Scouting DuPage County boys track and field
Top teams: Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Glenbard West, Metea Valley, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Wheaton North, Wheaton Warrenville South, York.
Top athletes: Addison Trail: Jonathan Chambers-Green (jr., hurdles), Cesar Herrera (sr., hurdles). Benet: Brendon Carter (jr., hurdles), Colin Luwanja (sr., middle distance), Connor O'Keefe (sr., distance). Downers North: Nolan Bowerman (sr., throws), Connor Hopkins (jr., high jump), Matt Moravec (sr., distance), Jack Roberts (sr., distance). Downers South: Kendall Burrow (sr., throws), Jayden Lambert (jr., jumps), Shawn Lee (jr., throws), Jack Meyer (jr., hurdles). Fenton: Javier Cabral (sr., sprints), Nick Herringer (sr., hurdles). Glenbard East: Austin Salek (sr., high jump, pole vault), Peter Steiskal (sr., throws). Glenbard North: Maurice Abdalla (jr., throws), Xavier Curtis (jr., sprints, long jump), Marat Schatz (sr., distance), Matt Sulocha (sr., distance). Glenbard South: Jeremy Earnst (sr., jumps), John Madison (sr., throws), DeJon McAdory (sr., sprints), Stevan Plavsic (sr., hurdles, shot put). Glenbard West: Rory Cavan (sr., distance), Tyquan Cox (sr., sprints, long jump), Adam Dau (sr., throws), Stephen Moody (sr., distance), Corey Williams (sr., jumps). Hinsdale Central: Matt Kusak (sr., distance), Andrew Novatney (jr., hurdles), Ethan Ruth (sr., hurdles). Hinsdale South: Jayden Arquines (jr., middle distance), Justin Davis (sr., hurdles, sprints), Kamron Lipscomb (sr., jumps), Uchechi Obasi (jr., sprints); IC Catholic: Kyle Franklin (so., sprints), Justin Hall (so., sprints), Michael Johnson (sr., throws). Lake Park: Carlos Feliciano (jr., jumps), Zach Frye (jr., pole vault), Michael Shuff (sr., pole vault), Adam Waitr (sr., sprints). Lisle: Charlie Waldusky (sr., throws), Connor Webb (jr., high jump). Metea Valley: Pryce Giwa-Osagie (sr., high jump), Nikola Maric (sr., sprints, long jump), Temi Osobamiro (sr., jumps), Michael Varzino (sr., middle distance). Montini: Nick Fedanzo (sr., sprints), Jayden Gertsen (sr., distance), Zach Olson (sr., sprints). Naperville Central: Justin Agema (sr., sprints), Thomas Codo (sr., sprints), Patrick Julian (jr., middle distance), Seth Klein-Collins (sr., distance), Cade McDonald (sr., hurdles, sprints), Thomas Shilgalis (sr., middle distance). Naperville North: Jake Allen (jr., distance), Griffin Blecke (sr., middle distance), Will deBolt (sr., sprints, triple jump), McLean Griffin (sr., middle distance), Andrew Li (so., sprints), Nick Trattner (sr., distance). Neuqua Valley: Matt Appel (jr., throws), Kel Foley (sr., sprints), Patrick Hoffmann (jr., sprints), Alex Kiefer (sr., pole vault), Michael Madiol (sr., distance), Donovan Turner (sr., hurdles). St. Francis: Jon Aquino (sr., middle distance), Joe Lang (sr., sprints, jumps), Dan Weizeorick (jr., distance). Timothy Christian: Clint Fincher (sr., distance), Caleb Mitchell (jr., distance). Waubonsie Valley: Wes Beitler (jr., distance), Aden Stapleton (sr., pole vault), Spencer Tonks (jr., hurdles). West Chicago: Rikson Naway (sr., middle distance). Westmont: Gavin Carr (sr., pole vault), Ishmay Kone (sr., high jump, hurdles). Wheaton Academy: Nate Bierly (jr., hurdles), Noah Mayo (jr., sprints). Wheaton North: Rick Hummell (sr., throws), Josh James (sr., hurdles, triple jump), Jake Johnson (sr., throws), Ben LeVasseur (sr., high jump), Eli Odell (sr., hurdles), Connor Zydek (sr., distance). WW South: Joe Franke (jr., sprints), William Hauenstein (jr., distance), Joe Ives (sr., pole vault), Jake MacConnachie (sr., pole vault), Scott Maison (sr., distance), Sean Maison (sr., distance), Cedric Rowzee (sr., sprints). Willowbrook: D'Onte Gholston (sr., sprints, jumps), Liam Riesen (jr., sprints), Will Stout (sr., hurdles). York: Brendan Hill (sr., pole vault), Colin Hill (so., distance), Jimmy Hoffman (jr., sprints), Daniel Klysh (jr., sprints), Christopher Radcliff (so., sprints), Max Santiago (jr., hurdles), Kam Stearns (jr., triple jump).
Outlook: Whether on a stopwatch or driving to the boys state track and field finals in Charleston, there is power in numbers.
"The plan this year is to be pretty crowded on two of those minibuses," said Downers Grove South coach Brian Caldwell.
In 2018 Neuqua Valley sent 21 athletes to the state meet, starters to alternates. They earned the Wildcats' first Class 3A title without winning an event.
"They were running for something more than themselves," said Neuqua coach Mike Kennedy.
By necessity or practicality, many teams have a different focus. After all, track and field mainly is about maximizing potential.
"I'm happy with trying to get personal bests and trying to get higher than that every time," said Timothy Christian coach John Vander Kamp.
Transitioning from indoor to outdoor, Naperville Central looks to do that while enjoying team success.
On March 15 the Redhawks won the DuPage Valley Conference indoor title for the first time since 2001. They displayed versatility, front-line track talent and developing yet deep field events.
Injury-free for the first time in three seasons, Cade McDonald joins Thomas Codo in sprints and brings it in hurdles. Returning all-stater Thomas Shilgalis headlines a strong middle- to long-distance corps including Seth Klein-Collins, Patrick Julian and valuable relay man Justin Agema.
In 2018 the Michigan-bound Shilgalis placed third in the Class 3A 1,600-meter finals and owns an 800 personal best of 1 minute, 51.81 seconds. He set the Redhawks' indoor 800 record, 1:55.99, in March at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
Naperville Central snapped Neuqua Valley's three-year streak of indoor DVC titles and seems best equipped to halt its similar outdoor streak.
"I think we can score in all 18 events in most meets we go to," said Redhawks coach Steve Wiesbrook.
Regarding Neuqua, any team with 163 athletes will compete. Junior Matt Appel is a returning Class 3A qualifier in shot put and discus. Donovan Turner, Kel Foley and Patrick Hoffmann return from a third-place 1,600 relay. None are back from the Wildcats' second-place 3,200 relay -- including Duke commit Zach Kinne, who moved to Pennsylvania -- but coach Mike Kennedy believes the crew from last fall's third-place Class 3A cross country team were all-state caliber as well. Others like sophomore sprinter Max Rivera will step up.
"I think losing at (DVC indoor) conference was a little bit of a wake-up call, and that's OK," Kennedy said.
Turner is big-time. Runner-up in the Class 3A 110-meter hurdles in 2018 and sixth in the 300s, he also anchored that third-place 1,600 relay.
Waubonsie Valley will focus on developing individuals such as pole vaulter Aden Stapleton, whose indoor DVC win at 14 feet, 6 inches was an 18-inch personal best. Naperville North is loading up, the frosh-soph DVC indoor champ by 31 points.
Metea Valley is sound. Among others it offers 6-5 high jumper Pryce Giwa-Osagie, athletic Nikola Maric, returning downstate jumper Temi Osobamiro. Michael Varzino is on the Mustangs' top-10 lists from 400 to 3,200 meters.
As fall and winter athletes discovered, the new DuKane Conference is darn competitive. Wheaton Warrenville South benefitted from Batavia's disqualification in the 1,600 relay (won by Wheaton North) to win the first boys indoor meet. The Tigers' challenge will be to keep their Class 3A cross country champions healthy, fill in middle distance and relays behind hurdles strength and elite sprinter Cedric Rowzee, and develop field events around all-state pole vaulter Jake MacConnachie and qualifying vaulter Joe Ives.
Pole vault and Lake Park come in the same breath. The Lancers reload there after graduating 2018 Class 3A runner-up Tom Paprocki. Sprinter Adam Waitr is a surprise. He has run like the "wind," as his mother tongue indicates, ranked among Athletic.net's top 16 in both the 55 and 200 dashes.
Wheaton North is ready to roll. Just 11 points behind WW South at the DuKane indoor meet, the seasoned Falcons now take advantage of the downstate duo of Rick Hummell and Jake Johnson in discus; hurdlers Eli Odell and Josh James can stretch it to 300 meters.
Glenbard North's young sprinters will hit the weights to achieve long-term goals, but Xavier Curtis is ready now. Wheaton North coach Don Helberg said the junior was in line to win the DuKane indoor 55- and 200-meter sprints plus long jump had Curtis not been out sick.
"I think it's going to come down to that (1,600) relay again," Helberg said of the DuKane outdoor meet.
At the West Suburban Silver indoor meet York lacked ace Ethan Kern due to an Achilles' pull that may limit his distance and early outdoor reps. The Dukes still topped a loaded field. They look to upend four-time-defending Silver outdoor champ Oak Park and go from there.
"It was awesome to be relevant in the mix," said Dukes coach Charlie Kern, Ethan's father.
Ethan Kern and Colin Hill led a fourth-place Class 3A cross country team, but York offers much more. State-qualifying pole vaulter Brendan Hill has gone 14-8; Daniel Klysh ran the state's fastest indoor 600; triple-jumpers Kam Stearns and Richard Buehling are around 44 feet; Silver indoor 200 winner Christopher Radcliff leads a small army of sprinters.
"There were so many years where York was not a track and field team, just a track team," Charlie Kern said. "It's awesome that we're a full team."
Of note, Glenbard West, Downers Grove North and Hinsdale Central finished 1-3 on the sophomore level at the Silver indoor. Glenbard West, second outdoors in the Silver in 2018, ninth in Class 3A and 13 points behind York in third at the recent Silver indoor meet, has certainly been relevant under eight-year coach Jon Schweighardt.
Hilltoppers distance brings Duke-bound Rory Cavan and Yale recruit Stephen Moody, fifth and sixth, respectively, in Class 3A cross country (Downers North's Jack Roberts placed fourth). In 2018 Glenbard West qualified all four relays with Tyquan Cox running on three, but aside from Cox plus Moody, Cavan and senior Will O'Brien from a fourth-place 3,200 relay, all positions are open.
Some year Downers Grove South may lose control of the West Suburban Gold. Probably not in 2019. The Mustangs seek their 10th Gold outdoor title in 11 seasons (Willowbrook 2014) and just won both levels indoors. Setting a program triple-jump record this winter at 47-5, Jayden Lambert is better now than when he took third last year in Class 3A. Shot putter Shawn Lee, at 55-7 indoors, is approaching Tyler Rocco's program record. The Mustangs combine veterans from a cross country sectional champion with an influx of young sprinters.
"I certainly think we're a top-10 team at state," coach Brian Caldwell said.
Hinsdale South coach Dean Norman has the smallest team in his 14 seasons, in the 40s. Yet the Hornets placed second indoors in the Gold behind such event winners as Jayden Arquines, Justin Davis and Uchechi Obasi, who also helped set the school indoor 1,600 relay record at the Top Times meet. Addison Trail has youngsters around downstate candidates Jonathan Chambers-Green and Cesar Herrera, while Willowbrook fields 2018 surprise 400-meter qualifier Liam Riesen on the largest team coach T.J. Artman's had in his 10 years.
"With numbers grow fun and excitement to work hard every day and improve," Artman said.
Benet is the lone DuPage County team in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, where its balanced lineup thrives. Returning Class 2A 300 hurdles qualifier Brendan Carter, defending ESCC 800 winner Colin Luwanja, some solid distance runners and field events, the Redwings shoot for a three-peat conference title over nemesis Marist.
Montini also lacks a local peer in the Chicago Catholic League. But the Broncos know Charleston. Montini has reached the Class 2A finals in either the 400 or 800 relay the last three years, with returners Nick Fedanzo and Zach Olson finishing second in the 400 relay in 2017. Montini got good news Monday when state-qualifying long jumper Jermari Harris, an Iowa football recruit, returned to the squad.
Glenbard South has proved to be a good fit in the Upstate Eight Conference despite carrying the league's smallest enrollment. The football team finished fifth in the 10-team conference, the basketball team third. West Aurora remains the track standard-bearer "but after that I don't see why we can't be in the mix," said Raiders coach Ronn Claussen.
He got a nice transfer from Walther Christian, UEC indoor 400 winner DeJon McAdory. The Raiders finished fourth indoors, one spot ahead of Glenbard East, where high jumper Austin Salek and thrower Peter Steiskal seek to be the Rams' first state qualifiers since 2016. West Chicago senior Rikson Naway is so intent on qualifying in the 800 that he asked coach Paul McLeland to write his employer for time off leading up to the state meet.
It's hard to know the Metro Suburban Conference without a scorecard. As aligned for boys track this year, Fenton, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy are in the Blue Division, IC Catholic and Timothy Christian in the Red. St. Francis returns Jon Aquino and Dan Weizeorick from a Class 2A seventh-place 3,200 relay, the Spartans' first all-state finish in nine years.
"We won it in cross country" St. Francis coach Scott Nelson said of the Metro Suburban Blue, "so we think we can challenge for the conference title."
Metro Suburban flux continues this fall when Fenton moves to the Upstate Eight and Westmont comes in from the Interstate Eight, which itself will reorganize. The IEC also lost iconic Lisle coach Ken Jakalski, who after a series of health issues in 2018 resigned his position to Pat Woyna. Class 2A discus qualifier Charlie Waldusky heads his roster, which has relay potential and basketball dunker Connor Webb in high jump.
Westmont returns Class 1A qualifier Gavin Carr in pole vault. Rainy Kaplan, sole female head coach of a DuPage County boys track team, believes the Sentinels can repeat as sectional champions for the first time in history. She's got a roster 50 strong, about a quarter of the school's male enrollment.
"All the cool kids do it," she said.
Several teams suffered great losses. Zach Kinne transferred from Neuqua Valley and Hinsdale South lost three impact athletes to transfer -- sprinters Jacob Marcus (Oswego) and Kwentin Brookins (Westmont), and shot putter Quentin Fields (Oswego East).
Hinsdale Central senior Luke Skokna, seventh in the Class 3A 400 dash in 2018, is out this spring due to a knee injury last football season. Football injuries also claimed Waubonsie Valley sprinter Bryce Logan, IC Catholic athlete Sean Hipskind, Naperville Central thrower Ryan Walsh and will at least set back Fenton discus thrower Jimmy Deckert.
Downers Grove South senior Eddie Siuda, a Class 3A 1,600-meter qualifier and the Mustangs' top returning distance runner, may miss this spring with an ankle injury. Monday a silver lining appeared when he committed to the University of Illinois.
Since last year, Wheaton Warrenville South alumnus and two-year coach Chris Arthurs moved to Naperville North to teach and be the football team's defensive coordinator. He also assumed track duties. Succeeding Arthurs at WW South is Cam Culpepper, for eight years a sprints and hurdles coach at South Elgin.
"It's a blessing," Culpepper said of his long-held goal of being a head coach.
Downers South's Brian Caldwell, the Mustangs' boys cross country coach, inherited track when seven-year coach Dustin Hausherr and his family moved out of state.
Lake Park's Jay Ivory, who had his first child last spring, resigned from track though he retains girls cross country. Tom Kaberna, Lake Park's horizontal jumps coach when it won Class 3A titles from 2010-13, is now boys coach after three years with the girls. Kaberna's underclassmen remind him of the "guys we had when we made a run," he said.
"But it's going to take a couple years," he added.
Top meets: April 6: Lisle Megameet; Wheaton North Best 4. April 12: Naperville North Gus Scott. April 13: Downers South Bud Mohns; Metea Valley Mustang Invite. April 18: Glenbard South Raider Invite. April 19: Downers South Bob Cohoon. April 20: WW South Red Grange. April 26: Hinsdale South Mike Yavorski. April 27: Glenbard West Jim Arnold; Waubonsie Valley Red Ribbon. May 2: Interstate Eight, Manteno. May 3: DuPage County, Glenbard South; Hinsdale Central McCarthy Invite. May 4: Lisle Carlin Nalley, Bolingbrook. May 8: East Suburban Catholic, Marist. May 9: Upstate Eight, East Aurora; West Suburban Gold, Hinsdale South. May 10: DuKane, Lake Park; DuPage Valley, Naperville North; Metro Suburban Blue, Fenton; Metro Suburban Red, Aurora Christian; West Suburban Silver, York. May 11: Chicago Catholic League, Loyola. May 15-17: Class 1A, 2A, 3A sectionals. May 23-25: State finals, Charleston.
-- Dave Oberhelman