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Boys cross country preview: Return trip to state tops on Tigers' list

Wheaton Warrenville South's Nolan McKenna, shown during the Class 3A 3200-meter run during track season in the spring, is a leading running for the cross country team this fall.
Douglas Cottle/PhotoNews for Shaw Media
Wheaton Warrenville South's Nolan McKenna, shown during the Class 3A 3200-meter run during track season in the spring, is a leading running for the cross country team this fall. Douglas Cottle/PhotoNews for Shaw Media

A less-experienced group looks to send Wheaton North to state again while a strong core of runners return for Wheaton Warrenville South, which hopes to better its 2012 state finish.

Wheaton North Falcons

Conference: DuPage Valley

Head coach: Nathan Roe

2012 results: 1st in DVC, 1st in regional, 5th in sectional, 21st in state

Top runners:

Kilty Askin, jr.

Josh Brenc, sr.

Joseph Emmanuel, sr.

Liam Murray, sr.

Wes Noyes, sr.

Donald Rowe, sr.

Danny Steeno, jr.

Chris Stopka, sr.

Outlook: The Falcons have had a lot of success recently and are coming off a season in which they qualified for state as a team, placing 21st. But this year’s version will look vastly different as Wheaton North graduated five of its top seven runners from 2012.

The squad does bring back seniors Joseph Emmanuel and Wes Noyes, who finished 145th and 163rd, respectively, at the Class 3A state meet last year.

“So far we are a work in progress, but we knew that this group might need time in order to gel,” coach Nathan Roe said. “We have a strong front-runner in Joseph and our next four can form a pretty tight pack, but have yet to show it in action. It will be  a challenge to keep our state meet streak alive, but the guys are up for it and seem to be headed in that direction.”

Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers

Conference: DuPage Valley

Head coach: Greta Havey

2012 results: 4th in DVC, 2nd in regional, 3rd in sectional, 17th in state

Top runners:

Kyle Cepeda, jr.

David Dillon, sr.

Nolan McKenna, sr.

David Santana, sr.

Luke Schroer, sr.

Outlook: Expectations are high this fall for a Tigers’ team that brings back a lot of talent from a group that finished 17th in Class 3A in 2012.

Leading the way is senior Nolan McKenna, who just missed out on all-state recognition last fall with his 30th place individual finish. Junior Kyle Cepeda (58th) and senior David Dillon (111th) also return as do fellow seniors Luke Schroer, David Santana and Andrew Martz.

“The boys are working very hard to maintain tight pack running and to get better as a team one week at a time,” coach Greta Havey said. “A return to the state meet and a better finish than last year is our ultimate goal.”

West Chicago Wildcats

Conference: Upstate Eight

Head coach: Brian Puchalski

Top runners:

Bob Draughton

Dan McComb

Rahul Prabalo

Jo Sawicki

Dominic Sole

Robert Szulczewski

Outlook: Brian Puchalski takes over a Wildcats program that is certainly trying to rebuild as they move into the Upstate Eight conference.

West Chicago has only two seniors out of their 14 runners, with sophomores and freshmen making up most of the roster.

“We have a young team,” said coach Brian Puchalski. “At one of our latest meets, three out of our top five runners were underclassmen.”

St. Francis Spartans

Conference: Suburban Christian

Head coach: Scott Nelson

2012 results: 4th in regional, 4th in sectional, 23rd in state

Top runners:

Daniel Cady, jr.

Mike Deaton, sr.

Andrew Hallet, sr.

Matt Lorish, sr.

Nick Vilimek, sr.

Outlook: Optimism should be quite high within the Spartans program as they return five of their top seven runners from a group that placed 23rd in Class 2A last fall. Andrew Hallet led St. Francis with a 79th-place state finish in 2012 and he is back along with Nick Vilimek (117th), Matt Lorish (131st), Daniel Cady (174th) and Mike Deaton (181st).

Wheaton Academy


Conference: Suburban Christian

Head coach: Chris Felinski

2012 results: 5th in regional, 8th in sectional

Top runners:

Jonah Jones, fr.

Brandon Lach, jr.

Jacob Robleski, so.

Mitchell Smith, so.

Noah Van Dyke, jr.

Outlook: Wheaton Academy returns four of its top five runners from a year ago but did lose state qualifier Widi Moestopo to graduation. The Warriors started off the season in strong fashion, placing second out of 18 teams at the ICOPS Invite on Sept. 7.

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