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updated: 9/5/2013 5:07 PM

Boys cross country: Scouting the Fox Valley

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  • Bartlett's Dan Cotton. left, is one of the top returning cross country runners in the Fox Valley area this season.

       Bartlett's Dan Cotton. left, is one of the top returning cross country runners in the Fox Valley area this season.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Emilio Mancha is one of Elgin's top returning runners this season.

       Emilio Mancha is one of Elgin's top returning runners this season.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

Burlington Central

Coach: Vince Neil (11th season)

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2012 finish: 3rd place Big Northern

Top returning runners: Senior Thomas Osko, juniors Clay Musial, Kyle Neubauer

Outlook: Central advanced to the sectional last year and will be led this year by top returning runner Musial. "Clay had a strong summer of training and will run very well this season. He will be a solid front-runner for us and will place at most invites," said Neil. The coach noted pack running will be important for the Rockets. "Our pack was very strong last season but was just too far back from some of the top teams in the area," he said. "We plan to cut down on that gap this season and give our boys the best chance of advancing out of sectionals. We plan to work hard and improve week by week."

Bartlett

Coach: Ryan Korn

2012 finish: 4th place UEC Valley

Top returning runners: Seniors Dan Cotton, Anthony Peters, Alex Peters

Key newcomers: Senior Matt Hess

Outlook: Bartlett will feature a large senior group of runners. "Our seniors have experience from last year," said Korn. "Our Top 3 runners will give us a chance to compete for team titles at every meet. With the addition of Matt Hess and the big improvement of senior Matt Gray, we should have a better team than our seventh-place sectional finish last year. We'll need to have our No. 1 runner finish in the Top 5 places for most meets and as a team we'll need to shorten up our Top 5 split to under 30 seconds." Korn was pleased with how the team improved last year. "We got stronger every meet last year and finished with our best race of the season at sectionals," he said. "That is the same outcome we'll be aiming for this season. With the training plan we have in place and the experience of the guys returning, we expect o have a very successful season. This has the potential to be a good team. We have guys such as juniors Will McConville and David Johnson as well as some strong sophomores who will surprise some people by the end of the season." Cotton led the Hawks to the Elgin City Classic championship earlier this week by finishing first.

Cary-Grove

Coach: Layne Holter

2012 finish: 8th place Fox Valley

Top returning runners: Senior Griffin Dempsey, juniors Michael Saxon, John Cody, Tyler Stordahl, Joe Veal, Dylan Richards, sophomores Sang Seo, Cooper Langanis

Key newcomers: Freshmen Kyle Adams, Jack Adams, Tommy Williams, Alex Ratkovich

Outlook: Holter likes the teamwork he's seen thus far. "These guys are a team from the newest freshman to the most experienced senior," he said. "They support each other and believe in our team goals." Closing the team's splits is something the Trojans are hard at work on. "We need to close the gap between our top runners," said Holter. "To do that we must stay healthy and pack-run to a greater extent than we have the last few years. I am excited to watch this team continue to develop and take another positive step up in the Fox Valley Conference." Holter said Jacobs, Crystal Lake Central, McHenry and Huntley will be teams to keep an eye on in the FVC.

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Rich Eschman (21st season)

2012 finish: 4th place FVC

Top returning runners: Seniors David Lenzini, Drew Kopfman, Matt Lundine, Ryan Mathews

Key newcomers: Junior Justin Miller, sophomores Doug Cain, Tats Daniel, Tommy Melone, Timmy Seisennop, freshmen Alex Foydl, Miles Foydl

Outlook: Eschman said his team could have five freshmen or sophomores in the Top 7 this season. We're a young team," he said. Lenzini is a returning all-FVC runner. He finished ninth at the conference meet. Kopfman is poised for a big year. "Drew could be a surprise this year," said Eschman. "He had a great track season and a good summer of running." Eschman said Jacobs, Huntley and McHenry will be strong in the Valley and Crystal Lake Central in the Fox Division.

Dundee-Crown

Coach: Tyler Carlson (1st season)

2012 finish: 12th place FVC

Top returning runners: Seniors Andrew Cassiere, Colin Stiefer, juniors Alex Clark, Max Grzelak, Samuel Parreno, sophomores Joshua Wizgird, David Yonamine

Key newcomers: Junior Joseph Ayala, sophomore Logan Hayes

Outlook: Carlson takes over for longtime area coaching great Tom Smith. Carlson was an assistant last year. He ran at Oregon High School and at Augustana College. The new coach feels pack running will help D-C this season. "We don't have a front-runner, but we have a solid core that had a strong summer and have worked to push each other in practice," he said. "We have to keep our pack tight. If we can keep a strong pack with a low split, we have a chance to improve our conference finish." D-C has runners who have experienced success earlier in their high school careers. "The group of sophomores and juniors had some success on the frosh-soph level last year and are hoping to build toward a better finish as members of the varsity squad," said Carlson.

Elgin Maroons

Coach: John Devine

2012 finish: 4th place UEC River

Top returning runners: Senior Emilio Mancha, junior Logan Jostes, Richard Childs

Outlook: Jostes qualified for the sectional as a sophomore last year. Elgin graduated a number of talented runners from a year ago. "We graduated 13 seniors," said Devine. "This year's seniors are filling in the gaps, but there remains much to be done to be competitive in the area." Mancha and Childs are the team captains this year. "Emilio and Richard are great leaders that the team is responding well to," said Devine. "We have a fair number of newer runners whose potential is still being discovered. We lack experience and depth, but make up for it in determination, hard work and team brotherhood."

Harvest Christian Academy

Coach: Steven Bland

2012 finish: 2nd place Northeastern Athletic Conference

Top returning runners: Jacob Schott, John Vislisel

Key newcomers: Riley Steiner

Outlook: Harvest has its sights on a conference title. "Goal No. 1 is to win the conference championship," said Bland. "We would like to build on last year's success of qualifying for sectionals, however this year we feel we can send the team to state." Schott has shown steady progress. "Jacob Schott has stepped up and is ready to fill those shoes (left by the graduation of top runner Robert Doby)," said Bland. "Overall, our Top 5 runners appear to be much stronger than last year." Bland has been pleased with freshman Steiner's showing thus far. "His future looks very promising," he said.

Hampshire

Coach: Dennis Wozniak (6th season)

2012 finish: Team sectional qualifier

Top returning runners: Junior Jacob Serio

Outlook: Hampshire will field its largest team in school history. "Depth is a strength for us," said Wozniak. The team will look to gain experience as the season goes on. "We lack experience running in the state series," said Wozniak. Serio was the No. 4 runner from last year's team that qualified for the sectional. Wozniak said Crystal Lake Central and Grayslake Central are top-tier contenders in the FVC Valley.

Huntley

Coach: Matt Kaplan (6th season)

2012 finish: 5th place FVC

Top returning runners: Seniors Kyle Ward, Kyler Callanan, Jimmy Jestus, junior Elijah Green, sophomores Keagan Smith, Seth Conroy

Key newcomers: Sophomore Brendan O'Donnell, freshman Matt Kapolnek

Outlook: Smith is a returning state qualifier (finished 63rd last year), while Conroy earned all-regional honors (second-place finish). "We have a good core of runners returning from last year's Top 7," said Kaplan. "Keagan and Seth will be two leaders of the team. They gained a lot of experience last year, which will help us move forward this season. We have a lot of youth on the team. Matt Kapolnek and Brendan O'Donnell are huge additions to the team. Our seniors have done an excellent job thus far providing the leadership we need." Kaplan would like to see the team place in the Top 5 in conference. "Our team will approach the season one meet at a time," he said. "We look to learn from each meet and improve throughout the season. Hopefully we continue the success that we reached last year. If we can stay healthy, this could be a very successful season."

Jacobs

Coach: Kevin Christian

2012 finish: FVC Valley champions; 2nd overall FVC

Top returning runners: Seniors Matt Johnson, Zach Johnson, Jon Godinez, Josh Yelton, juniors Matt Golby, Sebastian Baran

Key newcomers: Senior Corey Albrecht, junior Alex Bognár, freshmen Garrett Brenizer, Jeremy Horn

Outlook: Jacobs returns four all-conference runners in Matt Johnson (6th), Golby (16th), Baran (18th) and Godinez (30th). Yelton is a returning all-county runner, while Zach Johnson was the JV champion last year with a time that would have earned him varsity all-conference honors. "We have depth," said Christian. "We have nine boys who can have a strong impact on the varsity and all are all-conference quality. We have no true No. 1 runner, but there are about five boys who would be a solid No. 2 runner on a good team. We have five runners who went 4:35 or faster in the mile." Albrecht is in his first year with the team after playing soccer for three years. "He is going to have an immediate impact and could be a No. 2 or No. 3 runner," said Christian, who noted Matt Johnson is looking like a "top of the conference-type runner." "If we can prove to be consistent, we have a great shot at the Fox Valley title and just as good a chance of making state," added Christian. "It's going to be all about consistency. When they are running well, they are one of the best around, if they aren't, they drop significantly."

Larkin

Coach: Eric Hill

2012 finish: 9th place UEC

Top returning runners: Seniors Alex O'Claire, Cameron Powers, Sergio Ramirez

Key newcomers: Seniors Ardley Garcia, Alejandro Nevarez, Luis Garcia, junior Will Wright, sophomore Sebastian Alvarado

Outlook: Leadership is a key strength for the Royals this season. "We have strong leaders on the varsity who lead by example," said Hill. "The younger athletes have a good idea of what it takes to run well and since we have a lot of new faces, our program will benefit." Hill noted the sophomore team has talent on it. "That bodes well for our future," he said. Developing a consistent lineup is something Hill is striving for. "We need to continue to train and put in the miles and have some athletes step up and fill in the gaps in our Top 7," said Hill. "Right now we have a lot of new seniors and juniors who are competing for those varsity spots. We are excited to get racing and can't wait to start setting some personal records. We want to qualify some athletes to the state meet and continue building on the success we've had."

St. Edward

Coach: Mike Olenek

Top returning runners: James Eisen, Zachary Reedy, Derek Lindhal

Key newcomers: Sophomore Billy Morice, freshman Trevor Odegaard

Outlook: While young, the Green Wave show potential. "Our new freshman Trevor is helping push the other runners for some good healthy competition," said Olenek. "We are working on developing a more competitive spirit and pushing each other to personal bests. I look forward to working with the team and training a little harder than we have in the past. The kids seem very enthused about this and we all are having a lot more fun."

Streamwood

Coach: Weert Goldenstein (9th season)

2012 finish: 7th place UEC River

Top returning runners: Seniors Will Troman, Vasu Patel, Jose Resendiz, Collin Crumlett

Key newcomers: Junior Miles Juarez, sophomore Jacob McGlone

Outlook: Goldenstein was thrilled with the turnout to the program's summer camp. "That has resulted in a considerable increase in our team size compared to last year," he said. "We have a lot of new guys on the team who could step up." Goldenstein would like to see the team improve its position in the conference and have some success in the postseason. "Our main goal is to have fun and continually get better throughout the season," he said. "One of our main strengths this year is our team size. Right now we have 37 guys on the team, which will provide a much deeper well to draw from in terms of putting together a Top 7. One of our weaknesses is we have a lot of new guys who have very little cross-country experience. Once they get a few races under their belts, we should have a fairly strong team."

South Elgin

Coach: Kari Turcan (9th season)

Top returning runners: Seniors Matt Stover, Jose Gonzalez, Matt McClure, juniors Brandon VanBogaert, Max Keough

Key newcomers: Senior John Sanner

Outlook: Stover and McClure are both returning sectional qualifiers on a senior-dominated team, while Danner transferred from St. Edward. "We are hoping to qualify the team for the sectional and not individuals as we did last year," said Turcan, who noted three of the team's top runners are coming off summer injuries and another runner who was on the regional team last year did not come out for the team this year.

Westminster Christian

Coach: Adriana Armstrong

Top returning runners: Junior Habacuc Orozco, sophomore Griffin Guge

Key newcomers: Junior Wyatt Johnson, freshmen Tom Danner, Ben Bertsche

Outlook: Armstrong takes over the Warriors' cross-country program and is excited about what lies ahead. "We're building on the foundation of last year's team," she said. "The team has doubled in size and our strength is our willingness to work hard in practice, pursue camaraderie and to demonstrate leadership. All returning team members have improved their running and show great potential for this season's competitions. New team members also are demonstrating success for the upcoming races. One area of weakness will be the lack of experience, but this issue will resolve itself as the season progresses."

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