Boys cross country: Sectional Saturday should be competitive
It won't be Detweiller Park in Peoria, but when the boys cross country sectionals step off on Saturday, runners will still be seeking a sense of accomplishment.
The season was nearly canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then teams were able to race under strict guidelines with just regionals for the postseason. The IHSA then extended the season by one week, adding sectionals to the mix and giving teams statewide something a bit greater to aim for.
Expect longer meets than regionals since there are 15 teams and 15 extra runners at each sectional. That should mean five flights with the top runners going in the first two flights.
At the Class 3A Hoffman Estates sectional, you'll need to find a spot along the outfield wall of the baseball field so you can get a clear vision of the final sprint in this race. It was epic last week at the Hoffman Estates regional last week and could be again on Saturday.
The regional individual title was decided by one-one hundredths of a second with Evanston's Essay Tolossa (15:24.55) holding off Rolling Meadows' Stephen Barretto (15:24.56). Now add in Lake Zurich's Jacob Myers (15:21.92), New Trier's Nick Falk (15;22.99), Warren's Luke Wiley (15:26.31) and Lake Zurich's Jack Gilboy (15:29.81) and get the camera ready for a possible photo finish.
The team title is equally up for grabs. Regional winners Libertyville, New Trier and Prospect will face tough challenges from Barrington, Warren and Lake Zurich.
•At Lyons, the Lake Park regional results hold the key to determining the favorites.
Defending Class 3A state champion St. Charles East won that regional and has the only three sub 15-minute runners in the sectional. The Saints were led by Micah Wilson (14:42.5), Luke Schildmeyer (14:53.9) and Zack Loomis (14:54.0).
Maine South, Jacobs, York, Wheaton Warrenville South and Lyons will be right behind.
Maine South's Matt Coyle (15:09.0), St. Charles North's Noah Eng (15:14.5), Jacobs' Andrew Doetsch, Glenbard West's Pierce Cousins, York's Mickey Vreeland and Ethan Summer, Wheaton South's Michael Atkins, Batavia's Ryan Mansour and Lyons' Owen Hays will also be in contention.
Team depth as the battle for fourth and fifth runners will be the key in deciding a sectional team champion. Jacobs could be right in the hunt.
•At Whitney Young, they will be running like gazelles which should be perfect since this course is right by the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Downers Grove South's Tim Neumann (14:50.27) and Hinsdale Central's Daniel Watcke (14:54.84), who were 1-2 at the Marist regional last week, will renew their rivalry here. Neuqua Valley's Nicolas Dovalovsky (15:02.0), who was the regional champ at Oswego, along with Naperville Central's Arthur Graham (15:09.8), Naperville North's Julian Head (15:22.1) and Neuqua's Aidan Stone (15:27.3) will also contend.
They will all get a nice challenge from the Chicago Public League's top runners. Jones' Aaron Hou (15:25.67) and Andy Niser (15:31.63) are just two of the runners that were sub-16 minutes in the Whitney Young regional.
Downers Grove South looks to be the favorite with Hinsdale Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley, Naperville Central and Jones also in contention.
•In Class 2A, the Chicago Latin sectional will be held in Lincoln Park. St. Viator, which had not competed for two weeks due to a COVID outbreak at the school, came back and won the Mather regional. The Lions were led by Michael Schumacher (15:29.8), who posted the fastest time of the three regionals. He will be joined by Connor Flynn, Nathan Kochera and Lucas Doland.
Hinsdale South's Julian Watson (16:00.2) was also a regional winner.
Benet, which won the St. Francis regional, figures to be the team to beat here. The Redwings are led by Niklas Anderson, Dominic Ullmer, Ryan Amidei, Emmett Tully and Jack Robinson.
St. Viator, Brother Rice and St. Francis could also contend.
•At Lakes, the team race appears to be wide open. Regional winners Crystal Lake Central, Kaneland and Grayslake Central will be challenged by Vernon Hills, Lakes, Burlington Central and Hampshire could all contend.
Grayslake Central's Bryan Vale, who was a regional winner along with Crystal Lake Central's Karson Hollander Hampshire's Isai Morales, Kaneland's Isaiah Dallal all could contend for the individual title. They will be chasing Marian Central Catholic's Peter Walsdorf, who had the top sectional time with 15:13.73.
•In Class 1A, at Harvest Christian the host Lions, who won their regional, look to repeat as sectional champs. They are coming off a decisive win at their regional where Matthew Olech (16:37.27) and Daniel Winkleman (16:43.35) were 1-2.
Aurora Central Catholic, Wheaton Academy and Montini also have top teams in the sectional.