Team: Wheaton Warrenville South (IL)
Analysis: Wheaton Warrenville South High School is not typically a school you hear as one of the top dogs in the Midwest region, but this year the boys are looking to turn that around. They are returning six of seven guys from their runner-up Class 3A IHSA Cross Country State Championship squad.
Defending Class 3A champions Downers Grove North High School lost six of its top seven. In the Midwest Region, in general, the story is much the same. Many powerhouse teams lost upwards of four to six guys. Wheaton Warrenville South will be one of the teams with the most experience on the line this year at NXN Midwest.
Probable Top Five:
How long have you been a Coach? How many of those years have been at your current school?
I have coached high school distance running for 38 years in both cross country and track. I have been at Wheaton Warrenville South for 21 years, 3 as the Boys Head Cross Country Coach. I have been lucky to have a great assistant coach in Craig Lawrence. He has coached at South for 17 years.
What is your meet schedule this fall?
Our schedule will be the same as last year. We go to Hinsdale Hornet-Red Devil, Peoria, Wauconda, St. Charles, and West Aurora. It's a great mix of schools. We're also looking forward to the inaugural season of the DuKane Conference. It will be a great challenge. We are looking forward to the upcoming season. It'll be fun.
Sat. Sept. 1 Hinsdale Hornet/Red Devil Invite
Sat. Sept. 8 Wauconda Invite
Sat. Sept. 15 Richard Spring Invite @ Detweiler Park
Wed. Sept. 19 Wheaton North Quad (*Senior Night)
Sat. Sept. 29 St. Charles Invite
Sat. Oct. 6 West Aurora Stampede
Sat. Oct 13 Dukane Conference Meet
Sat. Oct. 20 IHSA Regionals; location TBA
Sat. Oct. 27 IHSA Sectionals; location TBA
Sat. Nov. 3 IHSA State
How has summer training gone for your team? What do you focus on during the summer months?
The kids have had a great summer of running. We try to keep things low-key in our summer running camp but the kids are motivated. They realize how important the summer is. As the kids get older, stronger and more mature we try to raise mileage accordingly. The most important thing is that we try to stay healthy and the kids have done a good job of that.
Which athletes do you see as the probable top five this season?
Seniors Sean and Scott Maison and Juniors Billy Hauenstein and Jacob Kluckhohn return as our top 1-4 runners. Our 5th runner John Keys was our lone graduate from last years top 7. Juniors David Zeller and Jared Peaslee who were our 6th and 7th runners at State last year will fill in for Keys. David Zeller was our 5th runner for much of the year last year so he should step in. Jared Peaslee is a hard worker who has made great strides over the last year.
Who are your team captains or leaders and what stands out about them as examples for the rest of their teammates?
We get great leadership from our captains Sean and Scott Maison, Jacob Kluckhohn, and Matt Rice. They were selected by their teammates based on their work ethic and their in-season and off-season commitment to leading our squad. We are thrilled with the leadership provided by these young men and our other upperclassmen.
Who are some new faces who will make an impact on your team this year (i.e. freshmen, transfers, runners who have improved a lot)?
We are happy with how much our team has improved--especially the progress of our Freshmen/Sophomore group. Some of our young runners could make an impact on our team this year. Currently leading our Fresh/Soph group are Sophomores Matt Lifka and Carson Rewiski. Other athletes who have improved a great deal and will step up and be in the mix this year include Senior Matt Rice and Juniors Ethan Seng and Joe Franke.
What are some staple workouts your team does during the season?
Our staple workouts are tempo runs, descending miles, and intervals. I suppose those are the same sorts of workouts most other teams do; the key to these workouts is not the times nor distance, but rather the team attitude/culture, working together. These boys have high goals, and it shows in how they approach each training session and in how they hold each other accountable. When we do intervals and tempo runs, we focus on running as a pack.
What will be the biggest reason why your team is successful this season?
All of our kids are motivated to improve from year to year. They have high expectations and great individual and team goals. They had a great year last year and they hope to build on it. They also know that nothing comes easily and that nothing can be taken for granted. Billy Hauenstein is a returning All-State cross country runner from last year, but Sean and Scott Maison and Jacob Kluckhohn know that they will be right with him. Sean Maison ran 4:16 last year and was All-State in track. Jacob Kluckhohn, and Scott Maison both ran in the low 4:20s. Our guys work hard together and they challenge each other to be better.
What will be the biggest obstacle or challenge facing your team this season?
This team embraced the underdog role in the past, but now there is a target on their back. There are so many great programs in Illinois that are exceptional every year. We know who they are, and we know that they are going to have a great season just like they do every year. Our approach to preparing for the season won't change. We'll continue to work hard and do what we do. Our strength has been working together as a team, and we'll continue to do that. We'll try to control the things that we can control.
How would you describe your team's culture?
This group is really special in terms of their team culture. They are really funny and keep things low-key, but they can flip a switch when it is time to compete. They are driven, disciplined, resilient, and focused--what more can a coach ask for?
What are your top three goals for the team this fall?
We would like to win the inaugural DuKane Conference Meet. We also look forward to improving on our finishes from last year in both the Illinois State meet and the Midwest Nike meet. To do that we will just continue to work hard and stay healthy. There are so many great teams out there.