Boys cross country: Scouting the MSL meet
Where: Salk Park, Rolling Meadows
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Host: Rolling Meadows
Last year's team champion: Hersey
Last year's individual champion: Brian Leonard (Palatine)
MSL West Division champion: Palatine
MSL East Division champion: Hersey
What to know: The Mid Suburban League meet returns to the banks of the Salk Creek for the first time since 1993. Rolling Meadow hosted the meet in 2005 but ran at Busse Woods that year. The course will offer some long straightaways including the finish, but the course will have a few spots where the passing lanes will be tight. Defending MSL champion Hersey is the favorite and will be seeking its fourth title in five years. Prospect, Palatine, and Barrington will form the chase pack. Barrington senior Nick Laning finished second in the MSL last season and leads the list of contenders for the individual title.
Individuals to watch: Buffalo Grove: Zach Gazda (sr.), Mitchell Guittar (sr.), Alberto Rivera (so.); Elk Grove: Michael Johson (so.), Hersey: Josh Methner (so.), Max Svienty (so.), Ryan Theisen (sr.), Nate Mayo (sr.), Ryan Buch (jr.); Prospect: Jack Terry (sr.), Andrew Reimman (jr.), Nate Cozine (sr.), Erik Snell (so.); Rolling Meadows: Eddie Lennon (jr.); Wheeling: Tyler Polak (jr.), Barrington: Nick Laning (sr.), Aiden King (sr.), Paddy Furlong (so.), Greg Van Hollen (jr.); Conant: Chris Floyd (sr.); Fremd: Ed Worthem (sr.), Matt Wallace (sr.), Charlie O'Brien (jr.); Hoffman Estates: Shreeker Patel (sr.); Palatine: Richard Jacobo (so.), Evan Eckels (sr.), Art Oshinson (sr.), Joe Ahlgrim (jr.); Schaumburg: Karston Zielinski (sr.), Mike Baronowski (sr.).
Outlook: Hersey has run to three MSL titles in four years, and the Huskies would like to make it fourth out of five on Saturday. First-year coach Kevin Young replaced Jay Renaud, who returned to Prospect and is currently the head track coach and assists Mike Stokes in directing the cross country squad. The Huskies have not missed a beat during the transition. Hersey is tied for fifth in Illinois Cross Country Coaches state poll from Oct. 4. Hersey has offered glimpses of its potential throughout the season, including a third-place finish at the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational in mid-September. The Huskies then came back the following Tuesday to win a key dual meet against Prospect to cement an East Division title. Methner paces the attack, and he will certainly be up front on Saturday. Theisen, Mayo and Buch provide a solid second wave. Svienty is the wild card. The sophomore did not run last Saturday at Wheeling but has the talent to give the Huskies' lineup a big jolt. The Huskies are deep and will be tough to beat on Saturday. "They know the target is on their back, but they are hungry for more," said Young. "They are going in business-like. We just want to control the controllables." Prospect is one team with a lineup that could pressure the Huskies. Terry has done a super job in leading the Knights, with Reimann and Cozine offering solid support. The key for the Knights will be to break the Huskies' second wave. Jacobo and Eckels gives Palatine a nice 1-2 punch up front. The Pirates, who earned the MSL West Division title, will need their second wave to close the gap. Barrington has also done a nice job of making progress. Laning will set the tone, but the Broncos' pack must narrow the gap on its leader. Fremd has definitely made improvements since the beginning of the season, with Worthem and Wallace setting the tone. Individually, Laning is the one to watch. The senior entered the season as the favorite and not too much has changed entering the postseason. Laning opened the season by running to the Lake County Invitational title, and he also had a strong run in finishing fourth at both the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational and Palatine Invitational. "He has been amazingly consistent, each year he has gotten better and better," said Barrington coach Tom Root of his senior star. Methner could offer a challenge. The Hersey sophomore has shown plenty of promise in a smaller sample, including a third-place finish at the Wheeling Invitational last Saturday, and he definitely has the wheels to put some pressure on Laning. Worthem, Wallace, Jacobo, Eckels, Terry, and Floyd will also be in the hunt in what promises to be a fun race.
CSL North: Maine West will be competing on Saturday at the Central Suburban League meet hosted by Vernon Hills. The boys' race starts at 10 a.m. Senior Derek Pace, sophomore Ray Ure and senior Donny Johnson will lead the effort for the Warriors. Highland Park is the defending CSL North champion.
ESCC: St. Viator will be hosting the East Suburban Catholic Conference meet on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Melas Park in Arlington Heights. Sophomore Patric Natindim will lead the way for the host team; Benet is the defending ESCC champion.
WSC Gold: Leyden will be hosting the West Suburban Gold meet on Saturday at Willowbrook High School. The boys race will begin at 11:50 a.m. Junior Patrick Sarad will lead the way for the Eagles. Downers Grove South is the defending Gold champion.
-- Michael Eaken