We begin the final destination of the preseason cross country previews with the select unranked section. There are some quality teams that return in a rebuild, resurgence, or steady-state mode. This preview contains several traditional powers who have won many state titles collectively.
Check out and enjoy each capsule below.
Head Coach/Coaches: Christopher Kuntz/ Craig Lawrence
Last Year's Finish: State Championship- 13th place
Outlook: The Tigers enter this season with only two individuals returning from a top-15 team last season. Josiah Narayanan had his time as the squad's top runner in a few meets last season. He was the team's third man at the state meet last year placing 79th. After a great track season that saw him run 9:37 in the 3200m, he looks to be the top dog.
Aiden Noel was the team's seventh runner for almost all of last season. He will be depended on as the #3 guy. He ran 4:34 in the 1600m and 9:54 in the 3200m during the spring. Angelo Ruggio was the eighth runner on this team last year and made massive strides over the track season. He finished his season running 10:05 in the 3200m and really showed that he will be a dependable guy for the Tigers.
Jayden Bauer looks to be the next man up here as he ran 2:00 in the 800m over the track season. He should be around the 16:00 barrier, potentially even under. Jack Ruswick is the projected fifth runner. He took 10th in the open race at the Richard Spring Invite as he ran a PR of 16:29. They will need him to drop under 16:00 if they wish to qualify for the state meet.
Head Coach/Coaches: John O'Malley / Charlie Tarjan, Jeff Jonaitis, Judy McAuliffe, Ann Marie McGuire, Marc O'Neal, Tom Novak
Last Year's Finish: Waubonsie Valley Sectional- 9th place
Outlook: The Eagles are coming off a season that saw them miss out on the state meet, unfortunately. They will now enter a rebuild that will probably take a few years until they return to a top-10 squad level.
Grant Giblin will be one of the best runners in the classification. He finished sixth at the state meet last fall and don't be surprised if he wounds up as one of the premier harriers this fall.
Luke Atzman will be this squad's #2 guy. He ran 9:50 for the 3200m during the track season and made it down to the state meet for valuable experience. He should be a low 15:00s runner.
Mateo Ramiro Garcia and Jackson Canellis will be the next two runners up with both gaining valuable experience over the track season. Both athletes were part of the Eagles all-state 4x800m. With both entering their sophomore year, expect both to break the 16:00 barrier. They will need someone to really break out and step up as the squad's fifth man.
Head Coach/Coaches: Kevin Christian / Chris Keller, Matt Smith, Kala Penev
Last Year's Finish: Hoffman Estates Sectional- 8th place
Key Runners: Andrew Beyer
(Sr.), Matthew Andreano
(Sr.), Max Sudrzynski
(Jr.), Isaac Pepin
(Jr.), Jake Fetting
(Sr.), Michael Moore
(Jr.), Charlie Mason
(Sr.), Austin Stevenson
(So.), Ethan Aichholz
(Sr.), Omar Uddin
(Sr.), Isaac Cartwright
Coach Christian's Outlook: The Golden Eagles will be led by a big top four this year with returning state qualifier Andrew Beyer, and state track qualifiers Matt Andreano, Max Sudrzynski, and Isaac Pepin.
Beyer and Andreano are ahead of where they were last year and should be among the top guys in the Fox Valley Conference. Sudrzynski had a breakout track season and will be as strong of a 3rd runner as we've ever had.
Isaac Pepin went 16:05 last year, joining the season late, so adding in a quality summer for him will have him move up even more. After that, we will have a season-long quest for a 5th runner.
Jake Fetting, Omar Udding, Michael Moore, and Ethan Aichholz put in big summers and are looking to fill that spot. Injured in track, Fetting still managed to run a 4:49 and now that he's healthy he will be the best candidate.
Head Coach/Coaches: Jeff Purdom / Emily Brodko, Kyle Draghi
Last Year's Finish: Minooka Regional- 7th place
Coach Purdom's Outlook: The story for our team will be the solid three seniors up front and then how well the underclassmen can step up to fill in those next few spots. Our top three should be very competitive, Schick, Arce, and Matson train shoulder to shoulder every day and all three have confidence coming into the season after a strong track season. The goal for the team is to compete well as a team at the IHSA State Championship.
Head Coach/Coaches: Matt Zaluckyj / Dan Hays, Eli Blase
Last Year's Finish: Hoffman Estates Sectional- 9th place
Key Newcomers: Jack Jennings (Fr.), David Moore (Fr.)
Coach Zaluckyj's Outlook: After finishing ninth at the sectional last year, we had a very strong track season. We lost only three of our top 20 from last year and had another solid freshman group. A group of 15 guys can challenge for a varsity spot this year. On top of our returning varsity runners, Arjun Shah and Tom and Joe Johnston have put in some significant work coming off strong track seasons. They will all look to grab a top seven spot and if they don't it is because they pushed others in workouts to improve as well.
Head Coach/Coaches: Nathan Roe / Sean Frintner, David Christensen
Last Year's Finish: State Championship- 21st place
Key Runners: Aidan Murphy
(Jr.), Jude Hubbard
(Sr.), Luke Haworth
(Jr.), Isaac Schuda
(Sr.), Quinn Murphy
(Jr.), Daniel Xochitecatl (So.), Jacob Sanders (So.), Jack Syme (Sr.), Luke Ranft (Sr.), Donovan Lake (Sr.), Seth Pacer (So.), Jackson Schmela (Sr.)
Coach Roe's Outlook: The overall outlook for this year is a team looking to do things it's never done before. This applies to many areas of training, competition, and team culture. We will be solid with experience through four on varsity, then will depend on some newer guys to step into those scoring roles. We won't be a large team (probably around 40) but should have good overall quality. The guys have really put in a good summer and seem ready for the challenges that await them.
Head Coach: George Patrylak
Last Year's Finish: Normal Community Sectional- 10th place
: Ben Perulfi (Sr.), Hugh Davis (Jr.), Jackson Amick (Jr.), Jack Paty (So.), Colin Thomas (So.), Mathew Lueking (So.), Jackson Elliot (So.), Taylor Davis (So.), Cooper Wittek (So.), Alex Uder (Sr.), Austin Yamnitz (Sr.), Daniel Story (Jr.), Parker Weaver (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Colin Luitjohan (Fr.)
Coach Patrylak's Outlook: I anticipate our team being led by senior Ben Perufli and juniors, Hugh Davis and Jackson Amick. These three were our most consistent runners during cross country and track and field last year. All three have been working hard and should have a chance to qualify, even if our team does not.
Last year we had our deepest freshmen class I have coached, with seven runners running sub 5:00 during track. I look forward to seeing many of these current sophomores making a big impact on our team. From this group, I anticipate the following sophomores fighting for varsity time this season: Jack Paty, Colin Thomas, Mathew Lueking, Jackson Elliott, Taylor Davis, and Cooper Wittek.
I honestly believe we can have four or more sophomores under 16:00 this season. Other runners I anticipate having opportunities at varsity include Alex Uder and Austin Yamnitz, Danny Story, Parker Weaver, and freshman Colin Luitjohan. There may be a few other surprises along the way, as this team really gets along and the team works hard together.
Head Coach/Coaches: James Milner / Derrick Padovich
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 15th place
Coach Milner's Outlook: We're looking to constantly improve throughout the season. This group understands that together they can accomplish great things, so they're going to be looking to tighten up their pack. Making it back to the state meet and having a good showing is high on their list of goals. There is a solid core to this team with state meet experience. We will look to add to the trio of Trivedi, Schultz, and Goduto as the season progresses.
Head Coach/Coaches: Greg Nordahl / Dave Fermanich, Tom d'Ambrosio
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 9th place
Coach Nordahl's Outlook: Our senior and junior classes are very small, and the lack of depth makes it very important that we stay healthy. Thus far this summer we have not been lucky in that department. Right now, our goal is to get healthy. We will start off slow with the recovering athletes, but if things go well we will be very competitive by the end of the season. Our goal will then be to qualify for the state meet.
Head Coach/Coaches: Tanner Beebe
Last Year's Finish: Lake Park Sectional- 10th place
Key Runners: Sam Berlinghof
(Sr.), Alexander Leonard
(Sr.), James Kochanski
(Sr.), Spencer Dixon
(Sr.), Sebastian Garcia
(Sr.), Kenneth Varela
(Sr.), Kyler Kitson
(Sr.), Zach Smaroff
(Jr.), Andrew Nelson
(Sr.), Kristopher White
(Sr.), Nolan Mussatt
Key Newcomers: Matt Richlen (Fr.)
Outlook: This squad has dealt with a lot of injuries over the last year. Sam Berlinghof, Alex Leonard, and James Kochanski all were unable to compete over the track season due to injury.
Berlinghof has reportedly looked great this summer and could make an all-state push. Spencer Dixon just missed breaking 10:00 in the 3200m over the track season. He could be a potential mid-15:00 runner for the Eagles.
Andrew Nelson could be big for this unit after going 1:56 in the 800m during the track season. He did not run last XC season due to an ankle injury. Kenneth Varela had a breakout XC season last fall, he could challenge 16:00.
Sebastian Garcia had a breakout track season going 4:44 in the 1600m. This group has the talent to be a great team but will need everything to go right for them to qualify for the state meet.
Head Coach/Coaches: Rick Durso / Coach Gary, Coach Colin
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 26th place
Key Newcomers: Quinton Richter (Fr.), Evan Johnson (Fr.), Lucas Herrera (Fr.)
Coach Durso's Outlook: This team will build upon the success of last season and improve. We will definitely be in the hunt for the NIC 10 Championship. Our regional has always been a challenge, but we should be able to compete with the top teams. Our Sectional is very competitive, but we feel that we belong in the top seven teams. We expect to be racing in Peoria in November.
Head Coach/Coaches: Matt Kaplan / Jason Monson, Brandy Swanson, Jimmy Jestus
Last Year's Finish: Lake Park Sectional- 8th place
Key Newcomers: Brandon Thompson (Fr.), Nathan Sauber (So.)
Coach Kaplan's Outlook: For the last two seasons, our boy's team has finished 8th at the sectional. This year's group will be led by Nitz, Zuzzio, and Grubbs who all want nothing more than team success in the postseason.
Our team will be led at the front by Tommy Nitz who is coming over another great track season running PRs of 4:20/9:21. Zach Zuzzio is another one of our team leaders and we expect him along with Tommy Nitz to give our team a great 1-2 start for our top 5 scoring. If our group can stay healthy and work to get our top five splits the best it can be, I think this team has the potential to improve on last season's performances.
Head Coach/Coaches: Charlie Kern / Patrick Sheridan, Nick Karavolos
Last Year's Finish: Waubonsie Valley Sectional- 11th place
Key Newcomers: Sam Kehoe (Jr.), Josh Tobin (Jr.)
Coach Kern's Outlook: We are excited to help our student-athletes improve. Assistant coaches Sheridan and Karavolos bring a tremendous amount of specialized knowledge to help our team add strength, skill, and healthy practices. I am so excited to provide them with opportunities to help our team be better athletes.
Improvement is our primary goal. As we continue to improve, we will be more confident when the race opportunities begin in September. We look forward to our very competitive sophomore group (1st Joliet, 1st Richard Spring, 1st Gary Goss, 1st Palatine) learning how to compete at the varsity level. They will have to remain focused on their own improvement while competing against the best varsity teams in the state. A recent post suggested that there will be three conference teams that are in the top 60 in the country! Chasing those teams will only help our overall progress.
Head Coach/Coaches: Kevin Gummerson /Jessica Hopkins, Leslie Hencinski, Matt Clark
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 8th place
: Tyler Herrera
(Sr.), Nico Cimino
(So.), Hayden Host
(Sr.), Nate Schalk
(So.), Liam Anderson
(Sr.), Mason Boles
(Sr.), Daniel Boeringa
(Sr.), Gavin Carlson
(Sr.), Caleb Kies
(Sr.), Sam Cernetich
(Jr.), Jase Cook
Coach Gummerson's Outlook: We are excited to see what this team can accomplish. Obviously, we are losing Zack Balzer. However, it is exciting to see this group of seniors and juniors who have been waiting to take over this team get their chance. We also have a group of sophomores that will have a huge impact on this team.
Not qualifying as a team last year has been a motivating factor in the minds of these athletes all summer and they are determined to take their performances up another level. I really like the schedule that we have set up and the key for this team is to learn from each one of these high powered invitationals we attend.
Head Coach/Coaches: Brian Caldwell / Sean Senf, Greg Maloney
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 16th place
Key Runners: Josh Poeschel
(Sr), Ethan Traugott
(So), T.J. Harvat
(Jr), John Clinton
(So), Anthony Addante
(Sr), Adam Meitz
(Sr), Nick Sadelski
(Sr), Roman Chekanov
(Sr), Billy Neumann
(Jr), Zach Cotner
(Sr), Alec Hanna
Key Newcomers: Conrad Saner (Fr.)
Unexpected Losses: Caidien Beer
Coach Caldwell's Outlook: Our team has its sights set on continuing our streak of Conference Championships (this would be number 11), but are aware that the rest of the WSC Gold will be improved from last year and it'll be no easy task. Beyond that, it's all about the process and just building the culture and putting in the work that puts us in the best possible position to keep our season going.
Most likely, our assignments for the IHSA State Series will be brutal and filled with excellent programs. We look forward to the challenge and hope to surprise some people with how well we run when it matters most as we have the past couple of years.
Head Coach/Coaches: JB Hanson / Courtney May
Last Year's Finish: State Meet- 6th place
Key Runners: George Sabev (Sr.), Dalton Leitz (Sr.), Diego Banuelos (Sr.), Dominik Herdus (Jr.), Owen Holzhauer (So.), Sushant Kesavan (So.), Max Kotelnikov (Sr.), Sawyer Trullinger (Jr.), Edwin Galarza (Jr.), Marc MacCormac (So.), Nishanth Mandavilli (So.), Xavier Weitz (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Luke Marshall (Fr.), Carson Porter (Fr.), Esau Meza (So.)
Outlook: The Bears have been a very successful program as they qualified for the state meet for the last 14 years straight. This year that streak could be in jeopardy with returning very little from last year's squad.
They will be led by George Sabev who will be a question mark for this group. He is the top returner from last year's squad, but injury held him out of last track season and has hampered his summer running.
Dalton Leitz was the seventh man on last year's squad, he will be a potential sub-16:00 runner for this group. After that, there are a lot of question marks as we stand today, but Coach Hanson has always seemed to figure it out and this could be a team that surprises many this fall.
Coach Hanson stated, "We have very little experience and will have many underclassmen that will compete for the first time at the varsity level. While we don't have the frontrunners that we have had in the past, our athletes have been working hard and improving greatly and are ready for high-level competition"
Head Coach/Coaches: Kevin Rafferty /Arlen McCann, Kevin Cox
Last Year's Finish: Hinsdale Central Regional- 9th place
Key Newcomers: Tyler Heap (Sr.)
Outlook: The Warriors have had some great teams over their school history and this fall they will be interesting to watch. They will be led by track breakout athlete Zach Self. He ran a terrific mark of 4:21 in the 1600m in the spring and will be a potential sub-15:00 this fall.
Austin McInturff and Zach Hayden will be two athletes that projected to be mid-15:00 runners for this unit. They also had solid track seasons with marks of 9:55 and 9:56 in the 3200m. Tyler Heap was a transfer from Ohio last year but came in partway through the school season so he was unable to compete in the fall. He had an amazing track season with a mark of 10:15 in the 3200m, expect him to be sub 16:00 this season.
Closing out the scoring five will be Kyle Beitler who had a big summer according to Coach Rafferty. We will see how he shapes out this fall.
Coach Rafferty stated, "We don't control externals. We're looking to have our top guys mix it up in the front of the race and, ideally, we'd like a 30-second 1-5 split. If we can do those two things we'll be competitive in most meets. If we're competitive in most meets we should have a shot at advancing through the state series."