Class 2A Boys Preseason XC Previews: #25 To #11

A scene from last year's state championship that was impacted by Mother Nature


This section of the boys' "middle child" section preview is like swimming in an alligator-infested river. If you minimize the situation, it's more than likely that you are finished. Among the teams in this preview are some who pose as dangerous figures like trophy recipients (Chicago Latin- 1A 3rd place, Glenbard South- 3rd in 2A). 

Head Coach/Coaches: Michael Lambdin / David Liszka, Jordan Wilkerson
Last Year's Finish: Kaneland Sectional- 10th place
Key Returners: Naif Al Harby (Sr.), Corey Goff (Jr.), John Cerny (Sr.), Phoenix Calabrese (Jr.), Logan Jones (So.), Kaiden Von Schnase (Jr.), Nate Burgess (So.), Devin Karda (Jr.), Bruno Wilkerson (Jr.), Liam Berry (So.)
Key Newcomers: Luke Miller (Fr.), Josh Miller (Fr.)
Outlook: The Spartans have had a great run over the last few years. They missed out on the state meet last year and will be looking to return this season. Corey Goff and Naif Al Harby look to lead this squad this year with both expected to have potential all-state seasons. Goff had an amazing track season where he ran 4:27 in the 1600m. He just missed the 2A state finals in the event with a 14th-place finish. Al Harby just missed all-state status in 2022 with a 27th-place finish. Expect him to have a chip on his shoulder as he enters this season. John Cerny returns with some experience as he was this squad's fifth runner last year. This team will need him to step up and run in the low 16:00s.

Coach Lambdin stated, "The teams in our area were so strong last year and a number of them were young, returning many runners this year. If we hope to compete with them, we need to focus on ourselves. We have to improve if we are going to challenge those powerful squads"

Head Coach/Coaches: Steve Walters
Last Year's Finish: Chatham Glenwood Sectional- 15th place
Key Returners: Owen Morgan (Sr.), Jack Chesser (Sr.), Brenton Good (Sr.), Jesse Sloan (Sr.), Tyler Corpin (So.), Alex Davis (So.), Ross Brown (So.)
Key Newcomers: Liam Bettis (Fr.), Logan Halligan (Fr.)
Outlook: The Tornados have never qualified for a state meet as a team. This might be the year that it finally could happen. They will be led by last year's state qualifier, Owen Morgan. Morgan had a great track season after his 81st-place finish at the state meet in November. He ran 4:23 in the 1600m and expects to be one of the top runners in the classification.

Next will look to be standout freshman Liam Bettis who had an amazing middle school career. He ran 2:02 in the 800m and 4:36 in the 1600m over the track season. He looks poised to be a potential all-stater. Jesse Sloan projects to be the squad's third runner. He ran 10:23 over the track season in the 3200m and projects to be a low 16s runner this season.

Head Coach/Coaches: Dan Daly / Ryan Hopper, Jim Spivey, Rachell DaDamio, Clayton Mendez
Last Year's Finish: 1A State Meet- 3rd place
Key Returners: Benjamin Gibson (Jr.), Daniel Goodman Chicago (Jr.), Jack Lyons (Jr.), Miles Daly (Jr.), Charlie Steffen (Sr.), Tucker Thayer (So.), Jack Ramsey (So.), Myles Levine (Jr.)
Outlook: The Romans have seen great success in the last few years at the 1A level. This year they are elevated to the 2A classification and return some strong pieces that will keep them competitive at this level.

The Romans have potentially two all-staters in Ben Gibson and Daniel Goodman. Gibson was an all-stater in his first two years of high school, so he brings a lot of experience running up near the front of the pack. Goodman is a little newer to the scene, but did finish 29th at the 1A state meet last year. He ran great over the track season with a mark of 9:56 in the 3200m.

Jack Lyons and Miles Daly will be next up. Lyons lost the end of his season last year to injury, expect him to really try and show what he has to offer this go around. Daly was the sixth runner on this team last year and will be depended on greatly this season. Charlie Steffan looks to be the fifth man. He had an injury-filled season in 2022. He will run a lot better this time around.

Coach Daly stated, "This is a great group of returning athletes who have had great success at the 1A level the past two years and are now looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish in 2A"

Head Coach/Coaches: Todd Ehlert / Jeff Brown, Don Fredericks, Tess Fredericks
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 23rd place
Key Returners: Dylan Gehl (Jr.), Sam Mosbarger (Sr.), Jaxson Sottos (So.), Max Johnson (Jr.), Aidan Bries (So.), Kaden Elmer (So.), Rylan Lambert (Jr.), Christian Haney (Jr.),
Key Newcomers: Jack Kreiss (Fr.), Micah Johnson (Fr.)
Unexpected Losses: Cooper Schaad (Sr.)
Outlook: The Maple Leafs have now qualified for the state meet the last two years as a team and will be aiming to get down for a third time. Dylan Gehl will lead the charge for this group after having a standout track season. He was an all-stater in the 3200m with a mark of 9:33. He could potentially be a top ten runner in the classification. Jaxson Sottos had a massive breakout track season where he has shown that he projects to be the number two runner on this squad. Sottos ran an amazing 4:42 in the 1600m for a freshman. He may be able to dip under 16:00 this season.

Max Johnson and Sam Mosbarger both return in similar roles that they were in last year. Both projects to be under 16:30 and look to be quality athletes for their roles. The key for this group will be their fifth man if one of their additional three state qualifiers can close the gap on Johnson and Mosberger. This group could then potentially be a top 20 team in the classification.

Head Coach/Coaches: Travis Shepherd / Christine Zucker, Dan Jazo
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 18th place
Key Returners: Payton Whitehead (Sr.), Jackson Summy (Jr.), Blake Salbilla (Jr.), Brady Mock (Jr.), Liam Makela (Sr.), Matthew Powley (Jr.), Henry Morgan (Jr.), Rheese Rieb (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Cooper Summy (Fr.), Reese Mock (Fr.), Lawson Caruth (Fr.), Aiden Hauca (Fr.)
Outlook: The Eagles return five members of their state qualifying team and will be seeking to be a top 20 team in the state again. Payton Whitehead has been a great 800m runner over the last few years and this may be his time to really show some range. He ran 4:32 in the 1600m during his only attempt at the distance over the season. If his season goes well, he could be an outside chance at being an all-stater based on his 800m pedigree.

Jackson Summy really came into his own over the track season. He ran 10:04 in the 3200m and qualified for the state meet in the event. He is the top returner from last year's squad and should be ready to have a great junior campaign. Blake Salbilla and Brady Mock should be next up. Both were the fourth and fifth runners on last year's team. They are potentially both sub-16:30 runners. Wrapping up the scoring five looks to be Liam Makela who has been having a great summer according to Coach Shepherd. If he can be up with Salbilla and Mock then this will be an interesting squad to watch this season. They could be a top-15 squad.

Coach Shepherd stated, "The last two seasons have been successful with both squads qualifying for state. This year though, two major contributors have graduated Micah Lind and Quin Maloney. While the incoming Juniors have significant postseason experience, we are young and largely unproven. Micah and Quin set the tone and this group has yet to develop an identity and lack defined leadership. All of that said, I think that this team can be better than the last two years. We have a mix of strong talent returning and quality incoming athletes. We have four freshmen who were top runners in middle school with state meet experience. We will be successful this year if our Juniors continue to develop and one or two freshmen can make an impact."

Head Coach/Coaches: Steven Kesler / Guthrie Hood
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 13th place
Key Returners: Caleb Mathias (So.), Fynn Bright (Sr.), Jakob Riley (Jr.), Jonathan Smith (Sr.), Enrique Beuschlein (Jr.), Austin Ritter (So.), Nikolas Kesler (So.), Noah Green (So.), Ben Sutton (Sr.), Nik Kesler (So.), Nate Davis (So.)
Key Newcomers: Simon Campbell (Fr.)
Outlook: The Maroons have been on a roll over the last few years and had a great finish to their year last year with a 13th-place finish at the state meet. They look to be led by the duo of Caleb Mathias and Fynn Bright. Mathias was the top guy on this team last year as a freshman. He is a returning all-stater from last year with a 24th-place finish. After a 15th-place finish in the 3200m at track state, you could expect a similar result on the grass. Bright had a phenomenal track season as he ran 4:24 in the 1600m and 9:39 in the 3200m. He was 71st in the classification last year and was this squad's third runner. He could be a top 15 finisher in the state alongside Mathias.

Jakob Riley looks to be a solid third runner on this squad this year. He also had a breakout track season as he ran 4:37 in the 1600m during the track season. After that, the Maroons will need to see some development over their fourth and fifth runners if they wish to return to the level they were at last year.

Coach Kesler stated, "Although we lost three of our top six runners from last season (all were major contributors to our success in the '21 and '22 seasons), I think we expect to compete at a similar level to where we were last season. We have a solid group of upperclassmen who are committed to filling those gaps and some talented young guys as well. I'd hope we could be in the running for the Big 12 conference championship, and perhaps our regional as well. I think if our guys continue on their trajectory we have a great chance to qualify for state as a team again this year."

Head Coach/Coaches: Benjamin Page
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 27th place
Key Returners: Sam Tellefson (Sr.), Charlie Borlin (Jr.), Brice Banning (Sr.), Owen Spiezio (So.), Jacob Borlin (Sr.), Ethan Kopinski (Jr.), Elijah Mann (So.), Jacob Hall (Jr.), Seth Larsen (So.)
Key Newcomers: Owen Moehle (Fr.)
Outlook: The Panthers have been fortunate enough to qualify for the state meet over the last two years. They look to return with another great squad this year as they return two of their athletes in Fisher Rinkenberger and Milo Rinkenberger. Fisher should be in the hunt for the team's top squad member. He ran a great mark of 9:55 over the track for the 3200m. With him looks to be Sam Tellefson who also had a great track season. He covered 1600m in 4:31 just a few months ago. Brice Banning ran 4:42 in the 1600m during the spring. He looks to be a low 16:00 runner this year. The same goes for Charlie Borlin who was the team's top finisher at the state meet. He doesn't run track for the Panthers, so he will be a wildcard entering this season. Milo will look to be the fifth runner on this squad. He will be challenging the 16:30 mark.

Head Coach/Coaches: Trace Turner / Robert Grider
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 25th place
Key Returners: Trey Mygatt (Sr.), Evan Taylor (Jr.), Branden Etheridge (Sr.), Caedmon Cook (Sr.), Rowan Wilford (So.), Joel Hayes (So.), Eli Johnston (So.), Trace Elliot (So.)
Outlook: The Rams qualified for the state meet last year which marked the first time this squad made it down to Detweiller since 2000. They look to be led by last season's #1 runner, Trey Mygatt. He ran great in early October, dropping a mark of 15:36 at the Peoria Invite on October 1st. Mygatt will look to finish the season stronger than he did last year, he could be a potential all-stater if he maintains a great season.

Caedmon Cook had a great start to 2023 for him as he covered 1600m in 4:35 and proved that he looks to have a massive breakout season. He was the fifth man on this team last season. Evan Taylor and Brenden Etheridge are the next two up. They are both so close to each other, with the biggest example being at the state meet. Etheridge placed 134th and Taylor placed 136th, Both should be running in the low 16s at least. After that, they will need to see either Rowan Wilford, Joel Hayes, or Eli Johnston to step up and run under 16:30.

Head Coach/Coaches: Mike Garber / Lindsay Cook, Grant Kaiser
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 19th place
Key Returners: Will Patzia (Jr.), Brady Moser (So.), Carter Simmons (Jr.), Ayden Groves (Sr.), Mason Daley (Jr.), Edward Wilson (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Van Schneider (So.)
Outlook: The Titans are only a few years removed from their state championship squad. This might be a squad more geared for 2024, but they can easily be a top-10 threat this season. They will be led by new cross country runner, Van Schneider. He ran 1:58 in the 800m and 4:30 in the 1600m over the track season. He decided to join the team this fall. Will Patzia projects to be this squad's second man. He qualified for the state meet placing 115th. He was the top dog on last year's squad. Wrapping up their scoring five will be Brady Moser, Carter Simmons, and Ayden Groves. All look to be 16 low runners and could be the key to this team's progress. Coach Garber stated, "Our boys look to return to the 2017, 2018, and 2019 ways this season. We've rebuilt and reloaded with some hard work and desire. I'm really looking forward to seeing them push for top spots in every race we compete in."

Head Coach/Coaches: Gregory Hendrix
Last Year's Finish: Kaneland Sectional- 13th place
Key Returners: Dale Johnson (Sr.), Parker Janssen (Sr.), Jordan Britt (Sr.), Aalin Schmidt (Jr.), Parker Blakeslee (Jr.), Brecken Peterson (Sr.), Charles Johnson (So.), Owen Anderson (Sr.)
Key Newcomers: Denver Sandrock (Fr.), Isaiah Rojop (Fr.)
Outlook: The Golden Warriors have not qualified for the state meet as a team since 2016. They are led by superstar runner Dale Johnson. He had a great track season that saw him run 4:17 in the 1600m and 9:08 in the 3200m. The front running Johnson also took 2nd place at the state meet last fall. 

Parker Janssen was the team's third runner last year and should be ready to make a big impact on the grass based on the great track season where he ran 4:35 in the 1600m. It would be surprising to see him not run under 16:00.

Jordan Britt looks to be close to him with him being the number two runner on last year's squad. He looks to be sub 16:00 as well this season after going 16:03 last year. Aalin Schmidt had a great track season that saw him run 10:24 in the 3200m. Expect him to be a low 16s runner this season. Rounding out their scoring should be Owen Anderson who had a great track season in the 800m. He has been on a decline since running 17:22 as a freshman. Expect him to want to finish out his career strong.

Head Coach/Coaches: Kelly Fox
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 9th place
Key Returners: Julian Baker (Sr.), Daniel Grauer (Jr.), Mark Mavis (So.), Lyncoln Koester (Jr.), Isaac Carpenter (Sr.), Aiden Mulgrew (So.), Caj Reed (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Zak Means (Fr.), Corin Etchison (Fr.)
Outlook: The Braves wrapped up the 2022 campaign with a top-10 performance at the state finals. They enter the season with six of those seven returning members from last year's group. They will be led by senior Julian Baker who is coming off an amazing 2022 campaign. Baker finished third at the state meet last year and looks to be one of the best runners in the classification. After Baker will be the group of three with Daniel Grauer, Mark Mavis, and Lyncoln Koester all looking to be right by one another. This group should be interchangeable this season. All will be sub-16:00 runners.

Head Coach/Coaches: Bill Eschman / Brian Seaver
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 15th place
Key Returners: Aiden Shulfer (Sr.), Jackson Hopkins (Jr.), Nate Peyer (Sr.), Brady Sterzik (Sr.), Jackie Clark (Jr.), Mason Alvarez (Jr.), Eli Irwin (Jr.), Adam Kyrouac (Jr.), Jaxon Schraut (Sr.), Miles Richmond (Sr.)
Key Newcomers: Ethan McMahon (Fr.)
Unexpected Losses: Nolan Hollander (Jr.)
Outlook: The Tigers have the current longest streak in the 2A classification of qualifying to state for three years. Aiden Shulfer is the team's second returner from last year's squad where he took 62nd place. He ran great in the 3200m during the spring with a PR of 9:54.

Jackson Hopkins, Nate Peyer, and Brady Sterzik will be the group that is next up. They will be closely packed up this season with all of them looking to be under 16:00. All of them ran great over the track season and look to be a lot better than they were last year.

Coach Eschman stated, "I believe if this team can learn to be competitive, consistent, and committed, we have a chance to be at the top of our conference and qualify for the state meet."

Head Coach/Coaches: Chad Clarey / Clayton Brundige, Jake Kaufman
Last Year's Finish: Kaneland Sectional- 8th place
Key Returners: Evan Nosek (Jr.), David Valkanov (Sr.), Evan Whildin (So.), Zachary Murdock (Jr.), Collin Reutimann (Sr.), Liam Lentz (Jr.), Jack Polloway (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Ricky Anderson (Fr.), Sahel Torres (Fr.), Jessub Hardy (Fr.), Nathan Kowalczyk (Fr.), Nolan Reutimann (Fr.), Zavier Nothnagel (Fr.), Joey Schuch (Fr.)
Unexpected Losses: Eric Escobedo, Chase Brennan (Sr.)
Outlook: The Knights enter the season missing the state meet. They look to change that this year by staying healthy as the season progresses. They will be led by the duo of David Valkanov and Evan Nosek who aim to place within the top 10 at the season's end at the state meet- both ran 9:26 and 9:27 in the 3200m during the track season. Those marks earned them all-state in the event in May. Nosek has been all-state in each of his first two years of high school; he finished 7th last season.

Next up will be Evan Whildin and Zachary Murdock who both broke 10:20 during track for the 3200m. Both could potentially break 16:00 this season. Collin Reutimann will wrap up the scoring for this squad. This squad's main focus will be getting him under 16:30 in order to solidify their squad as one of the best in the classification.

Coach Clarey stated, "The Knights are looking for some new pieces to add to the mix. If our front 3-4 can stay healthy, we can compete with a lot of teams. We will look to Reutimann to fill the #5 spot, and he had a terrific spring and summer. Nosek and Valkanov have teamed up for many of their training runs throughout the summer. Whildin is right on their heels in most workouts. Our depth is a concern, and we will need to manage all the finer details of training to keep the whole group primed for the important races of October and beyond"

Head Coach/Coaches: Doug Gorski / Chris MacTaggart
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 3rd place
Key Returners: Jaden Frederick (Sr.), Tim Jochum (Sr.), Lucas Newman (Sr.), Michael Bailey (Sr.), Ben Zima (Sr.), Logan Price (Jr.), Luke VanTholen (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Tom Jochum (Fr.)
Outlook: The Raiders had a great season in 2022 that saw them bring home a state trophy. Jaden Frederick looks to lead this squad after an all-state campaign last season where he took 25th. He ran great over the track season as he barely missed all-state in the 3200m with a 10th place finish running 9:36. Expect that to fuel him this season. He may challenge for a top 10 finish come November.
Tim Jochum barely missed all-state status in 2022 as he placed 31st. He looks to be in a primed position to be in that conversion. Especially after running 4:28 in the 1600m during the spring. Michael Bailey and Lucas Newman will be the next guys up. Both project to be low 16:00s runners this campaign. Bailey really improved during the track season as he ran 4:42 for the 1600m. Wrapping up the scoring five looks to be Ben Zima who had a good season up until the state meet last year. He provides experience at the highest level as this squad's fifth man.

Coach Gorski stated, "We hope to four-peat as the UpState8 Conference Champions. Make the 2A State meet as a team for the 5th year in a row"

Head Coach/Coaches: Jay Fuller / Bill Macauley, Sarah Bellavia
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 12th place
Key Returners: Ishan Patel (Sr.), Aryan Patel (Sr.), Jakob Crown (Sr.), Cohen Shutt (Sr.), Charlie Baker (Sr.), Ellery Shutt (So.), Braedon Schwanke (So.), Jayden Peterson (Sr)
Outlook: The Blue Streaks finished just outside of the top 10 in classification last season and will be hoping that this is the year that they achieve that feat.

Ishan Patel leads this group of returners with an all-state honor, taking 12th. He enters this season with the potential to finish within the top 10 finishers in November based on his performance last year. Aryan Patel just missed all-state status last season with a 29th-place finish. After breaking 10:00 in the 3200m during the track season, he appears ready this fall.

Ellery Shutt had a good freshman season as he covered three miles in 17:08. He took a massive jump over the track season and could be a highly-rated member of this squad. He ran 4:34 for the 1600m at Distance Night in Palatine. Expect him to be close in proximity to Aryan.

Jakob Crown also stepped up big time over the track season with a 10:10 performance in the 3200m. He comes into this season as a potential sub-16:00 runner and will be an excellent fourth man for this squad. Wrapping up the scoring five will be either Cohen Shutt or Charlie Baker will both project to be in the low to mid 16s. These two bring lots of experience to the squad from the last two years. They will be interchangeable through much of the season.