Boys cross country conference meets
Where: Busse Woods (Conant Course)
When: 10:30 a.m.
Last year's team champ: Palatine
Last year's individual champ: Erik Peterson, Barrington.
What to know: Palatine, Barrington, Prospect, and Hersey all have the potential to finish in the top 10 in Class 3A. The race will be run at Busse Woods, but Conant will run it home course. A chance of rain will add to the fun.
Boys teams to watch (rankings by Illinois Cross Country Coaches Poll): No. 5 Palatine, No. 6 Barrington, No. 7 Prospect, No. 13 Hersey, Fremd.
Boys individuals to watch: Quentin Shaffer (Sr., Prospect), Michael Leet (Sr., Prospect), Max Daleiden (Jr., Prospect), Christian Zambrano (Sr., Palatine), Graham Brown (Soph., Palatine), Ryan Burgoon (Sr., Barrington), Mike Rappleye (Sr., Barrington), Harry Winter (Jr., Fremd), Evan Prizy (Sr., Schaumburg), Juan Barajas (Sr., Schaumburg), Joe Sulentic (Sr., Conant), Zach Dale (Soph., Conant), Billy Thomas (Jr., Hoffman Estates), Andy Philipose (Jr., Hersey), David Rodriguez (Soph., Hersey), Steve Salvano (Jr., Buffalo Grove).
Outlook: Palatine has won nine consecutive MSL titles and once again fields an excellent squad. The defending state champions may not be quite as potent as last year, but senior Zach Stella and senior Brian Smith have joined Zambrano and Brown to form a solid core. Palatine had an off day at its own invitational in late September, but the Pirates rebounded by securing its 11th straight MSL West title. Despite its recent run, the Pirates will not enter the meet overconfident. "We're taking it serious," said Palatine coach Chris Quick, "We're going to run with urgency." Barrington is hoping to match that urgency. The Broncos finished two spots ahead of the Pirates at the Palatine Invite, but may be missing No. 3 runner Kerry Frank on Saturday. The senior is recovering from stress fracture, but is hoping to return. Sophomores Konrad Eiring and Jake Herb have solidified a dangerous Broncos pack. "I think our guys learned they can run with anybody," said Barrington coach Ty Gorman of the Broncos' fourth-place finish at the Palatine Invite. Prospect will also be in the chase. Shaffer leads the Knights and will be a favorite to win the individual title. The senior ran a 14:28 on the state course in late September and then broke Prospect's home course record held by Hersey Kevin Havel (14:59) by hitting 14:51. Shaffer is definitely on the short list for state contenders in Class 3A. Prospect will be looking to tighten its 2-through-5 pack. "Quentin has to set the tone," said Prospect coach Mike Stokes, "and then we have to go out and follow our plan, and do what we do." Hersey will also be in the mix. The Huskies have kept a low profile since mid-September, but showed their potential by defeating Prospect in a high stakes dual meet en route to its first MSL East title since 2007. Seniors Robert Somary, Ryan Kearns and Jack O'Neil will look to narrow the gap with the Huskies' front runners. "It's going to be a four-team race," said Hersey coach Jay Renaud, "and you never know what will happen. We just have to run our best." Shaffer will set the pace, but Prizy, who has two consecutive top-10 conference finishes and Burgoon, the top returning runner from last year, will give chase. Brown, Rodriguez, and Winter will also add to what promises be a memorable race.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Where: Midlothian Meadows
When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday
Outlook: Defending champion Benet is once again the favorite, with Marist's Kyle Hauser looking to secure the individual title. Junior Nick Brey and senior Kevin Schreiber will pace St. Viator, last year the Lions finished second.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN LEAGEU MEET
Where: Waukegan Sports Park
When: 12:30 p.m.
Outlook: Senior Dominick Budzik and sophomore Alex Liston will pace Maine West in the North division race. No. 14.Highland Park is the North division favorite led by senior Jonah Hanig. No. 15 New Trier will be favorite in the South division.
WEST SUBURBAN GOLD CONFERENCE MEET
Where: Center Point Park, Northlake
When: 11:30 a.m.
Outlook: Senior Nick Avila and Rocco DiMatteo will lead Leyden at the WSG meet. Morton was 6-0 in dual meets this season, with Willowbrook (5-1) a step behind. The Eagles sit in the middle of the pack, but they are hoping to pull a surprise.
-- Michael Eaken