2:04.91. He showed much better than that performance running 4:24.60 in the 1600m at home on a 178m track. Watch for Reynoso, who was part of their state-qualifying 4x800m back in 2021. He will be the difference-maker this season.
Borger has been one of the biggest surprises of the early indoor season. Running 1:57.54 at the Twilight meet and 2:32.10 for the 1000m at the CYUP Misfits Invite for the win.
O'Shea may be the most versatile athlete on the Cougars' squad with an all-state medal in the 4x400m and nearly being an all-state cross country runner. He ran 2:33.03 in that same 1000m race at CYUP Misfits Invite.
Names like BJ Sorg, Dylan Maloney, and Jack Wright have all gone sub 4:30 in the 1600m already this season and maybe runners we see on this relay throughout the season.
Naperville Central - This squad will be sneaky this season. The Redhawks much like other teams return an exceptional amount of talent from their squad last year. They will be led by the trio of Foster Shelbert, Luke Noren, and Samuel Barnard.
Shelbert may be one of the breakout athletes of the 2023 track season. He has an insane amount of speed running 48.84 on their all-state 4x400m team from last year. Shelbert was one of this squad's top legs last season running 1:56.80 on their prelim team. He matched that time already this season in an amazing 800m and 600m double at York, going 1:56.83 and 1:24.85.
Noren is another athlete that has an exceptional amount of potential. He ran 1:55.74 on last year's team at the state finals to help them get 6th place. He holds a 1600m PR of 4:14.90.
Barnard much like Shelbert has already had a red-hot start to his season. He ran 1:57.14 at their first meet at York. That mark is just off his 4x800m split at the state meet where he went 1:57.01.
There are a few options for the fourth runner with Nick Kamp, Julian Brozek, Payton Etzel, and Tyler Browning all being options that could be close to 2:00 and maybe break the barrier this indoor season.
Downers Grove North - The 3rd place team in cross country returns all four members of their all-state relay from a year ago. After a trip to Team Nationals as an at-large team, this squad could be even hungrier than a lot expected. Ryan Eddington, Zachary Bender, Caden Weber, and Leo Gartlan were the four that were a part of that team last year.
Eddington was the fastest split on the 4x800m last year running 1:56.68 in finals. He also is a great 1600m with a time of 4:20.64
Weber split a 1:59.00, but with a 1600m PR of 4:19.56. The thought is that Weber has barely scratched the surface of his 800m potential. Weber and Eddington were both all-state during cross country.
Bender and Gartlan both ran sub 2:00 last year and will be looking to improve on those marks this season. Topher Ferris and Grant Schroder are two athletes that we could potentially see a challenge for those final two spots this year as well.
Chicago (Lane Tech) - The Champions will be a compelling team to watch this season with just one returner back from their all-state relay from last season. Possibly Hunter Whitney and offshoot Will Kozlowski will lead this relay.
Whitney will be a question mark as we start the season after an injury-filled cross country season saw him not compete at the level that he wanted to. He hasn't had the best start to his season this year but, expect him to find his footing as the season continues. He is the fastest returning split from last year's relay, going 1:57.32 in finals. He is also a 1600m all-stater from last season as he ran 4:12.98.
Kozlowski has had success in the 1600m and looks like he will be called upon this track season to be a part of the relay unit. He has already run 2:00.88 at the Dr. Conrad Worrill Invite. Paired with his 4:24.55 1600m PR, Kozlowski will be an awesome piece for this relay.
As we stand here today, Anan Bauman will look to be the final part of this relay and could potentially be the best runner on the relay at the end of the season. Kyle Smorynski is expected to be a crucial member of the relay this winter.
Orland Park Sandburg - We could not forget the powerhouse that has been the Eagle's juggernaut over the last two decades. They return only one member of their state championship team from last season but have a tendency to reload phenomenally. This squad will be led by Trent Anderson and Grant Giblin.
Anderson returns after a great cross country season. He was the third fastest split on last year's relay going 1:56.86 and will be a great #1 option this season.
Giblin had a breakout cross country season taking 6th place in the state. He was a part of their all-state relay back in 2021. He will look to be an excellent leg to their relay this season.
Ibrahim Tineh, Luke Altzman, Evan Diemling, and Mateo Ramiro Garcia all are athletes that will be duking it out for the final two positions.
Honorable Mentions: Naperville (Neuqua Valley), O'Fallon, Gurnee (Warren), Oswego East, Chicago St. Ignatius, Oak Park-River Forest, Lyons Twp., DeKalb, Highland Park, Minooka, Palatine, Elmhurst (York), Prospect, Downers Grove South