Buffalo Grove's boys cross country team had its share of adversity last year, so this year the Bison are looking for a smoother ride.
BG had no problems Tuesday in its Mid-Suburban League opener, a divisional crossover against Fremd. The Bison cruised to a 19-42 victory at Harper College.
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Last year Buffalo Grove had a coaching change in mid-season and lost its No. 1 runner, senior Steven Salvano, to an early season injury. Despite those setbacks, BG still took second at the Schaumburg sectional and completed the year by taking 13th in Class 3A.
Buffalo Grove returned 9 of its top 10 runners from last year's team -- including Kevin Salvano, who took 20th place in Class 3A. Quite naturally, the Bison are primed for a big season.
"They went through a lot of adversity last year, it was a tough year," said BG coach Zach Crandall, who stepped in as head coach mid-season last fall. "But they bounced back and finished the year pretty strong. This year they are really ready to finish the year where they can be."
Dyestat Illinois has BG ranked No. 3 in its preseason rankings. It follows that the Bison will be in the hunt for an MSL title.
Buffalo Grove showed it is ready for the challenge on Tuesday, placing eight runners in the top 10, with junior Kevin Salvano (16:11), senior Jake Wenzel (16:14) and senior Tripp Wallner (16:20) going 1-2-3.
"We're looking for a pretty high finish this year," said Salvano, whose team will be shooting for its first MSL East Division title and first overall MSL title. "We had a good summer of training and that feeds right into the season."
Junior Tom Cleary (16:38) and junior Evan Schmidt (16:41) finished sixth and seventh to complete the Bison scoring, with junior Jake Lenard (16:42), senior Eli Hinkle (16:44), and senior Montana Nimerfroh (16:55) taking 8-9-10.
"We rely on each other," said Wenzel. "So if you pull one piece out, we can have someone else step up."
Fremd lost five of its top seven runners to graduation, including Harry Winter, its No. one runner from last season. But Vikings coach Darius Sanchez still has some pieces to work with, including sophomore Danny Peterson (16:23) and junior Joe Smaga (16:31), who finished 4-5 against BG.
Peterson challenged for a top three spot mid-way through the race before taking fourth.
"He has been looking good and he has been progressing," Sanchez said of Peterson. "We have work to do, but I was still impressed with the kids' performance today."