2016 DyeStat Illinois XC Season Previews - 3A Boys TeamsMonday, August 29 2016 - Aurora City Cross Country Invitational - Ricardo Del Toro
2016 DyeStat Illinois XC Season Previews - 3A Boys Teams
Published by DyeStatIL.com Aug 22nd, 11:59pm
By Michael Newman
DyeStat IL Editor
Sandburg demonstrated how powerful a team they were last year placing 3 runners in the top 16, 5 runners in the top 38 to run away with their 1st state championship. Illinois showed how strong the state was by qualifying 3 schools to the Nike Cross Nationals as well as having 4 Illinois schools in the top 5 at the Nike Cross Regionals in Terre Haute. Going further to the Nike Cross Nationals, there were 2 Illinois teams in the top ten with Sandburg 4th and Lyons Township 9th.
3A Boys will be just as strong this season and perhaps stronger. There are at least 7 Illinois 3A Boys teams that SHOULD be ranked nationally in the top 50. That is how crazy a battle it will be in 2016 in this classification. Neuqua Valley enters the year as the top ranked team in 3A. Lyons Township, Lake Zurich, York, Hinsdale Central, Whitney Young and Downers Grove North all have the talent to leave Detweiller Park in November with a trophy.
The West Suburban Conference – Silver Division remains the toughest conference not only the state but also the nation. 6 of the top 19 teams in 3A come from that conference.
3A Boys Top 25 Teams
1 – Naperville Neuqua Valley
Coach – Paul Vandersteen
2015 Finish – 3rd, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Scott Anderson SR (34, 14:56), Matt Milostan SR (40, 15:01), Jake McEneaney SR (47, 15:02), Jackson Jett SR (60, 15:10), Daniel Winek JR, Ryan Kennedy JR, Josh Molloway SR, Zach Kinne SO, Josh Patel SR, Jeremy Hayhurst SR, Chris Kelley SO, Tyler Bombacino JR, Quinton Quigliano JR, Alex Johnson JR.
Preview – Connor Horn and Scott Anderson were the top 2 runners in their first meet last year at Hinsdale Central. At that race, Anderson broke his leg and was feared to be out for the rest of the season. At the end of the month, Horn went down for the rest of the season with an injury. For most teams when you lose your top two runners, you panic and try to think what could be. That was not the case for Neuqua Valley. They had prepared for moments like that. Their summer running is focused on togetherness and pack running. This team never gave up. It was one of the reasons why the Wildcats finished third at last fall’s state meet, qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals finishing 19th. Their team is loaded with 4 runners back that have state meet racing experience. But there is more.
Coach Paul Vandersteen feels that could be one of his deepest teams that he has coached. He feels that the talent is there for his top 8 runners all to be under 15 minutes. Anderson is back after having a great comeback at the end of last season. He came back from the injury to become the #1 runner at state (34th). He had a good track season lowering his PR in the 3200 to 9:15. After Anderson, this will all be about the pack. At the Peoria Central Invitational, their split on 5 was only 10 seconds. At their conference meet, the split on 5 was only 12 seconds. Their 5 runner split at state was 13 seconds. Even though they did not run their best race of the year at Portland, their split was only 21 seconds. Like I said, this team lives and dies with pack running. Jake McEneaney and Jackson Jett missed most of the track season due to injury. Both are healthy after good summers of training. Two other seniors, Matt Milostan and Josh Molloway, will be among the top 5. Dan Winek raced at Portland and was the team’s 4th runner just behind McEneaney. The two sparkplugs on the team are Junior Ryan Kennedy and Sophomore Zach Winne. Both finished strong at the end of the track season and both should be part of their pack.
There were no notions about winning or other agendas for Vandersteen. “Summer training went well,” Vandersteen said. “We stayed fit, and more importantly, stayed healthy. We did not test our fitness at all this summer. We took a more conservative approach than last year.” The one goal was to stay healthy. Not to win state or win nationals. After what Neuqua Valley went through last year, a healthy bunch at Detweiller Park in November could be a dangerous bunch. The question will be how close the pack will be to Anderson. He has the capability to be in the top 10. There are 5 other runners that could be close to him in that pack. If that happens on November 5, the battle will be for second.
2 – Lake Zurich
Coach – JB Hanson
2015 Finish – 5th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Matt Pereira SR (5, 14:29), Brian Griffith SR (7, 14:30), Kyle Griffith SR (21, 14:44), Patrick Burns JR (73, 15:18), Eric Metzger JR (181, 16:15), Drake Heisterkamp JR, Jacob Bieniek JR, Kyle Gilboy JR, Jeff Glatz SR, Jake Baffa JR, Matthew Schwartz JR, Brian McNair SR, Kevin Auster JR.
Preview – Days after the state meet, I know coaches start looking through the results seeing who the top teams will be in the state. Lake Zurich is going to be tough was the one phrase that I heard over the next few weeks at meets that I was at. It went from high to low for this team during track. Matt Pereira suffered a stress fracture at Foot Locker Nationals last fall and was sidelined. He also coped with a respiratory problem that has hit him the last couple of seasons. Brian Griffith suffered from capsulitis, a rare toe injury that requires complete extended rest. Both qualified for the state track meet but on minimal training. The low point of track led to this summer. “As poor as our winter was last year, our summer was its opposite,” JB Hanson said. “Spirits are high as we move into the fall season.”
Lake Zurich finished 5th last fall returning 5 of their top 7 runners. It is a veteran squad that is looking ahead towards the top of the mountain. “Our varsity is definitely an upper-class dominated team. We have very strong junior and senior classes filled with strong leaders and hard workers. Our varsity likely won’t feature any freshmen or sophomores, something we haven’t been able to say in a long time,” continued Hanson. “The team is experienced, hungry, talented, and driven. Based on last fall’s success and the key returners we have, this team will garner a lot of attention heading into the season. With most teams, I would worry about how they handle the pressure, but not with this team. This team is very grounded and realistic while staying quite ambitious. Needless to say, it’s going to be a great year.”
The Bears have 3 all state runners coming back. Matt Pereira finished 5th, Brian Griffith 7th, and Kyle Griffith 21st. During most of the races last year, this trio was only separated by 5 or less seconds. If that is accomplished at state, look out. The question that was asked last season is if Lake Zurich would have a 5th runner to help in scoring? That may have been solved in a roundabout way. Patrick Burns was the team’s 4th runner last year finishing 73rd at state. The junior has improved dramatically over the past year dropping his 3200 time down to 9:40. According to Hanson, “Burns will join that group as a frontrunner this season. Patrick has become THE training leader in our varsity, and has been pushing Brian, Matt, and Kyle as much as they have pushed him in the past. Patrick is as fit and as tough as they come, and this will likely be a breakout season for him.” Kyle Fitzgerald, Eric Metzger, and Drake Heisterkamp look to be the primary people to jump in as the 5th man.
This might not be a matter of how small Lake Zurich’s split is. When you have 4 runners hovering around towards the front, there could be a healthy distance between the 4th and 5th and the Bears still may be capable to win. The key is finding a runner that can run 15:30 or better at Detweiller. It is also important that their top 4 is in the top 20 and no team puts 7 in before their 5th. Their first huge meet is Richard Spring Invitational at Detweiller on September 17. We will be able to tell how good this team really is then.
3 – LaGrange Lyons Township
Coach – Michael Danner
2015 Finish – 2nd, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Vince Zona SR (6, 14:30), Danny Kilrea JR (10, 14:36), Alex Pall SR (72, 15:18), Roland Van Tassel SR (171, 16:07), Dan Palmer SR, Graham Kutchek SR, Colin Costello SO, Andrew Tarasuk JR, Patrick Kane JR, Michael Smith JR, Alex Lynch SR, Tyler Morales SR, John Hagan SR.
Preview – Within the state of Illinois, Lyons Township is respected by most every coach in the cross country community. In the last 4 state meets, Coach Michael Danner’s teams have finished 2nd twice, 3rd twice, and 4th in 2013. Last year was one of their 2nd place finishes. Outside of the state during a good season, they were not recognized in the rankings. You could call them the Rodney Dangerfield of Illinois Cross Country teams. But when the time mattered, the Lions finished 9th in Portland. They did not think about what the “experts” thought. They let that chip on their shoulder drive them to some bigger and better things.
It is evident that the same thing this season has been put in motion nationally. Which could drive this team to a higher goal. “We have big goals for this season, mainly to improve from last season,” Danner said. “They are motivated and we will continue to develop as a team.” 4 runner s are back that have state meet experience. There are 5 runners back that were in the top 7 during post season. Vince Zona and Danny Kilrea were all state last year finishing 6th and 10th. Zona did not have his best track season but finished the year running 4:14 for 1600. After that race he said he was already looking forward to Cross Country. Kilrea will be right on Zona’s shoulder. Dan Palmer will be the big surprise for this team. He did not run state, but was put back in the line-up during the post season where he was the team’s 5th runner. He came on strong track season lowering his PR down to 4:23 for 1600. Alex Pall was 5th man for Lyons most of last season and will contribute. Roland Van Tassel was in and out of their top 5 most of last season but also had a good summer of training. Graham Kutchek has showed improvement and will be fighting for a top 5 spot. Their secret could be sophomore Colin Costello. He did not run at Detweiller last fall but won the WSC-Silver Freshman title. He ran 9:50 last spring and is on the same improvement curve Kilrea was at this point last year. We know how that turned out for Kilrea.
This team is one to watch in November and beyond. Zona and Kilrea could be challenging for a top 5 spot at state. Palmer could be close to the top 25. Costello and any of the other Lyons runner could be close to Palmer. They have been so close to state titles the last couple of years. This could be the year to accomplish that. We will see what happens after November 5. I am sure they will be making some noise on the left coast.
4 – Elmhurst York
Co-Coach – Joe Newton & Charlie Kern
2015 Finish – 4th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Charlie Kern Jr. JR (2, 14:22), Sean MacGregor JR (86, 15:24), Jackson Bode JR (96, 15:28), Liam Hill SR, Harrison Kennedy SR, Creighton Wolff SR, Jack Gornick SR, Tim Stevenson JR, Mark Morgan JR, Danny Hohnquest JR, Joe Evely JR, Dom Castanolli SR, Gavin Wahlgren SR, Brendan Hill SO, Eddie Ryan SO, Eddie Pedote SR, Ethan Kern FR., Daniel Klysh FR.
Preview – The news announcement was handled a week before the first practice at York not to interfere with the preparation for the upcoming season. Legendary Hall of Fame Coach Joe Newton will retire at the end of this season. Charlie Kern will step in as the co-coach handling day to day coaching responsibilities. As Kern said, in the press conference he is always a phone call away for himself or for the team. The Dukes just missed out on a trophy last year having the same point total with Neuqua Valley who was placed in third because of a better sixth runner. It is a new time for opportunity for this team. It is a new time for Kern who expected this opportunity 16 years ago when Newton was expected to retire then. “It is difficult to grasp what has happened in the past few weeks. I don't have much time to reflect,” Kern said. “I am now responsible for preparing the Dukes for the 2016 season. Mr. Newton has given me the same advice now as he did back in 2001, when I started coaching the distance runners. Mr. Newton has advised me to be true to myself. I am not Mr. Newton, nor do I want to be. I do want to teach the same types of lessons, help young men continue on the path to adulthood and provide the training necessary to achieve their athletic potential.”
York will be young this season but talented. 3 of the top 7 are back from last year’s state team. Charlie Kern Jr. came on strong at the end of last season finishing 2nd at the state meet and then qualifying for the Nike Cross Nationals as an individual. He will be one of the individual favorites in 3A this fall. Fellow juniors Sean MacGregor and Jackson Bode had good track seasons and look to move up in races closer to Kern. There are at least 7 runners that could jump into the top 5 led by seniors Liam Hill and Creighton Wolfe. Fellow senior Harrison Kennedy is healthy and had a great summer. He too may be in the mix. Freshman Ethan Kern could also be a factor. He ran 4:56 at the Festival of Miles only 4 seconds behind what his brother Charlie ran two years prior. He could be a factor by the time the state series rolls around. “The goals for York are consistent,” Coach Kern added. “We will do our best to focus on our own improvement and do the best we can to put ourselves in position to earn of the three team trophies on November 5th. The state is, once again, incredibly deep with 4 teams ranked in the top 30 nationally. It will be an awesome accomplishment if we can move into that group, but for now we excited to get to work. “Kern Jr. will be getting low points for his team. It will come down to a typical York pack to get a trophy. The talent is there to get 5 runners among the first 50.
It was funny to hear on social media how some people think that when Mr. Newton finally retires, the Long Green Line will be over. The thing is that Newton built up an unbelievable foundation solidifying that the Long Green Line will be around long after he retires. “While I have a presence on social media, I do not have time to really track what others are saying. My primary goal is to help these young men learn to develop intrinsic motivation to chase after their dreams. Sometimes this is fueled by what others may say, but at the end of the day, the athlete has to want it because of a need deep inside to be the best he can be,” Kern stated. “If we can form a critical mass of athletes who want to be successful in a visceral way, then everything else will take care of itself.”
5 – Hinsdale Central
Coach – Jim Westphal
2015 Finish – 9th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Blake Evertsen SR (4, 14:26), Ryan Doorhy SR (80, 15:22), Ethan Planson SR (101, 15:29), Sam Fathizadeh SR (109, 15:31), Sean O’Connell JR, Jacob Belgrad SR, John Bynan SR, Thomas Monson SO, Ben Schneiders SR, Steven Zaher JR, Jan-Erik Naess SR, Colin Yandel JR, Neil Cumberland JR.
Preview – It was not the finish that Coach Jim Westphal had expected for his team especially after 2 straight state championships. The Red Devils finished 9th in last year’s state meet but do have the talent to find their way back into the trophy talk. 4 runners from the top 5 of that state meet team is back. “Summer training went well, fairly consistent and uninterrupted. I am pleased with our program’s summer progress and commitment level,” Westphal said. “During the dead period without the structure/coaches in place will provide an opportunity for our leaders to step up and ensure that the program’s training continued. This will also be an opportunity for the kids to establish and reinforce a culture of commitment.”
Westphal has a good nucleus to build his top 7 around starting with Blake Evertsen. The senior finished 4th a year ago at Detweiller Park. The 9:04 that he ran last track season is nothing to sneeze at either. He had a great summer of training with his eyes on an individual state championship for starters. Ryan Doorhy, Ethan Planson, and Sam Fathizadeh are the other seniors back from the top 5. The three were within 9 seconds of each other. This team is deep with plenty of talent to step into the top 7. Sean O’Connell, Steven Zaher, Jacob Belgrad, and John Bynam are some of the runners that will challenge for 1 of the 5 scoring spots.
Hinsdale Central made one schedule change running at the Peoria Central Invitational at the beginning of October. It is a competitive meet that they feel will get them ready for state. “We’ve set a goal for a top 3 finish in the WSC and a top 6 finish at state,” Westphal added. “We are well aware of how competitive it will be this fall with the likes of Lyons Township, Neuqua Valley, York, Lake Zurich, and Whitney Young to name a few.” The Red Devils will get the single digit points from Evertsen. The pack behind him could be lethal with 4 to 5 runners capable of running within 15 seconds of each other. The name of the game is being on the line at Detweiller in November. Westphal will have his team ready that is for sure.
6 – Chicago Whitney Young
Coach – Billy Poole-Harris
2015 Finish – 8th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Clayton Mendez JR (12, 14:37), Keduse Worku SR (54, 15:08), Anthony Tuman SR (141, 15:48), Evan Radomski (169, 16:04), Sam Rivera SO, Luke Lasley SO, Luke Nelson JR, Luke Somerville JR, Jimmy White JR, Marc Harvey SR, Brandon Dokliev SR, Augustine Barry SR.
Preview – It is in rare occurrences that you see a team from the Chicago Public League find their way into the top 10 during the season. That did not happen last fall for Whitney Young like some have and it will not happen especially with the program that Billy Poole-Harris has built. Whitney Young finished 8th at state last year. They have 4 of the top 7 runners back from that team. “We had a wonderful summer of training,” Poole-Harris said. “I’m really happy with the progress we have seen over the last two summers. We had a steady stream of about 15-20 runners logging miles whether in the morning or evening. Our weight program has taken off; with gains we will see later in the season.”
Clayton Mendez showed he is ready for this season after winning Det at Dark at the end of July in less than ideal conditions. His 12th place finish of last year is testimony that he could be one of the top runners in the state this fall. Sam Rivera did not run in the state series last fall. He was their #3 runner at the CPL championships. He should give the Dolphins a strong #2 runner along with Keduse Worku. A key will be getting Anthony Tuman and Evan Radomski closer to Worku. Last year at the state meet, that gap was 40 seconds.
Whitney Young will have the power up front with Mendez but will need to have a 55 second or faster split on 5 in November in order to be in the mix for a trophy. “We have big goals this year. We are trying to get on the podium this year, and have three All-staters,” Poole-Harris said. “We had a special 2015 campaign last year. With finishing 8th in state, and returning 9 out of our top 12 in cross. The boys took the responsibility to communicate with one another and keep one another accountable this summer. Our boys know what we have, which ignited them to take training and understanding our sport to another level.”
7 – Downers Grove North
Coach – John Sipple
2015 Finish – 17th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Alec Danner SR (19, 14:43), Jacob Ridderhoff JR (82, 15:23), Ryan Birkmeier JR (122, 15:38), Nick Chudzik JR (125, 15:38), Andrew Marek SR (153, 15:54), Sam McCool JR (186, 16:17), Matt Moravec SO (197, 16:26), Brendan Lockerby JR, Zach Goliszewski SR, Don Knapp SR, Miles Christensen JR, Tyler Mertes JR, Collin Leger JR, Tristan Jahn SR.
Preview – The 2015 season was a stepping stone building up for what could happen for the next few months for the Trojans. It started with a 5th place finish in the tough WSC-Silver Meet, followed up by a 5th place finish just getting out of the Hinsdale Central, and then a 17th place finish at state. All 7 athletes that ran in that meet. The experiences that they had last year will serve to make them better in 2016. “The summer training for the most part went fairly well, however, our team was never all in the same place training this summer because of a variety of issues (school trips, family vacations, summer science camps, etc.….) so we were a little disjointed this summer in terms of a cohesive unit training as one,” John Sipple said. “With that being said the summer training did go fairly well and I think we are making progress and improving from this past spring.”
7 runners that are a year older and that much stronger. Alec Danner leads the team finishing 19th individually at state last year. He will be in the running for a top 10 finish this fall. There will be a strong pack behind Danner led by Jacob Ridderhoff, Ryan Birkmeier, Nick Chudzik, and Andrew Marek who were the top 5 runners last season. This team is also deep and could as many as 5 more runners challenging for the top 5. That’s a good problem to have.
“The guys have some pretty high expectations for this season and look to finish among the best in the state this year,” Sipple said. “That is a lot easier said than done with the likes of NV, LT, HC, York, and Lake Zurich just to name a few. But, I think that we have enough guys that can potentially get to that level, but we need to get it done on a daily basis in and out of practice. Their aspirations and goals for themselves are inspirational to our coaching staff and we are excited for the challenge to try and help guide them reach their goals and find their maximum potential.” North does have the talent to challenge for a trophy especially with Danner up front and a strong pack behind. They could have as small as a 20 second split on their 2 to 5 runners. That pack has to be within 30 seconds of Danner for this team to be in the top 5.
8 – Winnetka New Trier
Coach – David Wisner
2015 Finish – 10th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Warren Blood SR (48, 15:05), Patrick Norrick JR (102, 15:29), Matt Burke SR, Kiram Baakkonen JR, Cooper Woolford SR, Matt Rage SR, Ryan Struckman JR, Mason Brachmann SR, Ben Parkhill JR, Miles Purcell JR, Luke Wisner SO, Ben Weiler SO, Cameron Chang SO, Sean Gorney SR.
Preview – Even though the Trevians only have 2 runners back from their 10th place state finish, this team will be sneaky good by the time we get to the state series. “With only two athletes returning with state meet experience, it’s too early to determine where this team will ultimately finish at the state meet in November,” David Wisner said. “There are many talented runners in our program, but it will take time for them to adjust to varsity competition, pacing, and to master the art of pack running. Unlike prior seasons where we have maybe 8 to 10 guys competing for 7 varsity spots, this season there are at least 20 athletes with a legitimate shot of making our top 7 by the postseason.”
Warren Blood will be the top runner on this team. He finished 48th at the 2nd runner on the team at state. Patrick Norrick is the only other runner that returns with state experience. After that, it is anyone’s guess. What we could see is a 6 runner pack within 30 seconds of each other. That is what New Trier does. That is what makes this team so successful. “As always, our goals are to win the CSL Conference meet, qualify for state, and be better than last year’s team,” Wisner said. “Having this many runners with a chance to compete in Peoria will only make our team stronger and more competitive as they push each other in workouts and in races.”
9 – Minooka
Coach – Kevin Gummerson
2015 Finish – 16th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Soren Knudsen SR (11, 14:36), Justin Tutt SR (112, 15:32), Jack Sullivan SR (139, 15:47), Cody Hoshell JR (145, 15:50), Jordan Freese SO (179, 16:14), Spencer McCabe SR, Matthew Mason SR, Jeremy Messer SR, Vince Bazzarone SR, Mark Dames SO, Connor Gedwill JR.
Preview – Up until the state series, the chances that Minooka would make it back to the state meet especially with their #1 runner Soren Knudsen. He came back just in time for their conference meet and the Indians rolled from there. They won the Normal Sectional and then came back to finish 16th at the state meet. 5 of the top 6 runners are back from that meet. Expectations are a little bit higher for this team. “The summer training has gone very well,” Kevin Gummerson said. “These kids have worked hard, put the miles in, and are excited for the competitive phase of the season.”
Everything starts with Soren Knudsen. Even though he was injured most of the season, he still finished 11th at state. His track season was great finishing 2nd in the 1600 and then running 4:10 for the 1 Mile Run in June. He is a runner that we should see at the front at Detweiller Park this fall. The runners behind him should make Minooka that much tougher. The team had a 74 second split on their top 5 at state. That will need to come down. Seniors Justin Tutt and Jack Sullivan will lead that pack along with junior Cody Hoshell. Minooka has a good sophomore group led by Jordan Freese that will have their influence on the top 5. Tutt will need to be within 40 seconds of Knudsen this season. Then the pack needs to be within 20 seconds of each other to get at least in the top ten and then who knows what. “The SPC Championship is always a goal of these athletes. This has turned into a very good cross-country conference. There is no doubt, that this will be an intense battle between some tough teams,” Gummerson said about the team’s goals. “We need to return to the state meet in November and improve upon last year’s finish.”
10 – Mt. Prospect – Prospect
Coach – Mike Stokes
2015 Finish – 7th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Sean Sanaghan SR (65, 15:13), Jack O’Donnell SR (95, 15:27), Jack Terry JR (130, 15:41), James Riordan SR, Nick Serio SR, Jack Hempeman JR, Nate Cozine JR, Casey Daleiden JR, Nathan Fowler SO, Jeff Snell SR, Andrew Reimann SO, Kevin Sherwood SR.
Preview – The Knights had a good last 12 months for qualifying for state and finish 7th at Peoria and then earning All-American honors in the 4x8 at the New Balance Nationals last June. Expectations will be up there to repeat their 7th place finish at state. It will be a challenge especially with only 3 of the top 7 coming back. Sean Sanaghan was the 4th runner at state last year finishing 63rd. He should be the top guy on this team with Jack O’Donnell and Jack Terry close behind. Anthony Reimann and James Riordan should also be a part of the top 7. Don’t be surprised if this team is running 30 to 35 second splits on their top 5. That would be good enough to get them back into the top 10.
11 – Wilmette Loyola Academy
Coach – Dan Seeberg
2015 Finish – 8th, 3A Lake Park Sectional
Top Runners – Paolo Tiongson SR, Andrew Niewiarowski SR, Connor Hoag JR, Matthew Kadus SR, William Shortal SR, Aidan Sullivan JR, Case Brennan SR, Jack Lynch SO, Devinde Hueck SR, Robert Kelly SR.
Preview – The Ramblers did not have their best race of the season at last October’s Lake Park Sectional. Loyola Academy missed a trip to state placing 8th. Last year’s race could put a chip on their shoulder especially when they have 4 of their top 5 runners back from that race. Paolo Tiongson was one of the runners that did not race well on the wet course at Lake Park’s East Campus. He finished 1 second behind Andrew Niewiarowski when he was usually 20 to 30 seconds ahead. Tiongson did run 14:52 last September in Peoria. Watch for him to be in the top 25 this season. Niewiarowski will lead a pack that will have a split of at least 35 seconds. The thing to watch is the gap between Tiongson and the pack. 30 seconds or under with an overall split of 53 seconds on 5 could get this team back to Peoria.
12 – Yorkville
Coach – Chris Muth
2015 Finish – 3rd, 2A State Meet
Top Runners – Zach Price JR (28, 15:11), Alexx Nauman SR (58, 15:41), Patrick Black JR (95, 15:59), Brent Staufenberg SR, Alex Loos SO, Matt Cox JR, Ben Summers JR, Ben Tholen SO, Eric Nauman JR, Rio Lara JR, Zach Rice SO.
Preview – While most of the focus was on Yorkville’s Girls Team and their transition to 3A, the Boys team will also be making that move. Their transition will be interesting to follow this year. The Foxes earned a trophy last year placing 3rd in the 2A Meet. “Summer training went well, we upped our mileage a little compared to years past, but not dramatically,” Chris Muth said. “We are transitioning into a 3A program mileage wise and don't want to make a crazy jump the first year, but keep it a healthy progression.”
3 runners are back that have state meet experience. Their #1 runner from last year’s state meet (Zach Price) missed the entire track season due to an injury. He could be back sometime in September according to Muth. Alexx Nauman had a great summer and stepped up to the top spot. Patrick Black also ran at state last year and will be in the mix for the top 5. Brett Staufenberg, Alex Loos, and Matt Cox should also be in the hunt for a top 5 position. The Boys team usually finds success running with a tight pack. It should be like that for the 2016 team. With the talent they could have right now, that split on 5 could be close to 45 seconds. The key will be moving their pack towards the front during the season. “We want to win NIB12 conference meet and advance to the state meet,” added Muth. “This top group of runners, that I have this year, consist of one senior, so being the first team to make 3A state is an important goal and something we aren't taking for granted in this division. We will have to accept new challenges and continue to fight to push beyond being average.”
13 – Orland Park Sandburg
Coach – John O’Malley
2015 Finish – 1st, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Martin Skucas SR (69, 15:14), Dylan Jacobs JR, Alex Szymanski SR, Nick Gonsh JR, Tom Marchese SR, Robbie Sieczkowski JR, Nicholas Calderon SO, Xander Furmaek JR, Patrick Morris JR, Brendan Duffy JR, Josh Nolan SR, Sam Rodriguez FR, Ben Giblin FR, Will Giblin FR.
Preview – It is not the same as last year for Sandburg. It can’t be when you graduate such talented runners like Sean & Chris Torpy, Max Lehnhardt, Brandon Lukas, Tom Brennan, and Dan Laskero. Sandburg had one of those lifetime teams that culminated with a state championship as well as finishing 4th at the Nike Cross Nationals. “Summer training has gone well. I think for a while the boys were not truly aware of the steps they were going to have to take to make up ground on the talent around the state. We have only two runners in the returning top 100 of each of the returning classes (that makes two out of 300 runners) and only two who have broken 16:00,” John O’Malley said. “On top of it, we've taken 16th and 12th place the last two years on the sophomore level at Peoria Notre Dame, which is always a good measuring stick for how you stack up against the state's F/S teams. So...yeah, an uphill climb. I’m not trying to dodge expectations--I LOVE expectations and pressure. This is just the reality of our returning talent. It took a while for the urgency of the work needed to set in for everyone.”
It helped that Sandburg was so deep in talent last year. The loss of Dylan Jacobs due to an injury just before state could be a blessing this year for the junior. Jacobs will be a little hungry to go up front. He should be 1 of the top 7 runners in the state this fall. Martin Skucas was the team’s 6th man at state running 15:14. He also has the potential to be in the top 25. It will be tough for the Eagles after that. Alex Symanski could be expected to challenge for the top 5 along with Tom Marchese and juniors Robbie Sieczkowski and Nick Gonsh. It will be the first month of the season where there could be lessons learned in the meets that they are in. O’Malley realizes that. “The second half of the summer went much better and I am starting to see some of the character needed to be a tough varsity athlete,” he said. “We have more work to do. It comes down to toughness. When gaps open up or excuses are made, that worries me. Those are the biggest indicators---more so than miles run or workouts completed--that I look for. We've improved but need more improvement in this area.”
Jacobs and Skucas will be the front runners for this team. It will be getting the rest of team out of a comfort zone learning to run a little faster than they have before. They do have a good coach to teach them. We will see how much this team is improved by the middle of October. “There is no doubt we have to take a different approach than last year. We have to learn fast, be prepared for moments guys have not experienced (one runner--Skucas--ran in a state cross country meet before),” O’Malley added. “That takes mental preparation and physical readiness. Do they realize that they'll be ranked well below where expectations were last year? No doubt about it. They are embracing that and using it for motivation. I've said it a million times: credentials and experience don't win races. Desire and character wins races.”
14 – O’Fallon
Coach – Jon Burnett
2015 Finish – 21st, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Joey Black SR (84, 15:24), Christopher Conrad SR (108, 15:30), Kyle Dismukes SO (116, 15:36), Will Van Alstine SO (126, 15:39), Zion Ward SR (191, 16:21), Aaron Reuter SR, Garrett Blenkush JR, Lucas Capistrant JR, Matthew Gilster JR, Johnathan Whitaker SR, Ashton Hess SO, Hayden Ybarra JR.
Preview – Jon Burnett said good bye to me at the St. Clair County Meet with the words “I know we will be talking more this fall.” You can say that when you finish 21st in the 3A state meet running with 2 freshmen in your top 5. The expectations have raised another level this fall for this squad especially when you have your top 4 runners coming back along with 5 of the top 7 from that state team.
“Summer training has been rough due to the weather,” Burnett said. “It was difficult to get consistent training due to the heat and humidity. This was the hottest and roughest June I can remember.” O’Fallon’s top 4 could all be in the top 50 this season in November. Senior Joey Black will be the leader of this team backed up by Chris Conrad. He gained confidence from the success he had on the track last spring. That will be a bonus heading into this season. Will VanAlstine had some of the fastest freshman track times at the school. He is ready for the next step up. Kyle Dismukes’ last race was at state last fall when he had a stress fracture. He came up with another one this spring. He is 100% ready to go for this year. Zion Ward and Garrett Blenkush should be two of the runners challenging for the 5th spot. “We set the same goals every season,” Burnett said. “We want to win conference. We want to go as far into the state series as possible. We want to finish the season with our best performances of the year.”
15 – St. Charles East
Coach – Chris Bosworth
2015 Finish – 11th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Anthony Zilla SR (93, 15:26), Jake Beno SR (142, 15:49), Don Werner SR (170, 16:05), Carter Frey SR, JB Sandlund SR, Rohan Patel JR, Cole Adesso JR, German Munoz SR, Campbell Koch JR, Bennett Melone SO, Tom Liking SO, Tommy Olenek SR, Kyle Izzo JR, Dillion Mastropalo SR, Charles Murphy SO (transfer from Mandeville LA).
Preview – With only 3 of the top 7 from last year’s 11th state place. St. Charles East will not change anything different this season. They will continue to run as a pack. Their split of 29 seconds at state was an example of that. Just like last year, there are no “superstars” on this team. Coach Chris Bosworth does have runners committed to running together. “Summer training has been great,” Bosworth said. “We logged a few more miles than last summer which is great...all the main guys are fit and healthy. Our team’s progress has been really strong. We are focusing on training together as a new unit. Most of my varsity guys this year will be making the jump from fr/so to varsity.”
3 seniors should be the team’s leaders this year. All have state meet experience. Anthony Zilla was the team’s #4 man at state in 2015. Jake Beno was the 6th man and has showed great improvement over the last year dropping his PR 45 seconds. Don Werner is also supposed to be a part of their top 5. Charles Murphy transferred in from Mandeville Louisiana and should fit in quite nicely to the team’s pack running. Other seniors Carter Fry and JB Sandlund should also step up from the JV to help. This squad. The pack could be even tighter this year between 20 to 25 seconds. That will help grow inexperience runners to be more comfortable on the varsity level. “With the many new faces that will fill our varsity squad this year, our goals on all 3 levels will be to gel together. We lost 23 seniors last year so we will be gathering experience as the season continues. Like every year, we want to be at our best when it counts. We return 7 guys that have run 16:00 or better last year,” added Bosworth. “With 8-12 around 16:30, so we are kind of deep. Last year we only had 1 guy under 10:00 in the 3200 during the track season with the next at 10:18. We now had 2 guys under 10 with 5 others under 10:18. This is by far the best track season in the 3200 that my guys have had...hopefully this will translate into XC. Yes we will rely on the pack. Our team believes in this method. We train this way all season. We might not start off fast, but all that matters is where we finish in November.”
16 – Geneva
Coach – Robert Thomson
2015 Finish – 7th, 3A West Aurora Sectional
Top Runners – Tyler Dau SR, Brian Kuehl SR, Josh Rodgers SO, Ryan Kredell SO, Jordan Evans SR, Cole Montgomery JR, Justin Bach JR, David Creger SR, Alex Cordegan JR, Aidan Carr-Clennon JR, Scott Creger SR, Vlads Slokenbergs FR, Matthew Hall FR, Matthew Dutton FR, Eric Palmquist FR.
Preview – The Vikings missed by 20 points of making it down to Peoria for the state meet finishing 7th at the West Aurora Sectional. “Summer training went well for those that were there,” said Bob Thomson. “It's tough to get consistent training when kids are away with other commitments but its summer and what better time to plan these events. We always hope that they include running in their plans. Generally, everyone improved but nothing significant.”
There were 4 runners that were supposed to be back from that top 7 but #2 returnee junior Boon Andrews moved with his family back to California. The loss of Andrews could effect this squad early on. Tyler Dau was consistent as the #1 runner for the team last year. His sectional race was not his best but he will be among the top runners again in the Upstate Eight Conference. Josh Rodgers should be alongside Dau. The sophomore had a great freshman season running 9:36 on the track for 3200 last spring. Big things are in store for him. Brian Kuehl ran a 1:56.3 PR in the 800 last spring and should be close behind along with Ryan Krendel and Jordan Evans. There should be more of a presence up front for Geneva this year but they will need to maintain a 50 second or better 5 runner split to make the trip down to Peoria. “Our team goal is to get back to state,” Thomson added. “We haven't been to state as a Boys team since 2010. The boys were really disappointed last season when things didn't go their way with the terrible weather. It's not an excuse but we didn't rise to the challenge.
17 – Oswego
Coach – Dan Whipple
2015 Finish – 9th, 3A West Aurora Sectional
Top Runners – Bennett Peterson SR (62, 15:12), Collin Boone SR, Mitch Bradford JR, David Gaytan SR, Brandon Nelson JR, Joe Fioresi JR, Corey Saelans JR, Brendan Pope JR, Isaiah Coach SR, Kyle Kelty SO, Brady Mello SO, Ryan Holt SR, Nathan Miller SO, Erik Kivela SR, Devin Leasure FR.
Preview – The Panthers are building towards something big. It could happen this season. Even though they finished 9th last fall in the West Aurora Sectional, 5 of the top 7 runners are back from that sectional team. “Training has been solid with a continued growth in individual ownership and accountability to the program,” Dan Whipple said. “They have continued to grow as a unit and built off of previous year's knowledge of passing on proper routines, teaching the ways we do things, and building the legacy stronger.”
Bennett Peterson qualified individually for state placing 62nd. He could be in the mix for the top 25 at state after lowering his time in the 3200 to 9:32. The key will be keeping their pack at least 15 seconds behind Peterson. At some points last year it was as close as 12 seconds. In their sectional race, it was 24 seconds. Collin Boone should be the team’s #2 runner with Mitch Bradford, David Gaytan, Erik Kivela, and Brandon Nelson following. Oswego is about 11 deep that could run varsity. Success will happen for this team if their 2 to 5 runner split stays near 30 seconds. “We have only one objective and one focus and that is to break through the qualifying barrier and get a team to the state meet,” Whipple said. “All else is secondary. What happens on that road is a week to week process to see that objective through to the end.”
18 – Glen Ellyn Glenbard West
Coach – Kyle Nugent
2015 Finish – 7th, 3A Lake Park Sectional
Top Runners – Cameron Benes JR, Rory Cavan SO, Ian Repking SO, Luke Malek JR, Stephen Moody SO, JP McHargue JR, Will O’Brien SO, Seth Townsend SO, Peter Blatchford SO, Tre Romano SR, Kyle Rogus JR, Bennett Fate SO.
Preview – The Hilltoppers were 6th last year at the WC-Silver Meet and thoughts were not that great heading into the state series. Glenbard West did come back to finish 7th at the Lake Park Sectional. It’s just a testament how strong their conference is. Even though they have only 2 runners back from that sectional team, it could be the strength of last year’s frosh/soph team that propels this squad higher up the rankings. “We lost a great senior class but the new captains set the tone early in the summer,” Kyle Nugent said. “We had good attendance and consistent training for the majority of our team. Despite a few minor setbacks, we've managed to stay pretty healthy while meeting our summer training goals. We had a lot of guys trying to hang with our top training group, which is a good sign. We are happy with where we stand heading into the season.”
Cameron Benes was the team’s #2 runner at the end of the year. He started the season on the lower level. Benes did experience some minor injuries that slowed him down this summer. He should be at full strength by the middle of September. Sophomores Ian Repking, Stephen Moody, and Rory Cavan could start at the lower level at the beginning of the season, but will be running varsity by October. Luke Malek and JP McHargue will also be contributing to the top 5. “Being in the conference that we are in, we just want to compete with the other teams within our conference throughout the season,” said Nugent. “Our other goal is to qualify for the state meet. A good chunk of our varsity team will consist of sophomores and juniors, with a few seniors fighting for spots. If we can stay focused and healthy we could have a good season.” This team could grow into a state team by the time they get to the end of October. There could be some bumps along the way especially with the toughness of the conference. The potential of the team having a 40 second split on 5 could advance this team to the starting line at Detweiller Park.
19 – Oak Park-River Forest
Coach – Chris Baldwin
2015 Finish – 6th, 3A Lake Park Sectional
Top Runners – Irwin Loud SR, Matthew Politis SR, Eric Mulshine SR, Matthew Vietzen JR, Robert George JR, Chance Bayles SR, Peter Halbren JR, Charles Cole SR, Lucas Carillo JR, Garrett Minich SO, Spencer Thorpe SO, Will Vejeck FR, Luke Clancy FR, Jacko Culliane FR.
Preview – The Huskies were ranked high most of the season heading into the sectional meet. Their worst nightmare came true when their #1 runner Irwin Loud collapsed 300 meters from the finish. The team just missed qualifying finishing 6th. Loud is stronger than ever with his eyes ahead looking to capture an individual state championship. There are 2 other athletes that ran in that race who are back. The depth that Coach Chris Baldwin has waiting for an opportunity could give their team the strength to get into the sectional top 5. “Our Junior class set the example this summer with work they put in,” Baldwin said. “I am excited to see them race this fall, and can't wait to see their hard work pay off. Matthew Vietzen had a great track season, which he followed up with a solid summer of running. Last year he was knocking on the door of top 7, and this year I could see him being our #2 man.”
Seniors Matt Politis and Eric Mulshine were the team’s #5/#6 runners last fall and should step into the top 5 challenging Vietzen. Chance Bayless and Robert George will also be in the mix for the top 5 as well. Ignore their 1 to 5 runner split especially with Loud possibly running 14:20 or faster at Detweiller. A 40 second split on their 2 to 5 runners could be expected this fall. The key will be the gap between them and Loud. “We did change our schedule,” Baldwin said. “We added the Palatine Invite and Loctoberfest. We race some of the best teams in the state throughout our conference, and we had an opportunity to get into some high caliber meets. We had a very successful season last year, but it didn't end how we wanted it to. Hopefully having some high stress invites can better prepared for the end of the season.”
20 – Aurora Marmion Academy
Coach – Dan Klatt
2015 Finish – 14th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Michael Ronzone JR (50, 15:06), Charlie Zimmer SR (83, 15:23), Jimmy Milder SR (176, 16:11), Sean Galle JR (195, 16:24), Andrew Lifka SR (204, 16:54), Liam Kelly JR, David Farrell SR, Jack Brewster SO, Jake Harron SO, Evan Turcioh JR, Ryan Conti JR.
Preview – Marmion Academy made some successful transitions the past season starting with winning the Chicago Catholic League Championships in their first season. It was a toss-up if the Cadets would advance to the state meet but they ran a strong race at West Aurora placing 4th. They will be tough with 5 of their top 7 back from the 14th place state finish. “Our goal is to maximize the potential of each individual runner and, consequently, the team,” Dan Klatt said. “Our focus, as with many other programs, is to get the most out of each day. Specifically, our mission is to glorify God by doing the best we can each day in an effort to become the best version of ourselves. This is the foundation of our program, and the success of our team can always be traced back to the grace gifted to us by God. They run to honor Him.”
Marmion can be a dangerous team when they keep their 1 to 5 runner split under 40 seconds. They proved that at their conference meet when it was at 38 seconds and they won. Even though they had a 49 second split at West Aurora, their top 3 split was only 7 seconds. Michael Ronzone will lead the pack and has the talent to finish in the top 5. Charlie Zimmer finished just ahead of Ronzone at sectionals but 17 seconds behind at state. Zimmer within 8 seconds of Ronzone during this season can be a huge thing. Andrew Lifka was in the top 5 last year but is coming back from a sacral fracture. His training has been limited but has been an outstanding influence on the team according to Klatt. Jimmy Milder and Sean Galle should also be close to Zimmer and Ronzone. “Each year we set out to win our conference championship and earn a top ten position at the state meet. This is an extremely difficult challenge this year as we lost an unbelievably special group of seniors who made up one third of our team,” added Klatt. “The reality for us is that there is much work to be done. Understanding the numbers and talent we compete against each week, we took some risks this summer. However, ultimately the fate of our team rests with our ability to compete with extreme focus and purpose. When we accomplish our goals this year, it will be a direct result of god’s grace, an insatiable desire to compete, and a genuine want to graciously suffer for the betterment of the team.”
21 – Oak Park Fenwick
Coach – David Rill
2015 Finish – 5th, 2A State Meet
Top Runners – Jack Darrow SR (37, 15:23), Alex Marks SR (38, 15:24), Emmett McEnery JR (57, 15:39), Patrick Barnett SR (136, 16:19), Joe Wermes SO (144, 16:21), Colin Marks SO, Brendan Copp SR, Jack Gihl SR, Thomas McHugh JR, James Brosnan SR, Owen Filben SO, Matt Walsh SO.
Preview – The Friars make the move back to 3A after having a great 2015 season finishing 5th in the 2A state meet. 5 of their top 6 runners are back from that state team. The main focus of Fenwick last year was their top 3 runners packing towards the front during the season. The gap between Jack Darrow, Alex Marks, and Emmett McEnery at the state meet was only 16 seconds. It was closer during the season. It may need to be closer this season. Patrick Barnett and Joe Wermes were within 40 seconds of the pack most of last year. That split needs to be cut in half for this team to have a chance to qualify out of a tough Niles West Sectional.
22 – Lincolnshire Stevenson
Coach – Scott Summers
2015 Finish – 6th, 3A Schaumburg Sectional
Top Runners – Brett Lucas JR, Paul Udoni SR, Nikita Smyrnov JR, Jacob Sparreo JR, Caleb Oh SR, Mattaeous Klonowski SR, Joseph Axelson SR, Tim Green JR, Adam Kody SR, Ari Machtinger JR, Dmytrio Roschenko SR, Zach Sprague SR.
Preview – It is tough to end a season when you least expect it. The goals last year for Stevenson were to make it to the state meet after a successful regular season. It will be tough to replace 3A 3200 Meter Run state champ Jared Borowsky. The Patriots still have 5 runners back from their team that finished 6th at the Schaumburg Sectional. “Out t raining went extremely well this summer we had about 70 athletes running as a team all summer,” said Scott Summers. “The varsity group has been extremely dedicated and diligent to putting in the miles and running the workouts.
The loss of Borowsky up front could hurt this team early in the year as they try to find their identity. What this team will need to do this fall is stay close together in a pack. Brett Lucas and Paul Udoni should be the runners up front for the team with Nikita Smyrov, Jacob Sparreo, Caleb Oh, and Joe Axelson close behind. A split of 40 to 45 seconds on their top 5 could put them in to state qualifying contention. Summers did make changes to the schedule adding the First to the Finish Invitational and Locktoberfest and dropping Peoria Notre Dame. The change will help them get ready for the post season. “The team has set goals to contend for the top 2 in the NSC and to win Regionals, and to qualify for state,” Summers added. All are goals that this team can accomplish. Let’s see how they adapt to the pack in September.
23 – Highland Park
Coach – Steve Buti
2015 Finish – 9th, 3A Schaumburg Sectional
Top Runners – Nate Amster JR, Jose Reyes SO, Charlie Skurie SR, Alec Glazier JR, Jonathan Rosenfeld SR, Matt Casey SR, Fitz Laurie SR, Juan Estella SR, Ben Bloom SR, Richard Haller SO, Hayden Schott SR, Josh Drummond SR.
Preview – You may be surprised to see the Giants in the top 25 but this team has earned the right to start the season in the top 25. Highland Park did not have their best race of the season placing 9th at the Schaumburg Sectional. Their 2nd place finish at the Central Suburban League Championships last October opened some eyes. The core of the team is back with 6 of the top 7 runners back. “We had a solid group of guys get in some high level training this summer,” Steve Buti said. “Our top returning runners are all showing improvement.”
There are no “household” names in their returning group especially after losing all state runner Brett Davidson. The pack has to be the key for this team making it to Peoria. The split off of #2 runner Nate Amster to #6 runner Jonathan Rosenfeld was only 23 seconds. The problem was that the pack was a little farther back than they wanted to. It was 25 seconds at their conference meet led by Jose Reyes. The pack was closer to the front in that meet. Watch for the emphasis of getting those 5 runners closer to the action. “The team is looking to build on the success of last season,” said Buti. “Our conference has changed slightly with Niles North moving to the CSL South and Vernon Hills joining the CSL North. Our team is looking to repeat as CSL North Champions even with the changes. We are excited to have the addition of a quality program like Vernon Hills. The team is working hard to repeat as Regional Champions and make a run at qualifying for the IHSA 3A State Meet.”
24 – Palatine
Coach – Chris Quick
2015 Finish – 15th, 3A Schaumburg Sectional
Top Runners – Brian Leonard SR, Ben Kontney SR, Evan Eckels JR, Jorge Corona SO, Nate Izewski SR, Curtis Kontney SR, Art Oshinson JR, Henry Lechowicz JR, Joe Ahlgrim SO, Aiden Kiefer JR, Matt Ahlgrim SR, Thomas Lambke SO, Zach Simons JR.
Preview – The last two years have not been at the standards that this Palatine team is used to. They finished 15th at last year’s Schaumburg Sectional. Part of it had to do with the team being very young and inexperienced. Part of it had to do with Brian Leonard, their #1 runner, who missed most of last season due to injury. He did run at Schaumburg finishing as the team’s 5th runner. “We had a solid summer of training once again. We have a great core of dedicated seniors leading the way. We tried to back off our mileage a bit (maxing out in the 70-80 mile range) and keep things more low key,” said Chris Quick. “Hopefully we will be fit, but more ready come October and November this year. Our senior foursome of Brian Leonard, Nate Izewski, Ben Kontney, and Curt Kontney led the way for us. They are great leaders for a solid core of juniors and sophomores who will need to step up if we are to be successful this season.”
Brian Leonard is back to 100% as evidenced by qualifying for state in the 1600 Meter Run and then coming back to run 4:18 for the mile at Magis Miles. He has the talent to finish in the top 25. As Chris Quick said, the senior group will have to exhibit their presence up front. Sophomores Jorge Corona and Joe Ahlgrim along with junior Henry Lechowicz will need to step up into the top 5. With 2 years being out of the spot light, I am sure this team is anxious to get back to Peoria. “We certainly have a chip on our shoulder after two years of sub-standard results by our expectations,” added Quick. “Last year was so tough after having a prospective All-State runner go down for the season on the afternoon of our first MSL dual. When Brian is healthy and fit as he is now, he adds a ton of fire and talent to our roster. We will certainly follow his competitive example. We have 10-12 guys who are legit contributors, including five returnees who have run 16:03 or faster on Detweiller. They are all healthy and had consistent summers so we hope to build around those guys.”
25 – Plainfield North
Coach – Andy Derks
2015 Finish – 18th, 3A State Meet
Top Runners – Omar Paramo JR (123, 15:38), James Suchy SR (128, 15:40), Ethan Prior JR (129, 15:41), Ben Otstott JR (157, 15:56), Walker Wells SR (183, 16:17), Gabe Nkpe SR, Spencer Brandt JR, Patrick Willhalm SR, Jack Anderson SO, Ian Willoughby JR, Nick Lowe SO.
Preview – The thought that Plainfield North would get to state last year did not look good especially after graduated Jack Sebok went down with an injury. The team relied on a pack to finish 2nd in their regional meet and then surprising everyone by finishing 2nd at the West Aurora Sectional. This team will not sneak up on anyone this season with 5 of their top 7 coming back from the 18th place state meet. “Our summer training has gone very well,” said Andy Derks. “I like the progress that we are making, and I believe we are a team that will get better and better as the season goes. We graduated two great runners and leaders in Jack Sebok and Brenden McGath, but it has been fun to see new leaders and front runners emerge. We have focused on getting the majority of our guys to take the next logical step in their training, and really pushing consistent, moderate mileage.”
This team did a good job last year running with a tight pack last fall. That trend will need to continue in 2016. The split between Omar Paramo, James Suchy, Ethan Prior, and Ben Ostott was only 18 seconds at state. Walker Wells was another 20 seconds back. There are 5 more runners that could potentially jump into the top 5. The key will be moving the pack up by 20 seconds. Then they could be in the hunt for another state trip. “Yes, our squad is definitely feeding of last year's success and first ever time qualifying for the state meet. While we are returning 5 runners from that team, we know that it is going to be very, very competitive in whatever Regional/Sectional we end up,” added Derks. “If we are going to make a return trip to state, let alone improve on last year's 18th place, we are going to rely on a very tight pack and need all of our guys to make a jump, with a couple guys making a big jump to be in the low 15's. Our goals are pretty simple. We want to win a conference championship and be top 10 in the st