Analysis: The team from York returns all their top seven from the NXN Midwest Region meet. The team placed third last year at the region meet but did not receive a bid to NXN. The team was fourth at the 2018 IHSA Class 3A Cross Country State Championship. At that race, the Dukes had a 49-second 1-5 split and a 14:59 3 mile team average.
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A preseason Q & A with head coach Charlie Kern
How long have you coached (overall/at your school)?
I started coaching at York in 1999 and I have served as an assistant from 1999-2007 and 2014-2016. This will be my 3rd year as head coach.
What was one important moment over the summer with your team and why? (Camp/Preseason Meeting/Etc.)
Our greatest highlights over the summer occured on the first day.
1. We had more kids in the summer program than in the past 6 years.
2. When I asked if anyone believed they could improve as a runner, every kid raised his hand. I replied, "Well let's get to work and make your belief a reality"
What did the team focus on for training over the summer with the varsity squad?
We extended our track season with a trip to New Balance, so we started our cross country preparation later than in 2018. The focus was and always will be on gradual improvement, be patient and come to love the process.
We begin our Invitational schedule 9/14 with a partial varsity squad.
We have numerous kids taking the ACT and will not compete. Additionally, We will race our Varsity at Peoria on 9/21, Palatine Meet of Champions on 9/28.
We will travel out of state during the regular season for the first time in program history and will compete at the Nike Twilight in Terre Haute on 10/5.
We begin the drive to the state meet with our conference championship on 10/19, Illinois Regional on 10/25, Illinois Sectional on 11/2 and our state meet on 11/9.
Which athletes do you see as a probable five/top seven this season?
We have many who will represent the Dukes in a varsity competition during the season. This is our most competitive group since 2005. The 7 who eventually rise up will have earned their place and will be ready to compete with the best in Illinois.
Top seven possibilities:
Seniors: Ethan Kern, Daniel Klysh, Michael Moriarty, Brian Pratt, Johnny Brennan, Max Lupo
Juniors: Colin Hill, Sam Ayers, Mickey Vreeland
Which athletes have taken a bigger role in terms of veteran leadership? How have they shown it/what will you expect from them in 2019?
We have many seniors who care about the team and are leading the team in a positive way. They encourage each other, they speak in the post-workout huddle, they make sure we don't lose sight of our desire to improve.
Who are some new faces who will make an impact in 2019? (i.e. freshmen, transfers, runners who've improved)
We look forward to coaching up the kids in our community and teaching them what it means to be a Duke. This freshmen group will improve and make their impact in the future, but for now we do not have any freshmen who will rise up to the level of our upperclassmen.
We have 12-14 different kids who could make our top 7. This helps to offset any complacency we might have since we have our entire state meet lineup is back. Newcomers in the group include Luke Montgomery (SR), Max Lupo (SR), Sam Rodgers (SR) Jackson Geiger (SO), Jeff Luka (SO), Ethan Summer (SO), Eric Rutherford (SO)
Six weeks before the state championships, what's a staple workout that's readying this team fro the postseason run?
Our patterns do not change that much as we move into the last few weeks. We continue to incorporate a VO2 workout, threshold work, broken distance runs (45,30,15) and short distance speed sessions. I do not know what others do, but I am not interested in adapting the training when there is little time for the body to adjust to the training.
What will success look like in 2019 for this team? What are three big goals for this team in 2019?
Our goal is to reap the benefits of a training program that began in June of 2018 and continue to improve. Success would be to repeat as conference champion. Last year, we finished 4th at the Illinois state meet. This year we want to be in the top 3 and earn a trophy. The club version of our team would like to earn an automatic bid to Portland.
What's the biggest challenge facing this team this fall?
The challenge is the same every fall, helping athletes find the proper balance of family life, training, school, rest, enjoyment and recreation. Running is demanding, but it should also be fun. Running is important, but so are academics and family. If we can help each athlete find the proper balance, we will be happy, healthy and feeling terrific!
Is there a quote or a saying, or a purpose your team lives by? What is it and why?
The boys may have one of their own, but I keep emphasizing the importance of incremental improvement and everything will take care of itself.
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Projected Top 5:
MileSplit50 Boys Team National Rankings Countdown