Boys cross country: Scouting Lake County
NORTH SUBURBAN CONFERENCELake ZurichCoach: J.B. Hanson (11th season)
Last year's record: fifth in Class 3A, sectional champions, regional champions, NSC champions
Top graduated seniors: Nate Quinn, Matt Milner, Arthur Garcia (CLC)
Top returning competitors: seniors Matt Pereira (fifth in Class 3A, first in NSC), Brian Griffith (seventh in Class 3A, second in NSC), Kyle Griffith (21st in Class 3A, fourth in NSC); junior Patrick Burns (73rd in Class 3A, seventh in NSC), Eric Metzger (181st in Class 3A, 20th in NSC)
Key newcomers: seniors Jeff Glatz, Jack Gelinas, Brian McNair; juniors Jacob Bieniek, Jake Baffa, Sean Ginn, Kyle Gilboy, Kevin Auster, Patrick True
Outlook: With three all-state seniors back and ready to lead their pack, expectations are as high as ever for the Bears as they enter what they hope proves to be a historic season for the perennially powerful Lake Zurich cross country program. Getting 100 percent healthy and staying healthy could hold the key to success. No. 4-runner Burns' really picking up his pace this season gives the Bears' pack running a huge shot in the arm to go along with their dynamic top trio from a year ago. Metzger adds a key fifth runner with state-meet experience, but Lake Zurich will need some newcomers to produce when the chips are down if it hopes to bring home one of the coveted top-three trophies from the 71st Annual IHSA state meet Nov. 5 in Peoria. The Bears have been completely dominant in the NSC with seven titles in the past eight years, and that trend is expected to continue this fall.
LibertyvilleCoach: Stuart Mendelsohn (second season)
Last year's record: fifth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Will Johnson, Gabe Alesna
Top returning competitors: seniors Stephen Richardson (15th in NSC), Joe Gasick (33rd in NSC), Addison Whitney, Alex Hecksher-Gomes; juniors Alex Tam (eighth in NSC), Albert Su (44th in NSC), Colin Beattie, Nate Sweitzer; sophomore Max Sauers
Key newcomers: junior Brendan Gallagher; sophomore Reed Delude; freshmen Will Gordon, Emmet Burke, Bennett Scheunemann
Outlook: After a solid fifth-place showing at the NSC meet last year, the Wildcats are hoping to improve individually and as a team with their eyes on qualifying for the sectional and state meets. Libertyville should have a strong front duo to rely on with Tam and Richardson already proving that they are battle-tested runners when the big meets roll around. The NSC cross country field will be much-less crowded this field with only eight teams running as opposed to 14 squads before the new alignment took place this fall.
MundeleinCoach: Kurt Rutz (fourth season)
Last year's record: fourth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Uly Hagedorn, Mitchell Alberts, Joe Clow
Top returning competitors: senior Ben Krauss; juniors Kaleb Carlson, Carl Schoenfield; sophomores Michael Parduhn (14th in NSC), Robert St. Clair (30th in NSC), Alan Salgado (36th in NSC), Dario Carillo (41st in NSC)
Key newcomers: sophomore Aidan Afonso; freshmen Tyler Green, Dillon Blake
Outlook: With four freshmen in their top six runners, the Mustangs were a big surprise in taking fourth place in the always powerful NSC meet last fall. Now those four sophomores will take on an even bigger role with Parduhn and St. Clair coming off of all-conference finishes in 2015. Coach Rutz said his team has had a really good summer with most of his top runners putting in more miles than they had in any other off-season.
StevensonCoach: Scott Sommers (ninth season)
Last year's record: third in NSC, sixth in Class 3A sectionals
Top graduated seniors: Jared Borowsky (state qualifier), Adam Butler
Top returning competitors: seniors Paul Udoni (24th in NSC), Caleb Oh, Matt Klonowski; juniors Nikita Smyrnov (10th in NSC), Brett Lucas (12th in NSC), Jacob Sparreo (23rd in NSC)
Key newcomers: seniors Adam Kody, Zach Sprague; junior Tim Green
Outlook: The Patriots did lose a state qualifier in Borowsky to graduation, but they have five all-conference performers back and ready to be very competitive again in the NSC. Coach Sommers knows that it will be extremely difficult to upset perennial power Lake Zurich for the NSC championship, but if Stevenson stays healthy he believes his squad can definitely finish in the top two or three after only missing the state meet by nine points last fall.
WarrenCoach: Bill Dawson (35th season)
Last year's record: second in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Dustin Macuiba (eighth in Class 3A, Notre Dame) Brady Roegner (Carthage College), Alex Delgado (Wake Forest), Dylan Morris
Top returning competitors: seniors Julian Ruiz (13th in NSC), Nathan Oommen (25th in NSC), Jason Carrington, Jacob Anderson, Raees Ahmad, Ray Sorge-Young, Andrew Miller
Key newcomers: junior Eric Salgado; sophomore Dan Whalen; freshman Hunter Subry
Outlook: It will be impossible for the Blue Devils to replace an elite runner like the reliable Macuiba has been at the front of their pack for the past few seasons. But with two all-conference runners in Ruiz and Oommen back, Warren is looking forward to another very promising season as coach Dawson embarks on his 35th season at the helm. Dawson pointed to Lake Zurich, Stevenson, and Mundelein among the top teams to watch in the NSC this fall.
NORTHERN LAKE COUNTYAntiochCoach: Chris Bailey (eighth season)
Last year's record: 12th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Tyler Glassman (CLC)
Top returning competitors: seniors Pat Schoenfelder (51st in NSC), Kevin Vettese; juniors Max Barton, Alex Besson, Joe Sculuca
Key newcomers: freshmen Charlie Smith, Josh Linck
Outlook: Smith and Linck should contribute right away to the Sequoits' top-five pack while the duo of Schoenfelder and Vettese will provide great senior leadership. The junior trio of Barton, Besson, and Sculuca will give Antioch some great depth to fall back on against its new-conference competition.
GrantCoach: Jeff Durlak (10th season)
Last year's record: 10th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Matt Kling, Jordan Festin
Top returning competitors: seniors John Schmidt (27th in NSC), Cody Zajac (46th in NSC), Omid Navidzadeh; junior Nathan Ehrenhofer; sophomore Donald Cardy
Key newcomers: freshman Justin Splitt
Outlook: The Bulldogs are looking for a bounce back year as they are returning four of their top five runners from last season. Schmidt fought his way through some early-season injuries to earn all-conference honors in 2015, and he will be joined by experienced varsity runners in Zajac, Navidzadeh, and Ehrenhofer this fall.
Grayslake CentralCoach: Jimmy Centella (eighth season)
Last year's record: Class 2A state champions, sectional champions, regional champions, FVC champions
Top graduated seniors: John Girmscheid (23rd in Class 2A), Jack Battaglia (26th in Class 2A), Danny Vincent, Alden Aaberg
Top returning competitors: seniors Jack Aho (Class 2A state champion, sectional champ, regional champ, FVC champ), Matt Aho (seventh in Class 2A), Ben Steinbeck, Noah Boelens; juniors Eli Minsky (25th in Class 2A), Luke Reblin; sophomore Matt Droessler
Key newcomers: senior Mario Giannini; freshman Ethan Boelens
Outlook: The Rams' program took the state by storm last season by absolutely rolling to the Class 2A crown by a whopping 54-121 margin over runner-up Mahomet-Seymour. With a basically unbeatable Jack Aho returning to lead Grayslake Central's pack along with brother Matt Aho and fellow all-stater Minsky, the Rams could be well on their way to back-to-back state championships when they head downstate in early November. Reblin and Steinbeck are expected to round out the Rams' formidable top-five pack as Central hopes to reach the top of the mountain again in 2016.
Grayslake NorthCoach: Brandon Boyd (12th season)
Last year's record: fifth in regional (sectional qualifiers), 13th in FVC, sixth in Fox Division
Top graduated seniors: Dylan Ponomar, Brandon Keaskowski
Top returning competitors: seniors Liam O'Connell, Cameron Detweiler, John Mutter, A.J. Amadio; juniors Blake Barecca, Andrew Keaskowski
Key newcomers: sophomore Marcus Conceicao
Outlook: Things are looking pretty promising for the Knights heading into the new campaign as they have four of their top five runners back from last season's Class 2A sectional qualifying team. O'Connell was a consistent No. 1-runner for Grayslake North last fall, and he should be prepared to take that role to another level in 2016.
LakesCoach: Travis Shepherd (third season)
Last year's record: eighth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Jacob Hubbard (Elmhurst College), Jeff Meverden (CLC), Brandon Thiel, Matt Leyva, Robert Kuhlmann (Missouri)
Top returning competitors: senior Jeremy Wallace (16th in NSC); juniors Kael Moran (35th in NSC), Wil Blanchard; sophomores Ethan Schommer, Jack Erwin, Charlie Halberg, Owen Wenberg
Key newcomers: freshmen R.J. Migas, Phillip Lind
Outlook: The Eagles lost five of their top seven runners to graduation, but they do have their top two runners returning in all-conference performer Wallace and Moran. Coach Shepherd is expecting his squad to go through some growing pains early in the season. But Lakes has the potential to put together a solid pack with Moran and Blanchard coming off of strong track seasons last spring.
Round LakeCoach: Kevin Brady (12th season)
Last year's record: 11th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Carlos Rosas, Emmanuel Sanchez, Vidal Ortega, Oscar Arteaga
Top returning competitors: seniors Brian Ortega, Moises Acosta; juniors Marco Hernandez, Sam Ruiz, Daniel Lopez, Nathan Etherington
Key newcomers: junior Joseph Tellez; sophomores Marco Barcenas, Justin Vega
Outlook: With so many losses to graduation in the past two years, the Panthers' numbers will be a little bit down at the varsity level this season. Round Lake does have two of its top four runners back from 2015, but it will have to put together a great pack in order to be competitive in the new NLCC.
WaucondaCoach: Jeff Helberg (second season)
Last year's record: 13th in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Collin McFadden, James Barten
Top returning competitors: juniors Adam Fox, Jared DeWyze, Mike Messacar; sophomores Marcus Keller, Nick Brunn
Key newcomers: junior Sam Razyman; sophomores Tony Myers, Hunter Thompson, Eli Wurster
Outlook: With five of their top seven scoring runners returning from last year, the Bulldogs are looking to make some improvements as they enter their new conference in 2016. Fox is looking like a serious contender to reach sectionals after coming off an injury while a lack of experience at the varsity level could be a major obstacle for Wauconda to overcome.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTHVernon HillsCoach: Mark Whitney (fifth season)
Last year's record: third in regionals, sectional qualifiers, sixth in NSC
Top graduated seniors: Trevor Moyers, Caleb Ju, Alex Geier
Top returning competitors: seniors Shane Williamson (eighth in Class 2A, fifth in NSC), Tim Krashevsky, Zak Baumann (42nd in NSC), Nick Mohrdieck; juniors Teddy Chen (47th in NSC), Nikolay Kravtsev, Evan Webber, Jace White; sophomores Cameron Overbeck, Matt Huse, Antoni Okinczyc
Key newcomers: sophomores Evan Peepo, Sean Kim
Outlook: The Cougars have a less experienced varsity team than they have had in recent years, but they have an elite runner in Williamson to lead their pack along with another high-placing, front-runner expected in Krashevsky. Vernon Hills should also have a strong No. 3 through No. 5 pack of runners, but there will not be much depth at the back of its pack with five to six individuals competing for the last two spots. This will be a season of transition for the Cougars as they leave the familiar North Suburban Prairie Division to move to the CSL North.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLICCarmel CatholicCoach: Jim Halford (30th season)
Last year's record: fourth in ESCC, sectional qualifiers
Top graduated seniors: Cameron Dean, Michael Cusack, Horacio Lopez, John Caffarelli
Top returning competitors: seniors Steve Lacke, Zach Schneider; juniors Jack Teehan, Brandan Gayton, Scott Haseman, Alex Slack, David Hoffman; sophomore Tino Alivia
Key newcomer: sophomore Jack Bartz
Outlook: The Corsairs' goal this season will be to finish in the top three of the always competitive ESCC and push for a top 10 finish in the rugged Class 2A sectional field. Lacke should provide great senior leadership after being Carmel's No. 1 runner for the entire 2015 campaign.