West Aurora ready for best season in decades
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West Aurora has the type of boys cross country team this fall that comes around once every 30 years.
The Blackhawks have three seniors at the top of their lineup - Steve Loran, Matt Muth and Ryan Bartell - who not only lead the way into the chute but are letting the younger runners know how things are going to be done.
That combination promises to produce big things, and it started with a convincing first, second, fifth, eighth, ninth and 10th place finish from their top six runners Saturday at the Aurora City Meet at Marmion.
West Aurora won with 25 points, its second straight City title, easily running away from second-place Marmion's 57.
"This team is shaping up to be the best in the last 30 years of West High's history," West Aurora coach Matt Sinnott said. "They are at a higher level than this program has ever been.
"The top three seniors, this is a big year for them. The guys filling in after them are all very fast and very young. They (the seniors) are all great leaders and have set a great example."
As is his style, Logan sprinted to an early lead and never looked back. He won in 15:58 with last year's City champ Muth running 16:11 for second.
"Steve needs to be pushing the pace out front," Sinnott said. "He did exactly what he needed to do. Steve has a very strong gear. He's one of the more consistent runners I've ever seen."
After Bartell in fifth, Graham Isaacson, Omar Gomez and Josh Robinson finished eighth through 10th for the Blackhawks. Robinson ran down Marmion's Eddy Grahovec in his final step to edge him by .3 seconds.
While Sinnott knows it is early, it's also hard for him not to be excited with what he has seen.
"We had not seen where they stood in 3 miles yet so this is a really good indicator of their ability," Sinnott said. "The boys ran as they have been running in practice and that's tough and as a team."
Marmion coach Dan Billish saw both good and bad in the Cadets' finish, which was led by Bennett Marsh in fourth.
"We weren't as organized today as I would have liked us to have been," Billish said. "I was hoping for more leadership from our varsity guys."
Part of the problem is Marmion is missing two of its top three runners. Ben Kanute and Nolan Dickson are both competing in an international trialthon and won't rejoin the Cadets' lineup until the conference race, though they will be training with the team before that.
"It creates a disconnect when it comes to racing on who is going to take initiative and take control of the team," Billish said. "I was a little frustrated on that side. There were guys that performed real well today and there were guys that learned an inconsistent summer is not going to pay off."
Junior Will Graft's 13th-place run was one of the highlights for Billish.
"Will has come on quite a bit," Billish said. "It's just a slew of guys right now and if you ask me your top seven I couldn't tell you. We have depth but we have a lot of question marks that need to be answered."
David Groeber finished third to lead Waubonsie Valley. The Warriors took fourth, one spot behind Aurora Central. Matt Meyers paced the Chargers in seventh followed by Alex Duncan (14th), Adrian Alviar (18th) and Jimmy Spencer (20th) in the top 20.
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