Boys cross country: DuPage County and Fox season preview

The Hinsdale Central boys cross country team is looking to climb one big spot up the Class 3A ladder this season.

The Red Devils, who finished second in 3A last season, are among the contending teams for the state title due to the return of senior Dan Watcke and junior Aden Bandukwala, Watcke, a standout in track, placed 14th in the state meet and Bandukwala finished 29th.

This group has worked hard this summer and is focusing on staying healthy and running their best toward the end of the season," Hinsdale Central coach James Westphal said.

Addison Trail is in rebuilding mode, but looking for Daniel Lupa, Mike Jarez, Josh Gutierrez and Nehemiah Varghese to make strides this season.

Batavia is looking to make some more noise this fall. The Bulldogs closed out the track season with a Class 3A state championship. Quintin Lowe showed off his potential by winning the Kane County Meet on Saturday, helping lead the Bulldogs to the team title.

Burlington Central is led by Ryan Kries, Adam Hinkleman and Logan Karottu.

Geneva welcomes a solid group of runners in Andrew Warcup, Anthony Ross, David Roeder, Jack Kuehl, Dominic Ross and Julian Hipp.

"The strength of this team will be its pack," Geneva coach Peter Raak said. "They're a very motivated group who work well together and are team focused."

Downers Grove North earned third place in Class 3A last season, just behind state champion Sandburg and runner-up Hinsdale Central. Downers Grove North brings back Topher Ferris, Caden Weber, Ryan Eddington and Asa Gaspar.

"This is shaping up to be another fun year for our group," Downers Grove North coach John Sipple said. "It will be exciting to see how this group develops and the passion that they show throughout the year."

Downers Grove South also had a top 20 showing in state, placing 18th and earning the title in the West Suburban Gold last season. Josh Poeschel, Carter Smott and Shane Hosty are among the top runners.

Elgin's top four of Diego Valdivia, Jack Allen, Austin Villa and Cole Tupper put them as one of the top teams in the Upstate Eight Conference.

"Our strength this season will be racing as a pack to be successful," Elgin coach Chris Vargas said. "This team is hungry to win Elgin's first Upstate Eight Conference title and climb the ranks at sectionals."

Fenton senior Victor Vazquez is a runner with immense potential, according to coach Patrick Fritsch.

"Our strength will definitely be Victor up front, as he will be looking to finish in the top 10 in almost every invite we attend this year," Fritsch said.

Glenbard South has won the last two Upstate Eight Conference titles, and also looking to make a run for a high placing at the Class 2A meet this fall.

Glenbard West's Anthony Nitti and Gio Hernandez are slated to be the team's top two runners this season.

A year ago, Hampshire won the Fox Valley Conference championship, a regional title and qualified for state. Senior Owen Cuplin is looking to lead his team to another stellar season.

Harvest Christian seniors Daniel Winkelman and David Peterson are the leaders on a young team with potential.

Hinsdale South's Adam Fournier is the top returnee, while Mason White and Andrew Peterson both are coming off solid seasons.

Huntley sophomore Tommy Nitz is looking to continue his upward climb following a promising freshman season. Juniors Luke Grubbs and Zach Zuzzio and seniors Ty Rasmussen and Hudsone Fisher make for a nice blend of youth and experience.

Kaneland's Evan Nosek established himself as one of the top runners in the area last season.

Lake Park's strength lies in its top two runners - Jake Zegger and James Guevarra.

"They both push each other every day and will help set the example for the young runners on the team," Lake Park coach Joseph Pacione said.

Larkin seniors Jayden Meyer and Sean Styles, both four-year runners, lead the pack for the Royals. South Elgin's Andrew Strama, Jacob Yachinich and Henry Carr spark high hopes for the Royals this season after a second-place finish in the Upstate Eight Conference meet last season.

Montini had a memorable showing last season that culminated with a Class 1A team advancement. Sophomore Nolan Ferris and juniors Hugh Flannery and Gabe Bianco are the top returning runners.

Naperville North's Colin Corcoran and Addisu Wolski are the established leaders on the team. Junior Luke Donaldson and sophomore Amar Bhanpuri comprise a strong core to build upon for the Huskies.

Neuqua Valley had a memorable showing last season that ended with a 10th-place showing in Class 3A. The Wildcats have a talented group of runners, paced by Zac Close, Robert Glenn, Ryan Palmer, Nico Castrillon, Andres Lopez, Logan Brown, Matthew Gutierrez, Alex Herrera, Tony Hinderliter, Tony Pastore, Bryce Chamberlin, and Connor Boehm.

Marmion is counting on big seasons from Connor Carlson, John Daffenberg and Mitchell Gratz to be among the top teams in Class 2A.

St. Charles East senior Mitch Garcia is expected to be the leader for the Saints this season. The Saints, who won the DuKane Conference Meet last season, are looking to make a return trip to state.

"This year the team will focus on creating their own identity as all of the 2019 and 2020 kids have graduated," St. Charles East coach Chris Bosworth said. "This team will need to depend on each other, learn from every race and workout and create realistic and attainable goals."

St. Charles North's Will Lackner is back for another season. Junior Nick Chana is also among the returnees.

"We're a young team that has very little varsity running experience," St. Charles North coach Kevin Harrington said. "Time will tell what we can develop."

St. Edward seniors Thomas Walla and Jorge Reich are part of a small but talented team looking to make some headlines this season.

Streamwood's Alex Harrison, a sectional qualifier last season, is back to lead the Sabres, joining Gabe Inorio and Andres Viveros.

Timothy Christian seniors Luke Hubbard and Alex Becker are the most experienced runners on a diverse team. Leyden is set to rely on a talented group that includes Christian Lopez, Samuel Malke and Israel Rodriguez.

West Aurora's top runners include Sean Heetland, Ayden Jenkins, Devyn Jenkins, Brandon DeLeon, Sammy Rocio, Aidan Massaro and Nathan Gehrmann.

West Chicago senior Connor Zenter, a three-year varsity runner and team captain, is back to make another run this fall. Sophomores Zach Williamson and Judah McLean are runners to watch.

Westmont senior Tim Rosland is aiming for a big season to close out his career on a team with quality experience and youth.

Wheaton North has the luxury of depending on several talented runners in hopes of topping last season's 3A 15th-place effort, including Caleb Youngstedt, Aiden Murphy, Ben Shebar and Jude Hubbard.

"We have a good deal of experience up front, especially with Caleb, but we need our younger guys to step up and fill the roles needed," Wheaton North coach Nathan Rose said.

Wheaton Warrenville South's group of Nathan Virginelli, Colin Nelson, Lucas Yonker and Sam Cruz are leaders on a talented team that took third in the DuKane Conference.

"We have a great mix of veteran seniors and underclassmen," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Chris Kuntz said.

Boys cross country at a glance

Key dates: Regionals Oct. 22, Sectionals Oct. 29, State Nov. 5

2021 state champions: Sandburg (3A), Fenwick (2A), Latin (1A)

Top five at 3A state: Sandburg (130), Hinsdale Central (175), Downers Grove North (179), New Trier (196), Oswego (197)

Top five at 2A state: Fenwick (120), Deerfield (141), Morton (164), Kaneland (185), Riverside-Brookfield (235)

Top area runners: Hampshire's Owen Cuplin, Hinsdale Central's Dan Watcke and Aden Bandukwala, Batavia's Quintin Lowe, Kaneland's Evan Nosek, St. Charles East's Mitch Garcia

-Compiled by Bobby Narang

Caleb Youngstedt is part of an experienced Wheaton North team that finished 15th in last year's Class 3A state meet. Mark Black / Shaw Media Illinois
  Owen Cuplin returns for defending Fox Valley Conference champion Hampshire. Brian Hill/
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.