The boys track season is on hold, but we’re still previewing area teams. Here are previews of Glenbard East, Glenbard West, St. Francis, Montini, Wheaton Academy, Willowbrook and York.
GLENBARD EAST RAMS
Coach: Daniel Greco
Top athletes: Aidan Ihms, sr., 1,600/3,200 relay; Nigel Neibel, sr., 800/3,200 relay; Andrew Bylsma, sr., 1,600/3,200 relay; Tyrese Buffkin, so., high jump; Roy Ebersold, sr., 400/1,600 relay; Zach Panozzo, sr., sprints/sprints relays; Deion Manley, so., 400/1,600 relay; Patrick Richmond, sr., sprints/sprint relays
Outlook: Ihms, Neibel and Bylsma led Glenbard East to an Upstate Eight Conference cross country championship last fall. "The competitive drive has been off the charts so far this season," Greco said. Based on the Rams' few indoor meets, the strength of the team appears to be distance events. The 3,200 relay took third at the Maine East Invite. In its final meet, the relay ran its season-best time by 25 seconds. Ihms is looking to get his 1,600 time under 4:30, which is where he finished last season. The Rams' sprinting group has made progress. Led by Ebersold, the 1,600 relay also has taken big steps.
GLENBARD WEST HILLTOPPERS
Coach: Jonathan Schweighardt
Top athletes: Oscar Berrun, sr., sprints/long jump; Sean Hopkins, jr., long jump/triple jump/sprints; Pierce Cousins, jr., 3,200/1,600; William Hohe, jr., 3,200/1,600; Jalen Moore, jr., sprints; Matthew Travers, jr., high jump/sprints.
Outlook: The Hilltoppers are looking to build off the second straight sectional championship they won last spring. Berrun is the lone returner from the 400-meter relay team that took fifth at Class 3A state last year. Cousins took 12th and Hohe was 121st at the Class 3A state cross country meet last fall.
"We are working hard to improve in all areas," Schweighardt said. "We have a well-rounded team with a lot of depth. We are very excited to get the season back up and running so we can see the gains that our kids have made."
Coach: Eric Brechtel
Top athletes: Zeb Nelson, sr., 400; Nick Fisch, jr., 3,200; Ned Kalata, so., 1,600; Tommy May, so., 800; Jack McWhinney, so., shot put/discus; Luke Hemmersmeier, fr., sprints/long jump; Jonathan Goff, fr., sprints; Josh Ugorji, fr., sprints.
Outlook: McWhinney, Montini's lone returning state qualifier who took second in the discus at sectionals, is more of a discus specialist but has been throwing the shot well this spring. The Broncos' sprint relays are young and showed great improvement from the first to second indoor meet. Brechtel said Hemmersmeier is "a star in the making," having already long jumped 19 feet, 2 inches with minimal practice. Fisch had a strong first 3,200 run in the indoor season. May, who came out for track after playing baseball as a freshman, ran a 2:08 800 split in Montini's 3,200 relay, and with experience and training could get near 2 minutes. Kalata was on a quest to break 5 minutes in the 1,600 before outdoor season, but only had one shot to do it.
"My heart is breaking for these boys," Brechtel said. "They trained really hard all winter for a chance to run outdoor track and now I'm afraid they might not get that chance."
ST. FRANCIS SPARTANS
Coach: Mike Prizy
Top athletes: Shane Anderson, jr., throws; Ben Bettag, jr., sprints, middle distance; Jack Crabtree, sr., hurdles, jumps; Leo DeLeon, sr., throws; Jackson Gerard, jr., sprints, jumps; Sam King, jr., middle distance, distance; Ethan Naling, jr., sprints, jumps; Chris Spahn, so., distance; Dan Weizeorick, sr., middle distance, distance.
Outlook: Weizeorick is coming off multiple all-state performances in the past year after leading the Spartans’ 3,200 relay to fifth, placing eighth in the 1,600, and garnering sixth at the Class 2A state cross country meet in November. Bettag also returns from St. Francis’ all-state 3,200 quartet. The distance crew will still be the core of the team.
“We want big things happening in May,” Prizy said.
WHEATON ACADEMY WARRIORS
Coach: Chris Felinski
Top athletes: Nate Bierly, sr., 300 hurdles; Noah Mayo, sr., 400.
Outlook: The Warriors have the largest team they've had in Felinski's 20 years coaching at Wheaton Academy. Bierly is the school record holder in the 300 hurdles, and is looking to make a run at state after finishing sixth at sectionals last year. Mayo, Wheaton Academy's top state contender, is less than a second from the state qualifying standard in the 400. The Warriors didn't have an indoor season, competition-wise, and Felinski said they essentially had eight practices before the season was interrupted.
WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH TIGERS
Coach: Cambron Culpepper
Top athletes: Jared Peaslee, sr., 800/1,600; Billy Hauenstein, sr., 1,600/3,200; David Zeller, sr., 800/1,600; DJ Almada, jr., 100/200; Joe Franke, sr., PV/400/relays; Ethan Seng, sr., 1,600/3,200; Shanne Johnson, sr., 400/800.
Outlook: The Tigers graduated a lot of points from last year's team that took fifth in the state, namely standout sprinter Cedric Rowzee. Culpepper said this group, while young, is special. Peaslee, Hauenstein and Zeller are two-time cross country All-Staters. Almada returns from the 800 relay team that took ninth at state. Culpepper said Franke "can do it all on the track," and he thinks he can become one of the area's best 400 runners.
"The success of our team will be felt for years to come because of what a lot of young guys within our organization are doing right now," Culpepper said.
Coach: Terry Artman
Top athletes: Enrique Cruz, jr., throws; Anthony Biancalana, sr., sprints; Brandon Heselton, sr., distance; Sean Kramer, jr., sprints.
Outlook: The Warriors have the largest group Artman has ever had with almost 100 athletes. Cruz could not compete last season, but is good to go this spring.
"These guys have good attitudes and a growing passion for track and field," Artman said.
Coach: Charlie Kern
Top athletes: Daniel Klysh, sr., 800/1,600/relays; Michael Moriarty, sr., 800/1,600/3,200 relay; Ethan Kern, sr., 800/1,600/3,200; Richard Buehling, sr., triple jump; Eric Sylvester, sr., 200/400/800 relay/1600 relay; Max Santiago, sr., hurdles; Jimmy Hoffman, sr., 200/400/sprint relays; Christopher Radcliff, jr., 100/200/sprint relays; Colin Hill, jr., 800/1,600/3,200/3,200 relay; Max Lupo, sr., 800/1,600/3,200 relay.
Outlook: The Dukes won their first two indoor invites before the season was interrupted. Missouri recruit Moriarty and Iowa commit Klysh are among the top returners in the 800. Moriarty leads a 3,200 relay that had the third-fastest time indoors in Illinois. Coach Kern is impressed with the development of sprinters Hoffman and Radcliff. Radcliff had the No. 1 200 time indoors, while Hoffman was third-fastest. Kentucky recruit Kern is rounding into shape after dealing with a lower body injury and will be a candidate for the 1,600 relay and perhaps an individual event. UIC recruit Sylvester is a returning state qualifier in the 400. Hill, who has the sixth-fastest indoor 800 in the state, is York's most-improved runner and could compete in any of the three distance races.