Last year was the year that teams in East-Central Illinois dominated 1A.Five of the first 6 teams at the state meet were from the St. Teresa Sectional. I doubt that we will see that again, but do not be surprised if a team from that region takes the team championship.
St. Thomas More from Champaign is the school that is one of the favorites. Elmwood-Brimfield or Rock Island Alleman could take the trophy back with them. Do not forget about defending state champ Mt. Zion as well.
Here is a look at the top Boys 1A cross country teams in Illinois for the 2012 season.
Illinois Boys 1A XC Previews
1. Champaign St. Thomas More
2011 Finish – 4th 1A State Meet
Coach – Dave Behm
Top Returnees – Nick Hess JR (19, 15:28), Sean Kelly SR (46, 15:54), Sam Powers JR (68, 16:11), Jacob Helfrich SR (78, 16:19), Brendan Remington JR (166, 17:31), Christian Wilson JR (188, 18:04), Jack Bolger JR, George Pennacchi SO, Matthew White SR.
Notes – Each year, St. Thomas More has continued to climb the ladder towards the top of the mountain. At last year’s state meet, Coach Dave Behm’s squad went through a few problems. Junior Nick Hess had the flu the day of the meet, Senior Jacob Helfrich was running with a torn ligament in his foot, and Junior Sam Powers was running on a twisted ankle. Still this team was able to finish fourth despite of all of the heartaches. Expectations are high for this squad in 2011.
“Our summer training went very well. We had our annual camp Iroquois and attended the Bradley University Cross Country Camp,” said Behm. “I think our men’s team had a great summer of training and are certainly ready for what lies ahead.” Six runners return from last year’s team hungrier than ever. Hess had a good summer of training according to Behm after just missing the finals in the 1600 at state track. The pack behind Hess will be the key with Powers, Kelly, and Helfrich need to stay close together. If this team wants to be in the hunt, a fifth man will need to step up for the Sabres. The split last year at state was 59 seconds. They will need to stay under 60 again this year. Along with that, this team has the capability of placing 4 in the first 35.
“Our expectations for this year are pretty lofty. When I arrived at STM two years ago we raised the bar to be competitive at the state level and to consistently be in the hunt for a title,” concluded Behm. “This is the fruition of those goals set then. If everything goes well and we stay healthy we should be one of the teams that races for a State Championship.”
2011 Finish – 8th 1A State Meet
Coach – Gregg Meyers
Top Returnees – Noah Isbell SR (31, 15:44), Jake Callister SR (62, 16:07), Tyler Cox SR (80, 16:20), Jake Osmulski SR (98, 16:33), Nate Herridge SO (99, 16:34), Ben Adkins SO (136, 16:58), Austin Teel SR (144, 17:03), Ian Armbruster SO, Nick Groper JR, Kelly Huffman SO, Job Ilsbell JR, Dan Kepple JR.
Notes – This will be the one team that will challenge St. Thomas More is squad is the one. All twelve runners from last year’s state roster return for Coach Gregg Meyers. From my experiences, there is nothing dangerous than a hungry team with a chip on its shoulder from the prior year. It becomes more dangerous when the nucleus of that group are seniors. The top 4 runners back are seniors.
Noah Isbell will be the front runner that the Trojans will need. Last year at state he finished 31st. He has the ability to be in the top 25 in November. After Isbell, watch for a tight 2-5 pack. They will need if they are to contend for the state title. At the state meet, these runners would need to place between 28 -40 and keep the split to close to 40 seconds. Last year at state, the split for Elmwood was 50 seconds. It is a talented team that could be the ones to leave Detweiller with the state trophy.
3. Rock Island Alleman
2011 Finish – 14th 1A State Meet
Coach – Doug Burke
Top Returnees – Ethan Adlfinger SR (13, 15:23), Zach Hird JR (77, 16:19), Wesley Graham SO (126, 16:52), Keenan Otto SO (127, 16:53), Axel Box SR (154, 17:17), Seth McMillan SR (159, 17:24), Connor Darrow SO, Alec Ewers JR, Tom Fiewieger SR, Yvan Rocha SR, Matthew Mallory JR (transfer from Prophetstown).
Notes – Six runners return from last year’s fourteenth place team. Ethan Adlfinger, who placed 14th last year at state meet and attained all state honors in track in the 1600 in 2A, could be one of the top runners in the state. The senior ran 9:26 last spring. Junior Zach Hird will be a key to the Pioneers. He has the ability to place in the top 30.
It is a given that Adlfinger will be battling for the individual state championship, so Doug Burke’s 2-5 needs to keep their split at a minimum. Last year at the state meet, the 1-5 split was 80 seconds. This year they will need to stay within 30 seconds of Adlfinger and keep the overall split between 60-65 seconds.
4. Mt. Zion
2011 Finish – 1A State Champion
Coach – Bill Harbeck
Top Returnees – Jake Brown SR (3, 14:58), Mohammad Hosseini SO, Curtis Reed SO, Noah Gingerich JR, Connor Moore SR, Aden Gerhardt SO, Timmy McElroy SR.
Notes – There were questions about this team after state last year. The 2011 champions would only return all state runner Jake Brown and would have to start building from there. After seeing how they performed at Edwardsville without top runner Timmy McElroy running, this team could be in contention for a trophy.
Brown will contend for an individual state title. After that, sophomores Mohammad Hosseini and Curtis Reed should be the second and third runners. There needs to be improvement on the 2-5 split. Again like Adlfinger, Brown will be way up front. If one of these sophomores is in the top 30 and the split on the 2-5 stays around 35 seconds, this team could be in contention for a trophy. This is not a deep team. Good health will have to be the key phrase for this team in the next few months.
2011 Finish – 5th 1A State Meet
Coach – Mike Lynn
Top Returnees – Connor Ehnle JR (48, 15:56), Caleb Imig JR (88, 16:26), Wilson Pflederer SO 89, 16:26), Cotton Dailey SR (135, 16:57), Paul Michael SR, Travis Pflederer JR, Austin Siedlick SR, Colin Sielick SO, Daniel Smalley SO.
Notes – Coach Mike Lynn did lose all state runner Cole Dill to graduation, but this is still a squad that should compete for a top 3 finish at the state meet. Connor Ehnle, who ran with Dill most of the yea but had a bad state meet, should be in the top 10 in the state meet and be the lead runner on this squad. The 2-5 runners behind him need to be close to each other if this team wants to improve on their finish from 2011.
2011 Finish – 11th 2A Belvidere Sectional
Coach – Keith Forth
Top Returnees – Aaron Spivey SR, D.J. Wolfram SR, Mike Bland SR, Ryan Garrett JR, James Kaht JR, Robert Boles JR, Ben Gardner JR, Cole Bayer SO, Greg Arther JR, James Galla SR, Robert Liston SR.
Notes – Last year Mt. Zion moved down to 1A and look what happened. This year, Richmond-Burton has moved down to 1A and has expectations of placing high in this new class. Coach Keith Forth welcomes back 6 of last year’s top 7 that has designs of returning from Peoria with a state trophy.
D.J. Wolfram , Aaron Spivey, and Mike Bland are seniors that will be looked upon to lead this team. Spivey and Wolfram have the talent to place in the top 20 at state. Their 1-5 splits last year averaged around 38 seconds towards the end of last year. If they can maintain that with Wolfram and Spivey towards the front, good things will happen. “Having dropped down to 1A, R-B is looking toward making some noise in the state series,” said Coach Forth.
2011 Finish – 15th 1A State Meet
Coach – Michael McHale
Top Returnees – T.J. Pitcock JR (43, 15:53), Jackson Halsmer SR (75, 16:17), Nick Lundin SR (145, 17:04), Connor Sible SR (150, 17:12), Nate Brass (156, 17:20), Peter Hodapp JR, Dalton Seebruck SR, Chris Sible SR, Nick Wagner JR.
Notes – This team could take a giant step to the head of the class in 2012. Five runners from last year’s top seven return for Coach Michael McHale with hopes on improving last year’s 15th place finish. T.J. Pitcock may step up to be one of the top runners in the northwest region of Illinois. He placed 43rd last year with sights on the top 25 in this campaign. #2 runner Jackson Halsmer qualified for junior nationals in swimming over the summer. He is fit, but it will take him a little time to get into running shape. “The varsity ran well this summer,” McHale said. “We would like to have a solid showing at sectionals and PR at state.”
2011 Finish – 6th 1A State Meet
Coach – Bill Owens
Top Returnees – Ian Schick SR (71, 16:12), Michael Gleason SO (90, 16:27), Eli Cook JR (117, 16:46), John Frereletti SO (149, 17:11), Colin Biesiada SO, Jacob Headman JR, Grant Henson JR, Andy Moore JR.
Notes – Coach Bill Owens lost his top two runners from last year’s 6th place team to graduation. He will have to rely on a pack this year for success. It is conceivable that the top 5 can stay within 60 seconds of each other, but they will need one runner in the top ten in major invitationals or the top 30 at the state meet. Either Ian Schick or Michael Gleason could fit that role. “We had a decent summer of training and are ramping up from there,” said Owens. “I think this team is looking strong and will push to improve on last season’s results.”
9. Ottawa Marquette
2011 Finish – 10th 1A State Meet
Coach – Dr. Dan Cheatham
Top Returnees – Luke Hill SR (60, 16:06), Mark Spika SO (70, 16:12), Quinn Crowley SR (130, 16:55), John Weissensel JR (147, 16:08), Bryce Hinkelman JR (170, 17:33), Doug Skromme SR (204, 19:00), Corey Bugelholl SO, Dylan Duffield JR, Sal Evola JR, Paul Jones JR, Ken Murphy SR.
Notes – Six runners return from last year’s 10th place team. This team does have the talent to place in the top 5 in November. Luke Hill did not have his best race last fall at state. He placed 4th last spring in the 3200 at the state track meet. He has the talent to place in the top 15 on November 3rd. There could be a gap between Hill and the rest of the pack if Hill is towards the front. For this team to have success, the split between 2-5 needs to be around 30 seconds. If that happens, the final team standings will take care of itself.
2011 Finish – 11th 1A State Meet
Coach – Jeff Trask
Top Returnees – Cade Martens JR (69, 16:11), Brian King JR (110, 16:39), Elijah Bobell SR (118, 16:46), Kade Hedrick SO, Kyle Dujackovich JR.
Notes – This is a team that lost their #1 runner Zach Quinn to graduation. There are only 9 runners on the team for Coach Jeff Trask this season so the watch word again is “health”. Still, the team is way ahead of their fitness level from last year according to Trask. This could be a team that will have a strong tight pack of three with Junior Cade Martens to lead the way. The questions then will be who will step up as the 4th and 5th for Trask and what will the gap be. “I feel very confident we have a strong top 5 that can produce a state berth again,” said Trask.
11. Urbana University
2011 Finish – 10th 1A Decatur St. Teresa Sectional
Coach – Doug Mynatt
Top Returnees – Vinay Shanbhag JR, Arch Robison JR, Jonny Yockey JR, George Gunter JR, Ansel Higgs SO, Bryan Hwu JR, David Bervelt JR, Drew Graham SR, Noah Iniguez SO, Andrew Nguyen SO, Robert Barnhardt SO.
Notes – This team could be a year away with the top 7 runners all projected to be underclassmen. But why not now instead of 2013? This team has the capability of getting to Detweiller in November. Coach Doug Mynatt knows that he cannot over do it with this bunch “On average, we’re probably younger than most teams, so the training years are lagging behind, too,” said Mynatt. “With that in mind, I don’t push them to run mega-miles over the summer. However, the ones that needed to run ran the miles they needed to get them ready for this season” George Gunter, Jonny Yockey and Vinay Shanbhag all ran on U-High’s team that placed 9th in 2010. They will be up to the challenge this season. The split is projected to be close to 55 seconds this season. The question will be if one of the juniors will be battling with the state’s best. The Illineks will be in the 1A’s toughest sectional. Watch for them to advance through it this year.
2011 Finish – 7th 1A Decatur St. Teresa Sectional
Coach – Kevin Kramer
Top Returnees – Alex Matlock SR, Seth Applegate SR, Neil Yockey SR, Myles Foor SR, Drennian Martin JR, Cory Powers SR, Drew Snider SO.
Notes – All top 7 runners return for Coach Kevin Kramer and the top four are seniors. Earlier on, we explored the theory of a senior laden team. This is a deep team. “Our five seniors have put in a great summer and they are really focused on their goals. Myles Foor, Cory Powers, Seth Applegate, Neil Yockey and Alex Matlock. Anyone of them could be #1 at anytime on our team,” said Kramer. “Depth is probably our strength. We should be able to put seven guys within forty five seconds to a minute of each other.” This team will have to rely on the pack to advance. They could be a sleeper team that could bounce into the top 5 by the time the state series begins.
2011 Finish – 12th 1A State Meet
Coach – Brett Willhoit
Top Returnees – Timmy Wiltshire SR (67, 16:11), Jorge Pichardo JR (74, 16:16), Marcelino Perales JR (129, 16:54), Dan Kirk SR (196, 18:23), Eduardo Galvez JR, Noe Salas-Bernal JR, Garrett Sprow SR.
Notes – Four runners return from last year’s 12th place team and aiming for higher goals this fall. “The boy’s team is looking to continue the success we had last year. After finishing 12th at state last year, we are aiming for a top 10 finish this year,” said Coach Brett Willhoit. “Our strength was our pack last year, and we are hoping that will be the case again.” Timmy Wiltshire and Jorge Pichardo are equal in talent and should share the lead role again for this team.
2011 Finish – 3rd 1A State Meet
Coach – Jeff Butler
Top Returnees – Jesse Galway JR (72, 16:13), Andrew Hanselman SR (85, 16:22), Sawyer Biddle JR, Michael Kilby JR, Will Montgomery SO, Matt Norvell SO, Sully Brawn JR, Alex Uhlarik JR.
Notes – This team will take a hit after losing State Champ Steve Schroeder and all state runner Luke Zocher. Still, this team could be a force by the time the state series rolls around. Only two from last year’s trophy winning team return. Jesse Galway and Andrew Hanselman both have the talent to place in the top 35. “Our summer was the best turnout that we have had in a long time,” said Coach Jeff Butler. “We are hoping to surprise people with some of our younger guys.”
2011 Finish – 16th 1A State Meet
Coach – Elizabeth Green
Top Returnees – Devin Johnson SR (52, 15:59), Connor Saad SR (80, 16:41), Josh Green SR (121, 16:48), Seth Lilly SO, Austin Cowley JR, Lucas White SO, Braedon Bonnell SO, Kyle Behrens FR.
Notes – This is another team that could surprise at the end of the year. New coach Elizabeth Green only has three runners back from last year’s state team, but an infusion of new athletes from other sports could make this team tough. Devin Jonson should be the lead runner on this team with the ability to make it into the top 25 in November. The key will be how quick the new athletes adapt to racing. “We have high hopes this year of defending our conference crown and making another run at state,” said Green.
16. Tolono Unity
2011 Finish – 2nd 1A State Meet
Coach – Dike Stirrett
Top Returnees – Nick Godsell JR (86, 16:22), Kyle Gateley JR (184, 17:58), Joe Baker JR, Lucas Decker SR, Colby Mumm JR, Jacob Ping JR, Caleb Wood SO, Austin Woodward FR, Dawson Dodds FR, Robbie Decker FR.
Notes – This will be a complete face lift in a way for the Rockets. The top 5 runners have all graduated making this season a year of testing different lineups for Coach Dike Stirrett. Sixth and Seventh men Nick Godsell and Kyle Gateley had a good summer of training and will be the leaders for the team. Stirett has a good freshman class coming up led by Austin Woodward (brother of graduated all-stater Scott). Don’t watch for the freshman to contribute immediately. Stirrett wants them to develop slowly. “It is going to be a very young team, but they have shown great desire in the summer training and early training this fall and they seem to be hungry for success,” said Stirett. “Like I said, there won’t be much pressure on them and it will be fun to watch them develop and hopefully improve over the next couple years.”
17. Stanford Olympia
2011 Finish – 18th 1A State Meet
Coach – Michael Neisler
Top Returnees – Ryan Van Dyke JR (106, 16:36), Connor Stine SO (116, 16:46), Tom Evelsizer JR (186, 18:00), Jacob Irons SR (197, 18:24), Mathieu Berube JR, Justin Brown JR, Rook Kassabaum SR, Ryan Weseloh SR.
Notes – 4 runners return from a team that is looking to move into the top 15 at state. It will be a young squad by Junior Ryan VanDyke and Sophomore Connor Stine. Their 1-5 split right now is projected at 80 seconds. That will need to decrease if they want to make it back to Peoria.
2011 Finish – 6th 1A Oregon Sectional
Coach – Joe & Janet Erb
Top Returnees – Shawn Patrick SR, Nathan Amrose SO, Nathan Nozzi JR, Nathan Smith SO, Ryan Traum JR, Allan Daly JR, Christian Devant SO, Brett Hill JR, Billy Schwengeles JR.
Notes – We could see this team back at Peoria in November. Eleven out of their top 12 return from a team that placed 6th last fall at their sectional. Senior Shawn Patrick should lead the way for this young team. Their remaining top 7 could all be underclassman. Patrick has the ability to be in the top 30 at state. If they can get a 55-60 split off of him, this team could be a top 10 challenger at state.
19. St. Joseph-Ogden
2011 Finish- 8th 1A Decatur St. Teresa Sectional
Coach – Jim Acklin
Top Returnees – Corey Thompson JR, Drew Knipfer SR, Braydon Crozier JR, Nick Poff SO, Zach Carmichael JR, Rylan Housenga SO, Bryant Anderson JR.
Notes – This team lost their top 2 runners from a team that just missed qualifying for state from the toughest sectional in 1A. It will not be much easier for the Spartans as they return 4. Drew Knipfer and Brandon Crozier of placing in the top 50 this fall. The team has talent to have a split under 60 seconds. “We are young and inexperienced, but nobody will out-work us,” said Coach Jim Acklin.
2011 Finish – 10th 1A Lisle Sectional
Coach – Steve Wolf
Top Returnees – Nate Novota SR, Anthony Alessi SO, Mike Robertson JR, Nick Dea SO, Ryan Compton JR, Eric Peterson JR, Mike Przzyborowski JR.
Notes – This could be a big surprise team by the time the state series rolls around. Coach Steve Wolf welcomes all of his top 7 that has the capability to make it to the state meet. Nate Novota just missed making it to state last fall by one second. He should be one of the sectional’s best in 2012. Sophomores Nick Dea and Anthony Alessi had improved after a good summer. This is a team that averaged a 120 second split last year. That time needs to drop if the Sentinels want to toe the line at Detweiller in November.
21. Elmhurst Timothy Christian
2011 Finish – 22nd 1A State Meet
Coach – Richard Zylstra
Top Returnees – Phillip Stanton SR (165, 17:30), Clark Doig SR (167, 17:31), Jimmy Larkin SR (173, 17:46), Christian Rasmussen SR (185, 17:59), Andrew Groenewold SR (191, 18:08), Nate Miller JR, Jim Mittlestaedt SR, Aaron Snoeyink SR.
Notes – Even though this team lost its top 2 runners due to graduation, Coach Dick Zylstra’s squad still has the talent to return to Peoria in November to improve on their 22nd place finish. This will be a senior laden team that has the talent to have a sub 30 second split. If they can do that and move the pack up, this is a team that could be a top 15 contender.
22. Olney East Richland
2011 Finish – 6th 1A Decatur St. Teresa Sectional
Coach – Louie Gassmann
Top Returnees – Nick Dobbs JR, Connor Schonert SR, Jonah Wendling SO, Dalyn Brach SO, Matthew DeVenicia SO.
Notes – Could be an interesting year for Coach Louie Gassmann. Last year, they just missed making it out of a tough St. Teresa Sectional. They had the talent to place in the top 10. This year, the same expectations of making it to state exist. Nick Dobbs is playing football and running this fall again.
“We had a good summer of training and our numbers are up from last season,” said Gassmann. “We have several decent freshmen runners on the team, as well as several first-time upper classmen that are running. There are several holes to fill, but hopefully will have freshmen or first year runners that will fill those spots.”
2011 Finish – 15th 2A Belvidere Sectional
Coach – Chris Setzler
Top Returnees – Kyle Stelmasek SR, Mitch Guziak JR, Jake Grimes SO, Scott Sampel JR, Wylie Swanson SO, Jack Packlington SO, David Crowe SO, Drew Talbot SR, Zach Molzhan SO, James Cheeseman SO., Matt Stelmasek FR.
Notes – This could be a team that is a year from making it to state according to Coach Chris Setzler, but if this young team develops quickly, they may need to book reservations to Peoria. Kyle Stelmasek looks to be the lead runner for this squad in its first year of 1A. “We will be competitive this year at the regional and sectional but I see us as a year or two out from qualifying for the state meet as a team,” said Setzler.
24. Niles Northridge Prep
2011 Finish – 23rd 1A State Meet
Coach – John Kestler
Top Returnees – Liam Mahoney JR (95, 16:29), David Lachuga JR (174, 17:47), Dylan Haig SO (176, 17:51), Patrick Lechner SR (180, 17:54), Augusto Estrada SR (187, 18:03), Alec Brennan SO, Michael Gigante SR.
Notes – A team that could advance to state. 5 runners return from last year’s state team led by Junior Liam Maloney. This team could place in the top 20 at state if they can get their split under 70 seconds for 5 runners.
2011 Finish – 17th 1A State Meet
Coach – Adam Depew
Top Returnees – Grant Nykaza SR (2, 14:37), Austin King SR (189, 18:04), Garret Toohey SO (195, 18:16), Patrick Barton SO (203, 18:53), Mitch Darabaris SO, Nathan Swanson FR, Mike Pignatiello SO.
Notes – This is a team that could make it back to the state meet despite the fact they lost two of their top 3 runners. Fortunately for new coach Adam Depew, the returnee is Grant Nykaza, who will be the runner to watch in 1A this fall. They key for this team to return to state is see how the pack develops. They will need to be close together from 2-5, but they cannot have a forever gap between Nykaza and the rest of the team. “The overall goal for the team is a return to the IL state meet,” said Depew. “I have been pleased with how well the boys have been working together, and I am confident in their ability to be in the upper echelon.”