Scouting DuPage County boys cross country

  • Wheaton Warrenville South's Billy Hauenstein and Sean Maison cross the finish line in 3rd and 2nd place during DuPage Valley Conference boys cross country meet at St. James Farm forest preserve on October 16, 2017.

    Wheaton Warrenville South's Billy Hauenstein and Sean Maison cross the finish line in 3rd and 2nd place during DuPage Valley Conference boys cross country meet at St. James Farm forest preserve on October 16, 2017. Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Top teams: Wheaton Warrenville South, Glenbard West, Neuqua Valley, Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Naperville Central, York, Waubonsie Valley, Wheaton North.

Top athletes: Addison Trail: Randy Almarales, sr., Cole Greaves, soph., Julian Lane, jr., Sal Lopez, sr., Dylan Moran, soph., Jonathan Ramos, jr.; Benet: Sean Donnelly, soph., Ben Grundman, jr., Jonas Jodwalis, jr., Connor O'Keefe, sr., Jack Robinson, soph.; Downers Grove North: Michael Conkright, sr., Matt Moravec, sr., Trevor Murphy, sr., Jack Roberts, sr.; Downers Grove South: John Heneghan, jr., John Norris, jr., Eddie Siuda, sr., James Weigel, sr.; Fenton: Sam Elizondo, jr., Nathan Exconde, sr., Chris Zavala, sr.; Glenbard East: Andrew Bylsma, jr., Aidan Ihms, jr., Nigel Neibel, jr., Alec Palmeri, fr.; Glenbard North: Matt Salucha, sr., Marat Schatz, sr., Omar Solorio, sr., Ryan Treanor, jr.; Glenbard South: Mike Eloubary, jr., Wesley Jedlicka, sr., Austin McClure, jr., Edwin Svoboda, jr.; Glenbard West: Rory Cavan, sr., William Hohe, soph., Colin Hoss, soph., Stephen Moody, sr., Will O'Brien, sr., Ian Repking, sr.; Hinsdale Central: Keegan Caveney, sr., Alec Hill, sr., Matt Kusak, sr., Tiyush Mekla, soph.; Hinsdale South: Nick Beronio, jr., Antonio Garcia, sr., Tim Rudolph, sr., Julian Watson, soph.; IC Catholic Prep: Liam Dacre, soph., Dominic Gaudio, jr., Zach Jordan, jr., Fabian Perez, sr.; Lake Park: Jack Murphy, jr.; Lisle: Joe Chan, sr., Evan Mueller, soph., Abe Orosco-Munoz, soph., Brandan White, jr.; Metea Valley: Justin Fichte, sr., Ben Malloy, sr., Ryan Malloy, sr., Michael Varzino, sr.; Montini: Liam Casey, sr., Jayden Gertsen, sr., Nathan Hoeflich, sr., Ian Kwit, sr.; Naperville Central: Aaron Benson, sr., Tyler Evans, sr., Seth Klein-Collins, sr., Jack McCowin, sr., Thomas Shilgalis, sr.; Naperville North: Jake Allen, jr., McLean Griffin, jr., Aidan Handa, sr., Tommy Paltzer, soph., Nicholas Trattner, sr.; Neuqua Valley: Nick Dreschler, sr., Matt Jett, sr., Chris Keely, sr., Michael Madiol, sr., Michael O'Connor, sr.; St. Francis: Jon Aquino, sr., Sam King, soph., Luke Orwig, soph., Dan Weizeorick, jr., Josh Winslow, jr.; Timothy Christian: Noah Bezanson, jr., Clint Fincher, sr., Caleb Mitchell, jr., Alex Oldenburger, sr.; Waubonsie Valley: Jackson Bakula, jr., Alex Barenbrugge, sr., Wes Beitler, jr., John Caron, sr., Eryk Stewart, sr.; West Chicago: Kellen Klapatch, sr., Rickson Naway, sr., Peter Osielski, jr., Kamel Patel, sr.; Wheaton Academy: Nate Bierly, jr., Owen Eldersveld, jr., Lane Froese, sr., Blake Wittstock, soph.; Wheaton North: Finn Askin, sr., Joseph Parker, jr., Will Roth, soph., Mauricio Xochitecatl, jr., Connor Zydek, sr.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Billy Hauenstein, jr., Jacob Kluckhorn, jr., Scott Maison, sr., Sean Maison, sr., David Zeller, jr.; Willowbrook: Matt Caron, sr., Brandon Heselton, jr., Gavin Hitzeman, sr., Tyler King, soph., Will Stout, sr.; York: Sam Ayers, soph., Colin Hill, soph., Ethan Kern, jr., Daniel Klysh, jr., Michael Moriarity, jr.

Scouting report: The preseason Class 3A boys cross country poll among coaches predicts a donnybrook among local programs. Wheaton Warrenville South, which earned its first trophy in program history last fall by finishing third, is the consensus top-ranked team in the state. Glenbard West, which began its season with a tiebreaker victory over Hersey at the Fenton Early Bird Invitational on Saturday, is touted as second to none behind returning all-state seniors Cavan and Moody.

Downers Grove North denied Neuqua Valley a magical season last fall by denying the Wildcats' defense of the team state crown with its first championship in program history. But Neuqua Valley rebounded with a vengeance by winning the Class 3A track and field state championship last May. There is, however, a tremendous void at Neuqua Valley as Zach Kinne, fourth in Peoria last fall and state runner-up at 3,200 meters in track, moved after the last school year to Pennsylvania.

The Class 3A Waubonsie Valley sectional also will be without the services of Josh Rodgers in late October because the reigning champion from Geneva also relocated over the summer. "It's going to impact the entire state," Glenbard West coach Kyle Nugent said of the absences of Kinne and Rodgers on an individual and perhaps team basis. But the Wildcats' notoriously deep program still has a core of returning seniors in snaring the third spot in the coaches' poll. "Wheaton Warrenville (South) is clearly the team to beat," Neuqua Valley coach Paul Vandersteen said. "(But) rankings don't matter that much. All that matters is what happens on November 3rd (the day of the state finals in Peoria). I have a lot of faith in my guys."

The two West Suburban Conference divisions are well-represented as usual. Last fall at Detweiller Park, site of the state meet, Downers North continued to shine with a state title. The league monopolized the fourth through seventh slots as Hinsdale Central, Lyons Twp., York and Glenbard West finished in successive places. Downers South was 10th. In the coaches' poll, Downers North (seventh), Downers South (eighth) and York (15th) made the preseason top 15.

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Naperville Central, which features potential individual champion Shilgalis, comes in the coaches' rankings at No. 10 to complete the area programs to make the coaches' grade.

But it is WW South that has garnered much of the preseason attention. Hauenstein was the lone all-state runner -- the junior finished No. 13, highest among local returnees -- but the Tigers have a potent upperclass nucleus with the Maison twins and Kluckhorn. "I think we're just taking it one race at a time," Hauenstein said of the lofty rankings, seconded by the website ilxctf.com. "We know there are some good teams out there. They know we're gunning for them, and we know they're gunning for us. We're just going to do the best we can to show who we are and what we stand for." The measure of any state-contending cross country team is its ability to bunch its five counting runners in relative close succession. There is a shared feeling among the WW South athletes and coaches the Tigers are up for the central task. "The strength of the team is our pack," Scott Maison said. "We want to try and have the smallest split possible and work together in the race." Kluckhorn may be a deciding factor if the Tigers are to ascend to the ultimate stage at Detweiller Park in November. "He may be our best runner," WW South coach Christopher Kuntz said of the junior. "I think I have really improved a lot since last cross country season," Kluckhorn said. "Over the (last) track season, that's when the four of us (Kluckhorn, Hauenstein and the Maison twins) really started running as a pack. That's the strength of our team; if one guy has an off-day, one of the other three guys is there to step it up."

The WW South runners are certain a showdown with Glenbard West will materialize at some point this fall. "We're good friends with the kids at Glenbard West," Sean Maison said. "We know what they're all about. They are all very good teams {among the ranked programs in the area), but I think what we've got here is pretty special." Kuntz welcomes the challenge of not only continuing the progression at the state level but also with the prospects of renewing new league rivalries. "We know that we have to work hard," Kuntz said. "We are trying to improve. This area is so tough, year after year. To be mentioned with any of those (established programs) is a great thing. We are really excited about the DuKane Conference."

Glenbard West was a state power during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years in the early 1960s. The Hilltoppers' only state championship dates to the period, but Glenbard West will seek to reclaim its past greatness. Cavan, who won at Fenton in 15 minutes, 1.4 seconds on Saturday, and Moody were 14th and 18th, respectively, at the state finals last fall. O'Brien and Repking -- with sophomore Hohe in close pursuit -- also had auspicious debuts in Bensenville on Saturday. Moody finished fourth in the race. There was a certain expectation for the program with its quartet of almost interchangeable seniors paving the way. "We thought that we would be ranked high," Nugent said. "We want to focus on improving. We're trying not to pay too much attention to (the rankings). We're trying to keep it simple." Nugent calculated it has been decades since Glenbard West last captured a Silver championship. But it is the Hilltoppers' top priority before the onset of the state series." Nugent has no issues with the preseason team rankings. "Wheaton South is a clear favorite," Nugent said. "I like them, for sure. But it's not a lock like it has been (in other years)."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Downers North holds both the conference title and top state hardware in its possession. The expected showdown between the Trojans and defending champion Neuqua Valley never materialized last fall as Downers North (76) had less than half the 149 points the Wildcats totaled. But Roberts, all-state last fall with his 22nd-place finish, is the only Downers North state participant who did not graduate last spring. The Trojans' leader, though, is ranked No. 4 among Class 3A individuals.

But Naperville Central senior Thomas Shilgalis' third-highest individual rating was largely solidified by running the third-fastest time in the history of the Downers Grove South season opener last month. Shilgalis was far less than his physical peak in finishing 92nd last fall in Peoria. "Thomas was struggling with some injuries at the end of last season that accumulated," Naperville Central coach Dave Ashton said. "The state series is rough on an athlete, week after week after week." "I don't even want to put a (health) percentage of what I was," Shilgalis said. The uncommitted senior regained his strength and stamina last spring to put himself in position for a dramatic final-year run. "Whatever (Shilgalis) is determined to do, he tends to do it," Ashton said. "We'll see at the next couple of meets where the (main) competition is."

Hauenstein is sandwiched between Cavan and Moody with his No. 6 ranking among Class 3A competitors. Sean Maison and Kluckhorn augment Hauenstein and with their respective rankings at Nos. 10 and 18. Ilxctf.com also predicts all-state seasons for West Suburban Silver members Hill (No. 13) at Hinsdale Central and York junior Kern (20th). Eighth-ranked Downers South is once again the Gold favorite. But Willowbrook -- very much like such programs as Wheaton North and Waubonsie Valley -- is lurking in the shadows. "It's going to be tough to beat Downers (South)," Willowbrook coach T.J. Artman said. "We have a nice sophomore crew. Another year or two, you never know."

Wheaton North coach Nate Roe sees darkness behind the doors of the new DuKane Conference, especially with the likes of state-ranked WW South, Batavia and St. Charles East. "(The new league) is kind of an unknown," Roe said.

Glenbard South departed the Metro Suburban to join forces with area holdovers Glenbard East and West Chicago in the new-look, single-divison Upstate Eight. "Even though we are the smallest school, things are looking up," Glenbard South coach Doug Gorski said. "(Our top returnees) were all sophomores last year." In the Class 2A state series, St. Francis' Aquino and Weizeorick are all-state contenders, according to coach Scott Nelson. The Spartans finished 23rd in the state last fall. Hinsdale South and Fenton could be hard-pressed to return to Peoria as team state qualifiers. But Hinsdale South sophomore Watson has turned heads in the early season with his raw but explosive athleticism.

-- Kevin McGavin

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