Beacon-News boys cross-country preview
Updated: August 30, 2011 8:16PM
Aurora Central Catholic
Coach: Troy Kerber
Top returners: Seniors Alex Duncan, Matt Marter. Juniors Matt Meyers, Justin Jerwers, Dan Aguilera, Oscar Gomez. Sophomore Javier Montelongo.
Key newcomers: Freshman Daniel Aquino. Sophomores Matt Knapp, Carter Taylor.
Outlook: In over two decades of coaching the Chargers, Kerber thinks this year’s team has more potential than any other team he’s coached. “This could be one of the strongest boys teams ever,” Kerber said. “But I’m cautiously optimistic. If we run like we are capable of running, we could get to Peoria.” The Class 2A Chargers lost just a pair of seniors and last year’s No. 1 (Meyers) is back, along with fellow state track qualifiers Duncan and Marter. Alviar is projected to be in the top three and the three newcomers, Aquino, Knapp and Taylor, should be in the mix as well. Gomez spent last season out with an injury, but he is back.
Coach: Pricilla Copple
Top returners: Seniors Sam Schutte, Jared Osika, Jake Wert. Juniors Grason Poling, Jake Gehman. Sophomore John DiCicco.
Key newcomers: None.
Outlook: It is safe to say this Aurora Christian team is the strongest the program has ever had. The Eagles, who had no seniors on last year’s team that went second at the Seneca regional, seventh at the Aurora Christian sectional and had one state qualifier, Schutte, are better than ever. “Other coaches have told me we are the team to beat, especially in (Class) 1A,” Copple said. “We have a strong returning team, and we are hoping to get the boys to state.” Schutte went 35th overall at state. He, Gehman and Wert are projected to be in the top three and Osika, Poling and DiCicco will fight for a spot in the top five.
Coach: Mike DiDomenico
Top returners: Seniors Mike Redmond, Chris Spadafora, Brandon Phillips, Sean Somer, Kevin Millen, David Daniels. Juniors Chris Koch, Trevor Hollis.
Key newcomers: Sophomores Mitch Zabka, Nick Low, Chris Orlow. Freshman Ryan Wieties.
Outlook: Eight veteran runners are back for the Bulldogs. DiDomenico has no doubt the four newcomers will be battling for top spots with them. “It’s good competition between them,” he said, noting the increase in numbers at the middle school level the past few years has really boosted the program. “They’ll be challenged.” Two senior captains, however, do stand out in Redmond and Spadafora. Redmond missed qualifying for state by a mere second at the St. Charles East sectional and Spadafora has improved since last year. “Our team will go as far as those two will take us,” DiDomenico said. “Mike is determined to get to state ... and Chris is like a coach out there.”
Coach: Shane Gillespie
Top returners: Seniors Ricky Barajas, Abel Mosqueda. Sophomore Isaac Soriano.
Key newcomers: Freshman Felipe Nino.
Outlook: Gillespie has a fab four in Barajas, Mosqueda, Soriano and Nino. “That group is the fastest four I may have ever had,” said Gillespie, who hopes these four will be among the best in the conference as well as qualify for the sectional meet. “It’s exciting to watch. This group is fast.” The Class 3A Tomcats, however, are still looking for that fifth runner to complete the pack. In terms of team goals for the season, Gillespie said he wants the Tomcats to bond as a young team and have the type of season that will help the underclassmen prepare for the future.
Coach: Bob Thomson
Top returners: Seniors Peter Archibald, Ryan Fromm. Juniors Nate Wendt, Michael Bianchina, Dan Herrera, Ryan Rasmussen. Sophomores Blaine Bartell, Stephen Guevara.
Key newcomers: Juniors Christian Stornello, Jordan Midgley, Blake Peik.
Outlook: The Vikings went 15th overall at the Class 3A state meet last year. Four of the top seven are back, which includes Archibald, Wendt, Bianchina and Bartel. “It’s nice to have state experience back,” Thomson said. “The alternates who went to state (Fromm, Guevara, Herrera, Rasmussen) went and got the bug enough to know what it’s like to be at state.” The new juniors, along with some freshmen may be fighting for spots in the top 10. The younger runners who ran with the freshman and sophomore team have tasted success, as they won the Upstate Eight Conference meet last year.
Coaches: Will and Elizabeth Navis
Top returners: Senior Jacob Henry. Juniors Wes Beck, Kenzo Esquivel, Bryan Hoffman, Ross Skelly, Sam Walder
Key newcomers: Sophomores Ben Rabe, Sagar Punhani, Brennan Wakey.
Outlook: The Class 2A Titans lost five seniors, which gives them a completely different look this year. Coach Will Navis said he’s OK with that. “When you graduate that many seniors — with some of them on varsity for all three years — the identity of the team were those guys,” Navis said. Six, however, are back from last year’s squad that went second in the Northeastern Athletic Conference in the second year IMSA was in the conference. They missed first place by mere seconds, which makes the Titans want it even more this year. It helps they have the talent to do so, despite not having a clear-cut top runner. “We love the challenge of figuring out who the top seven will be,” Navis said. “It makes them push each other.”
Coach: Chad Clarey
Top returners: Seniors Nate Rehkoph, Clayton Brundige. Juniors Conor Johnson, John Meisenger, Brandon Huber. Sophmores Kyle Carter, Ryan Bower.
Key newcomers: Juniors Nick Messina, Ryan Paulson, Brad Kigyos, Nick Albano. Seniors Miroljub Marin, Frankie Furco, Austin Paul.
Outlook: Class 2A Kaneland, which is hoping to host a sectional this year, does not have a clear-cut No. 1 runner, which is just fine with Clarey. It could be Brundige one day, Meisenger the next, or perhaps Bower or Carter. Marin, the football player turned cross country runner, could be up there too. “I have confidence in all of them,” Clarey said. “It’s a nice pack.” Brundige was injured at last year’s conference meet and was out the rest of season. He is at full force now. Clarey said both he and Meisenger had a great summer. He also said Marin is a workhorse who is in top physical condition. The Knights are also junior-heavy this year, as seven total are on the team.
Coach: Dan Billish
Top returners: Seniors Nolan Dickson, Will Graft, Rich Parilla, Matt Choice, Brady Hunt. Juniors Josh Kanute, Liam O’Dea.
Key newcomers: Sophomores Carter Dixon, John Graft, Eric Lifka, Kevin Grahovec.
Outlook: The Cadets have high expectations for themselves this year after finishing third in Class 2A last year at the state tournament (tied with U-high). It was the first state trophy in program history. “The goal this year is to go for the state title,” Billish said. “We are shooting for high standards.” Last year was also their fifth consecutive conference title and second straight regional title. It’s all expected again this year, despite losing two all-state standouts in Ben Kanute and Bennett Marsh. The similar one-two punch this year is Dickson and Graft. Nine of the top 12 are back, which gives the team both experience and depth. Billish, who has been with the Cadets for six years — three as head coach — said this past summer was the best he’s ever experienced at Marmion.
Coach: Chris Rohde
Top returners: Seniors Matt Stewart, Joe Stewart, Mike Hennessy. Junior Colin Yorke.
Key newcomers: Juniors Gabe Malca, Ekant Desai. Sophomore Calvin Nguyen. Freshman Brendan McGrath.
Outlook: Joe Stewart is Metea Valley’s first state qualifier. He made it last year and finished 89th overall in Class 3A. His twin brother, Matt, missed qualifying by mere seconds. The twins are back and better than ever with hopes to be all-staters. “It’s definitely fun (coaching twins),” said Rohde, who has coached the three seniors (the other is Hennessy, who was out with a stress fracture last year) since the school opened. “They push each other and know when the other is having a bad day.” The seniors should all be at the top of the pack along with the other returning runner, Yorke. The fifth runner, however, is still unknown, but there’s a great new group to choose from. “The potential is good, but we just have to make it through the season healthy,” Rohde said.
Coach: Dan Whipple
Top returners: Seniors Zack Kingsbury, Jared Konrardy, Mike Morrell, Adam Lowry. Juniors Caleb Beck, Christian Bartell, Dominic Pizzo, Brandon Ramsey. Sophomores Chase Haul, Desmond Meyer.
Key newcomers: Junior Peter Rogalla. Sophomore Alec Cepeda. Freshman Peter Johnsrud.
Outlook: The returning four Class 3A Panther seniors have been leaders since their sophomore season, so by now, they know exactly what they need to do to make this season successful. “So far, things they have been very good,” Whipple said. “Every year, they have progressed and grown. They bring a lot of good experience and have established expectations for the program.” Whipple hopes this group will especially provide guidance to the less experienced runners, especially the newcomers.
Coach: Scott Gengler
Top returners: Senior Jordan Maher. Juniors Andrew Holm, Andrew Tatsch, Joe Molina. Sophomores Nick Karasch, Charles Thornton.
Key newcomers: Freshman Turner Kelly. Sophomore Tyler McQualarty.
Outlook: Holm was the only sectional qualifier last year, which makes him one of the top Wolves this year. Gengler said Kelly and Karasch will be in the top three as well. “It will depend on the race (who will be the No. 1 runner),” he said. “It’s exciting and unpredictable in a good way.” Just one senior makes Class 3A Oswego East young, but that’s not a big concern. “We will grow a lot this year,” Gengler said. “There’s a good possibility we will finish in the top three in the conference and qualify for sectionals.”
Coach: Matt Johnson
Top returners: Seniors Andrew DeBolt, Michael Miller, Jose Loeza, Alfonso Macias. Junior Max Morello. Sophomore Luke Romano.
Key newcomers: Sophomores Manny Campos, Tyler Ament, Josh Ketterman.
Outlook: The Class 1A Reapers went second at the Interstate Eight Conference meet (behind Westmont) and third at the Seneca regional. This year, they want that conference title and perhaps a showing at sectionals. “Our main focus in conference, and on paper, we have the key runners and tools to do it,” Johnson said. The key runners start with Miller and Morello, who Johnson said are in “outstanding shape” and will have a “tremendous year.” The two have been close in every practice and workout so far. “We’ll be tough with those two up front,” Johnson said.
Coach: Jeff Smith
Top returners: Seniors Matt Lundeen, Joe Gaesser, Chris Biernacki, Robert Manley. Juniors Robby Paul, Joe Kimmey, Nick Rudd, Brian Franco, Carlton Pendry. Sophomores Scott Marisette, Dan Cortez, Karter Hothan, Jack Lutkus, Clint Updike.
Key newcomers: Senior Dylan Woodraska. Junior Brian Moran.
Outlook: Numbers are down for Class 2A Sandwich, but talent is still there. Lundeen leads the Indians, as he has been running longer than anyone else on the team. “His leadership and vision very much reflect the personality of our entire program,” Smith said. Gaesser, another senior, has been in the top five for three years, and Biernacki and Manley add to the senior mix. There’s a handful of good juniors and all three returning sophomores were in the top five last year. With only two newcomers, Smith said the team will have to push themselves this year “Several of them have to step up,” Smith said. “Right now our top six or seven runners are very evenly-matched. We have to have them stay together as a group, but at the same time, the entire ground needs to move well into the 16s (minutes in three-mile meets).”
Coach: Elizabeth Ness
Top returner: Senior Joe Tuburan.
Key newcomer: Sophomore Zack York.
Outlook: The Class 1A Bobcats only have two running as individuals in Tuburan and York. Tuburan has a lot of experience while York is relatively new to the sport. Ness said both are hard-working and dedicated. “Joe is in a tough spot because he doesn’t have anyone to work with,” Ness said. “He’s out in front by himself. He’s a great kid with tons of heart.” York competed in track and field for the first time last year and just picked up cross country recently. “He’s going to finish every race the best he can,” Ness said. “The more he learns, the better he’ll be.”
Coach: Kevin Rafferty
Top returners: Seniors Alex Foote, Christian Noblett. Junior Julian Morrisson.
Key newcomers: Seniors Nik Thapa, Ryan O’Sullivan. Junior Austin Carlson. Sophomore Garrett Eicher.
Outlook: Losing six graduated seniors, including David Groeber, the school record holder for three miles, makes this Warrior squad young and inexperienced. “We’ll be looking to introduce a bunch of young guys into the varsity lineup and get more competitive as the season progresses,” Rafferty said. “We’d like to be in a position to run our best race at sectionals and challenge for a state qualifying spot.” Class 3A Waubonsie Valley will be looking to improve on its fourth-place showing in the regional and seventh overall at the sectional.
Coach: Matt Sinnott
Top returners: Seniors Josh Robinson, Vontrell Hawkins, Nathan Pearlstrom, Calvin Robertson. Juniors Omar Gomez, Robert Herrera, Graham Isaacson, Zach Truckenbrod.
Key newcomers: Juniors Alan Martinez, Brandon McKay, Deonta Motley. Sophomore Joe Chavez.
Outlook: Five of the seven runners from last year’s Class 3A team that finished 16th at state are back, which will help the Blackhawks in their quest to get back to state. “We are anxious to see where we are at,” said Sinnott, whose Blackhawks were the first team to make it to state in 35 years. “We’ve been training since June — that’s a long time training, and I’m very excited.” With a nice mix of upperclassmen and newcomers, expect West Aurora to once again be competitive. “They certainly have the ability to do great things,” Sinnott said.
Coach: Chris Muth
Top returners: Seniors Jake Callahan, Brandon Beerup, Kyle Culp. Juniors Eric Baker, Chris Kellogg, Nick Harrison, Zak Arcara, Shawn O’Malley. Sophomore Justin Vacha.
Key newcomers: Freshmen Jake Hoffert, Luke Hoffert.
Outlook: The Foxes lost only three seniors from last year’s Class 2A team that finished eighth at state. State is once again on the radar this year. “This is definitely a state team,” Muth said. “It’s an obtainable goal. We have a lot of experience. They’ll keep working hard.” Muth already has a good idea who his top seven runners are (Baker, Callahan, Kellogg, Vacha, O’Malley and Harrison), plus the twin Hoffert rookies will also be somewhere in the mix. “By the end of the year, those two will be in the top seven,” Muth said.