The cross country season is underway, and here are previews of teams from around the Kane County Chronicle coverage area.
Coach: Bronco Meeks
Top returners: Quintin Lowe, jr.; Jonah Fallon, sr. Adam Miller, jr.
Key newcomers: Jack McCormick, jr.
Worth noting: Batavia graduated some top performers in Ryan Mansour, Dylan Knanishu and Ian Rousseau off of last season’s fifth-place regional team, but bring back a number of athletes from the spring’s track team that brought home plenty of hardware. Fallon and Lowe, both track state qualifiers, is expected to lead the next wave of Bulldogs. Batavia took fourth in the DuKane Conference as a team last season.
Coach: Vince Neil
Top returners: Robert Perry, sr.; Yusuf Baig, jr.; Zac Schmidt, sr.
Key newcomer: Lukas Moldenhauer, fr.
Worth noting: The Rockets are coming off a very good season in which they took second in both regionals and sectionals. Schmidt was part of their fifth place at state boys track team in the spring and will headline a strong group behind him with Baig and Perry.
“I believe that we have the makings for a strong team this fall. We will be in the mix for 2A. The boys have shown great improvement and will need a middle pack to move our team to the next level in 2A. We will continue to progress our young guys and look to our top three to set the bar,” Neil said.
Coach: Peter Raak
Top returners: Brady Ahern, sr.; Nathan Lehman, sr; Logan Keen, sr.
Key newcomers: Andrew Warcup, jr.
Worth noting: Perhaps the most notable graduation in the area besides St. Charles East’s Luke Schildmeyer is Geneva’s Ben Calusinski, who unfortunately was plagued by injuries, but would typically place well in postseason. As a team, Geneva placed 10th in sectionals and will be looking to improve on that, led by Ahren, Lehman and Keen. Warcup is a name to watch, as he’s made the full transition from soccer to cross country. He competed in the cross country season when soccer was moved to the spring and has potential.
“We have some top seniors who will set a good pace along with some eager juniors who are looking to make a name for themselves. Coming together as a team and mixing as a cohesive unit will be paramount,” Raak said.
Coach: Chad Clarey
Top returners: Nolan Allen, sr.; Logan Cunz, sr.; Christian Phillips, sr.; Braden Babka, jr.
Key newcomer: Trevor Neal, jr.;
Worth noting: Kaneland graduated Isaiah Dallal, Aaron Lodwig and Parker Malone off of last year’s regional winning and second-place sectional team. However, they have their three seniors: Allen, Cunz and Phillips – all four-year varsity runners – all back from their top seven last season. Kaneland could see some solid growth from both Neal and Babka to supplement.
“All three [seniors] were state series members of the state championship team in 2019…now, they have the opportunity to lead,” Clarey said. “I think what’s most important for those three to do would be to continue to work at sticking together throughout their races, at least through the first two miles as best they can, which really gives us a good fighting chance at good points to start off our scoring.”
Coach: Andrew Lifka
Top returners: Jack Schokora, sr; Niraj Abraham, sr; Mitchell Gratz, jr.
Key newcomers: John Daffenberg, fr.
Worth noting: The Cadets placed fifth in their sectional in the fall and are hoping to build upon that with a top-seven that includes a pair of sophomores in Lucas Chung and Connor Carlson. Schokora, Abraham and Gratz will lead as upperclassmen, while Daffenberg could push for a more prominent role in time.
“We have a pack of four sophomores and freshmen that will give our veteran leaders the support they need to round out a competitive top seven roster,” Lifka said.
St. Charles East
Coach: Chris Bosworth
Top returners: Micah Wilson, sr; Joey Xotla, sr; Mitch Garcia, jr; Jed Wilson, so.
Key newcomers: Jamie Hauser, fr; Aidran Ahuatl, so.
Worth noting: The Saints bring back one of the state’s top distance runners in Micah Wilson, who is the returning Kane County Chronicle boys track Athlete of the Year. The Saints are reigning regional team champions and Wilson won that individually. The graduation of Kane County Chronicle cross country Athlete of the Year Luke Schildmeyer is notable, but the Saints have solid experience to offset that, headlined by Xotla, who ran in their state 3,200 relay and Jed Wilson, who was in their top seven runners in the fall.
“We have a relatively young team with many underclassmen. We may have lost some top runners to graduation, but this team is determined to create their own history. We will develop as a team throughout the season and will look to be at our best when it counts,” Bosworth said.
St. Charles North
Coach: Kevin Harrington
Top returners: Zane Luteyn, sr; Alex Stone, sr.
Key newcomers: Kyle Deaton, jr.; Matthew Kuryla, jr.
Worth noting: The North Stars graduated a trio of standouts in Noah Eng, Cooper Hornstrom and Eric Zankowski off of last year’s team that finished sixth in the DuKane Conference and fourth at regionals. The North Stars have 11 seniors listed on their roster, and will be headlined by Luteyn and Stone to get them off to a fast start.
Coach: Scott Nelson
Top returners: Chris Spahn, sr; Sam Andrzejewski, jr; Daniel O’ Connell, jr
Key newcomers: Joe Coco, sr; Nate Rodriquez, sr.
Worth noting: The Spartans are well-positioned for another strong season, as they return their top five runners from last year in Spahn, Andrzejewski, O’ Connell, Hernandez and Chris Covone. The defending Metro Suburban Conference champions, they took fourth at the unofficial state championship and will look to improve upon that. Coco, Rodriquez, Kyle Sheahin and Brendan Spahn will also supplement the team.
“We believe we can challenge for the conference championship this season. It is a strong conference from top to bottom,” Nelson said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle