Duneland Athletic Conference
Runners to watch: Andrew Kearney, Sr.; Kevin Kenney, Jr.; Evan Mazurkiewicz, Sr.; Jonah Noel , Jr.; Mitch Wilborn, So.
Outlook: With its top two runners graduated, the Trojans' streak of qualifying for state every year since 2000 will be tested. Kearney, Kenney and Mazurkiewicz all have state experience.
Quote: "We still have some good kids, but they're not as gifted as some of the others we've been blessed to have. They're squeezing out every ounce of ability they have." -- coach Tim Ray
Runners to watch: Daniel Walters, Sr.; Tom Cierniak, Sr.; Alex Ray, Sr.
Outlook: The Bulldogs return three seniors from a squad that finished 16th in the state.
Quote: “There is a big group of guys vying for the fourth through seventh spots. We’re trying to improve on what we did last year.” !~ coach Keith Iddings
Runners to watch: Nick Lopacki, Sr.; Kelly Kline, Sr.; Mitch Bouma Sr.; Josh Rech, Jr.
Outlook: The Indians possess experience, losing just two of its top five to graduation.
Quote: “I don’t think we have one front runner, but we should have a pretty good pack that should come in together.” !~ coach Rudy Skorupa
Runners to watch: Anthony Didion, Sr.; Nathan Gerick, Jr.
Outlook: The Slicers (19th at state) were senior-laden, notably runner-up Mitch Hubner (IUPUI).
Runners to watch: Tyler Gray, Jr.; Conor Hill, Jr.; Marcus Jones, Jr.
Outlook: The Pirates return their top three runners.
Quote: “I’ve got a lot of younger guys, and whoever fills the fourth through seventh positions is going to be the key.” !~ coach Mike Hoffman
Runners to watch: Hondo Miller, So.; Luke Latchford, Jr.
Outlook: The Wolves graduated their top three runners, so they will have to fill out the ranks with newcomers.
Quote: "I hate to use the term rebuilding, but I am. I've got to exercise patience, make it a fun, positive experience and hopefully we'll see things develop in the next couple years." -- coach Mike Liss
Runners to watch: Dustin Balboa, Jr. Anthony Best, Jr.; Tylor Hudson, So., David Clegg, Jr.; Tim Huber, Sr.
Outlook: A near miss for a state berth last year, Portage looks like it could be on the good side of the bubble, as the additions balance out the losses.
Quote: "There's a much higher level of commitment. The freshmen will inject a little life into things and help with depth as well." -- coach Tom Erickson
Runners to watch: Ari Coulopoulos, Jr.; Peyton Reed, Sr.; Xavier Reed, Sr.; Pat Dalton, Sr.; Landon Davison, Sr.
Outlook: Hands down the area's best team, the Vikings return much of the group that took seventh at state with a bunch of veterans pushing for spots on a roster of 50. Coulopoulos was ninth at state. Newcomer Andrew Lyp could also crack the lineup.
Quote: "We seen some really good results thus far in the way they've trained." -- coach Mike Prow
Greater South Shore Conference
Runners to watch: Sal Cordova, Jr.; Nick Anglin, Jr.; Sam Sapyta, So.; Danny Pobereyko, Sr.; Jimmy Mullaney, Sr.
Outlook: Noll doubled its roster with 19 runners out.
Quote: “I’m excited and the kids want to run. We’ll see how we match up.” !~ coach Karl Repay
Runners to watch: Kevin Miller, Sr.; Andrew Huff, Jr.; Ed Villarreal, Sr.
Outlook: Slowed by injuries last season, Miller is healthy and gives the Warriors a solid No. 1.
Quote: “We’re just excited to have a full team and be able to score as a team.” !~ coach Rob Lukowski
Runners to watch: Brett Boby, Sr.; Carson Armes, Jr.; Austin Cintron, Fr.
Outlook: Boby leads a young team, having run all summer.
Quote: “It’s going to be a good year. Our numbers are there.”!~ coach Christina Elizondo
Runners to watch: Leo Espino, So.; Jesse Anderson, Jr.; Adam Davis, Sr.; Jake Koselke, Sr.
Outlook: The Spartans broke a postseason drought and look to build on that success. Three of the top five are back and newcomer Koselke will help.
Quote: “It depends on our fifth man. We’re still trying to figure out who that’s going to be.” !~ coach Tim Loughmiller
Runners to watch: Christopher Ramos, Fr.; Humberto Coyotl, So.
Outlook: New coach Rebeca Dominguez is trying to reinvigorate the Ingots. She looks for Ramos to lead the way.
Quote: “We may be young and not have a full team, but we hope to fill that once school starts to compete as a team.” !~ Dominguez
Runners to watch: Nick Cinko, Sr.; James Mills, Jr.; Alex Nader, So.; Eddie Hansen, Sr.; Robert Theiss, Jr.
Outlook: Kyle Nurse is now at Indiana State, but the back-to-back GSSC champs return everybody else and freshman Joel O'Shea could be their top runner.
Quote: "We're going to be the best team nobody really talks about. We're looking to move past one of the big schools and move on at the sectional." -- coach Louie Guillen
Runners to watch: Matt Lowe, Sr.; Cameron Chorba, Sr.; Mason Markovich, Sr.; Austin Loehman, So.
Outlook: Whiting lost two key runners to graduation, but will still look to improve.
Quote: “Our young runners will have to step up and fill their roles.” !~ coach Kevin Moynihan
GREAT LAKES ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Runners to watch: Ed Piaseczny, Sr.
Outlook: With only one senior, the Pioneers are very young. They hope to stay injury free.
Quote: “We look to continue to improve as the season goes on.” !~ coach Rich Hrapczak
Runners to watch: Greg Jazyk Sr.; Efrain Madrigal, Sr.; Isaiah Walker, Jr.; Andrew Brown, Jr.
Outlook: The Govs' primary goal every year is to beat rival Gavit, and coach Annie Maksimovich is excited about the possibility of getting it done with 17 runners in camp.
Quote: “They’re working really hard and showing up. We want to be No. 1 in the conference, and we’re hoping we can do that every year.” !~ Maksimovich
NORTHWEST CROSSROADS CONFERENCE
Runners to watch: Lucas Kalbfell, Sr.; Nick Janiga, Sr.; Zach Phillips, Sr.; Justin Anderson, Jr.; Zach McCrea, Jr.
Outlook: The 59ers lost three of their top five but will look for senior leadership.
Quote: “We’ve been compared to the soap opera, ‘The Young and the Restless.’ … We’ll be fine later on when we finally gel.” !~ coach Rick Torres
Runners to watch: Andy Duhon, Sr.; Nathan Coglianese, Fr.; Steven Patrocki, Jr.
Outlook: The Panthers were hit hard by graduation, losing five seniors, with another runner academically ineligible. Coach Shannon Scheidel welcomes a few freshmen but is hurting for numbers.
Quote: “I’m excited with the team I do have.” !~ Scheidel
Runners to watch: Zach Glick, Sr.; Michael Szczepanski, Sr.; Alex Lengel, Sr.; Dylan Linkiewicz, Jr.; Conor Stack, Sr.
Outlook: The Trojans have a strong senior group. They’ve set lofty goals, looking to do well in both the conference and postseason.
Quote: “If we stay healthy, this class can lead the team.” !~ coach Carlos Aburto
Runners to watch: Brent Dunn, Jr.; Alex Cordova, Sr.; Zach Spain, Sr.; John Petroskey, Jr.; Collin Allen, So.
Outlook: The Brickies celebrated a return to prominence, winning a regional and qualifying for state, and all seven are back from the state lineup.
Quote: “It would be great to win our conference and advance further in the postseason.” !~ coach Ty Artherhults
Runners to watch: Brandon Hazlett, Sr.; Travis Conley, Jr.; Robert Svitek, Jr.; Bryce Gawronski, So.
Outlook: The Kougars return four of their top five, but No. 1 Conley is hobbled by a stress fracture. When practice started, he had not yet been cleared medically.
Quote: “We’re bound to be better at the end of the season, just owing to experience gained.” !~ Tim Adams
Runners to watch: Kyle Eller, Sr.; Jeff Potat, Sr.; Brian Blaylock, Jr.; Ethan Huseman, So.; Garrett Corning, Sr.
Outlook: The Red Devils have made semistate 14 straight seasons, and coach Jake Rakoczy wants to finally reach state for the first time.
Quote: “I think we’ve got a shot. But when you’ve got five guys to count on, all five have to be on their game and healthy.” !~ Rakoczy
Runners to watch: Tom Bolanowski, Jr.; Ryan Kritzer, So.; Manual Lopez, So.; Steven Burgwald, Sr.; Scott Farley, So.
Outlook: Coach Aaron Brown is hoping his charges can close the gap between a strong top four and the fifth spot.
Quote: “We didn’t make it out of the regional for the first time in a while, and we may be looking at that again. We’re a fairly good team, and that just shows you how good teams are in our regional.” !~ Brown
Runners to watch: Ramon Compton, Jr.; Areon Farmer, So.; Donald Luckett, Fr.
Outlook: The Hornets basically have a new roster but do have three solid kids to build around.
Quote: “We are looking to improve on last year’s record. It will be a good year.” !~ coach Charles Jones
Runners to watch: Kari Daniel, Sr.; Barrie Wesby, So.
Outlook: Roosevelt might have its largest team ever with 35 runners in the fold for new coach Branden Wesby. The numbers got a boost with basketball coach Renaldo Thomas’ mandate that all his players run.
Quote: “I see a lot of guys with some real athletic ability, and they look great.” !~ Wesby
Runners to watch: DiJon Smith, Sr.; Marcus Carter, Jr.; Leonard Jeffries, Sr.; Jammie Claiborne, Sr.; Hanson Allen, Jr.
Outlook: The Cougars welcome back two of their top five, but two transfer losses might keep the team from being a semistate qualifier.
Quote: “I think we can still qualify for the regional. We just have to find the kids to do the road work and have the desire to do the work.” !~ coach Ronnie Bond
Porter County Conference
Runners to watch: Jon Hogg, Jr.; Alex Morgavan, So.; Karl Hartwig, Sr.; Tyler Pierce, Fr.
Outlook: The sectional switch to Chesterton will make it tougher on the Wolves. Hogg is among the PCC's best.
Quote: "Jon's definitely going to have to work hard to make it out of sectional (again), but we think he can still advance." -- coach Bob Witt
Runners to watch: Ricky Linz, Sr.; Nick Zak, So.; Mike York, So.; Tony Pascual, Jr.
Outlook: Coach Steve Foulds welcomes back four experienced runners.
Quote: “The gap between them and the next three will determine the success of the team.” !~ Foulds
Runners to watch: Ryan Witt, Jr.; Bryce Hanaway, So.; Giovanni Phan, Jr.; Brad Blank, So.; David Lucas, Sr.
Outlook: The back-to-back PCC champs sent Kyle Schmidt and Jasen Egolf to college, leaving a void at the top. There's enough left to keep the Hawks competitive. Look for Witt to climb the ranks.
Quote: "Our kids expect to win." -- coach Mike DeFries
Runners to watch: Andy Kropp, Sr.; Grant Hamstra, Fr.
Outlook: The young Mustangs have a ways to go, but return most of the team.
Quote: "We've got some new blood trying the sport, so the numbers are coming back a little." -- coach Perry Heinold
Runners to watch: Nate Rhodes, Jr.; Riley Charlesworth, Sr.; Matt Bennett, Sr.; Michael Mathis, Sr.; Cody Mathis, Jr.
Outlook: Rhodes, a regional qualifier, heads an older team that benefits from the addition of Bobby Claypool.
Quote: "I feel like we can be in the top half of conference again and maybe push up to second or third if they all work hard enough and are running well on the same day." -- coach Brian McMahan
Runners to watch: Alec Kostelnik, Sr.; Ben Savage, Fr.; Logan Redmon, So.; Kyle Osborne, Sr.; Chris Dupree, Jr.
Outlook: In addition to Kostelnik, who finished 10th at state, the Cherokees may have the best freshman around in Savage, and a good supporting cast. They're the PCC team to beat and should get to semistate.
Quote: "We've got a real solid 1-2 punch. If we can stay healthy and have everybody running strong at the right time, we have some potential to do well in the tournament." -- coach Mike Grennes
Runenrs to watch: Derek Budka, Sr.; Noah Mathys, So.; K.J. Wherrett, Sr.; Bryan Flannery, Fr.; Lucas Corley, Fr.
Outlook: Save for two seniors, the Satellites will lean on six freshmen and sophomores as they strive to climb the ladder.
Quote: "I'm looking for them to score more consistently as a team." -- coach Rachel Werner
Runners to watch: Jonah Copsy, Sr.; Nate Hendrix, Sr.
Outlook: The Senators have decent experience and double-digit numbers.
Quote: "It's nice to have a bigger group out again. We have a lot of newcomers and some seniors we're excited to have back." -- coach Angela Kniefel-Mendenhall
Runners to watch: Omar Nunez , Sr.
Outlook: The Cardinals were hit hard by graduation, leaving coach Frank Porras with just one experienced runner.
Quote: “Even though we lost six seniors, we will continue to have a goal of improving our regular-season and sectional results.” !~ Porras
Runners to watch: Sam Madson, Jr.; Anthony Alsman, So.; Jace Horner, Jr.; Colton Henbon, Sr.; Tyler Kem, Sr.
Outlook: If the Bombers stay healthy, they should compete again for its sectional title.
Quote: “We’re down on numbers, but what we do have, they’ll work real hard.” !~ coach Sid Dobson
Runners to watch: Jake Lindy, So.; Bryan Walker, Fr.; Brent Wood, Fr.; Davis Popp, Fr.; Seaghan House, Fr.
Outlook: Dan Ferrell's first year as coach coincides with the arrival of considerable freshman talent. Lindy was the preseason pace setter.
Quote: "Over the next three years, I'm hoping to have a pretty solid team and be able to build a program up around them." -- Ferrell