Neuqua Valley boys cross country team has been one of the stronger programs in 2A over the past several years. The Wildcats finished third in 2011 and saw four of their top six runners including Mark Derrick who went to the University of North Carolina (9th at state) and Taylor Soltys (10th). Two returners that will need to step up for NV will be Alekh Meka and NIck Bushelle. Meka a senior finished 49th at state and has the fastest time coming in of 15:05. Coach Paul Vandersteen says that Alekh is doing workouts similar to those that Soltys and Derrick did last summer. He adds that the key for both Meka and Bushelle is how they handle thing at the beginning of the season. Backing them up are a group of seniors; Robbie Hohlman, Mike Whaley, Alex Stowers, Brendan O'Connor, and Sean Meehan. All of which Vandersteen says are hungry and ready to make a difference.
Also in the mix for the top seven will be freshman Connor Horn (4:42) and sophomores Daniel Weiss (4:35) and Matt Horsley (10:18). It will be interesting to see their role on this team because a freshman hasn't contributed to the Wildcat's top seven since Nick Dunn in 2000. If these guys do run with the top group Vandersteen says it probably won't be until early October.
If the first meet of the season is an early indicator of where this squad will be come state, they should be happy. The Wildcats won the Hinsdale South Hornet Invitational over some solid teams like New Trier and Palatine. Mekha was second in 15:16.20 while the remaining four finished in the top thirty. It was a quality win early in the season and great momentum for NV moving forward. 3A will be tough once again with York standing as the premier team in this class, but I think Neuqua Valley can make their way into the top five with a deep, experienced team.
Coach Paul Vandersteen Says...
|Neuqua Valley High School||970|
|1) Alekh Meka||15:05.00||34|
|2) Nick Bushelle||15:17.00||63|
|3) Robbie Hohlman||15:48.00||190|
|4) Mike Whaley||16:10.70||333|
|5) Alex Stowers||16:12.20||350|
|Average Time: 15:42.58 -- Total Time: 1:18:32.90 -- 1-5 Split: 1:07.20|
|6) Brendan Oconnor||16:18.00||392|
|7) Sean Meehan||16:58.75||760|
Boys 3200 Meter Run
|9:53.25||Meka, Alekh||Upstate 8 Valley Division - Boys||
|10:17.84||Horsley, Matthew||Upstate 8 Valley Division - Boys||
|10:20.24||Livingston, Matt||Saxon Invitational||
|10:26.95||Mehio, Omar||Saxon Invitational||
Boys 1600 Meter Run
|4:33.85||Meka, Alekh||Saxon Invitational||
|4:35.35||Bushelle, Nick||Saxon Invitational||
|4:35.62||Weiss, Daniel||Upstate 8 Valley Division - Boys||
|4:46.09||Baker, Mike||Saxon Invitational||