by Tony Jones
Distance running fans better get their 2013 school classification chart cheat sheets out. There are going to be so many classification changes, it will be virtually impossible to track your favorite runner. For example, cross country state championship Chicago Jones and its athletes will relocate to Class 3A. According to head coach Andrew Adelmann, his program lost its waiver to stay in 2A due to some type of enrollment count. “They [the IHSA] have us listed as something like 875 [students] for last year, when in reality it was 815,” said Adelmann. So, that means the three Jones senior standouts Jamison Dale, Luke O’Connor, and Kirby Lawson will not get the experience of competing against their brethren from the fall. State xc runner-up Alex Baker (Sr., Crystal Lake Central), Joe Cowlin (Sr., Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge), Garrett Lee (Sr., Belvidere North), and Johnny Leverenz (Jr., Danville) are among the six runners in the top 10 to move up in classification. It’s really unfortunate that state harrier champion John Wold (Jr., Glenbard South) will not be able to compete against the crème de la crème. But on the upside there will be some emerging athletes ready to be great athletes. This is the kind of thing that makes high school distance running the crown jewel of the sport.
2012 State Champion: Michael Clevenger (Decatur MacArthur) 9:18.01
Key returners: Marc Maton (Sr., Chatham-Glenwood), Riley McInerney (Sr., Charleston), Jake Brown (Sr., Mt. Zion), Chris Martin (So., Mascoutah), Ethan Adlfinger (Sr., Rock Island Alleman).
Outlook: Clevenger’s departure to The University of Notre Dame leaves this event up for grabs… or maybe not. Let’s introduce John Wold (Jr.) of Glen Ellyn Glenbard South. The 2012 cross country champion will more than likely move away from running the 4×8 relay and get into the long distance business. The odds makers would have to make him the favorite to win the state title in May. His teammate Joe Singleton (Jr.) may join him on the eight lap tour this spring. One person for certain that will be there is McInerney. The Charleston product has a personal best of 9:24 coming into his final track season. He will have an opportunity over the course of four-plus months to do some serious damage. Maton placed fourth last year and will be among the top five runners even with the new additions. Look for Class A move in Jake Brown (Sr., Mt. Zion) to be much improved from last year. Before Brown takes his talents to Loyola University in the fall, he would love to go out as one of the best runners in the state.
2012 State Champion: Luke Zygmunt (Grayslake Central) 1:55.24
Key returners: Darius Thomas (Sr., Macomb), Darren Payton (Sr., Cahokia), Malik Lee (Sr., Chicago Brooks), Adam Lange (Sr., Galena), Grant Inskeep (Sr., Peoria Notre Dame).
Outlook: There are five returning all-state runners on the frontier here. Thomas is the top placer with second place credentials. He will seek his first state championship over who many consider the top athlete in this lot by the name of Payton. However, before handing the workhorse Payton the title this spring please understand that Thomas has a lofty resume as well. He was a former middle-school protégé who ran 2:00 in the 8th grade. He knows it is time to turn up the heat in his final high school season. As for Payton, he and his spikes will continue to churn out multiple performances throughout the season in major invites and into the state series title run. An emerging name foaming to the surface is the front runner Lee. The Brooks standout placed ninth with a near personal best 1:57.83. Lee is on tap to surpass his previous best efforts before the indoor season concludes. He has already busted out 1:59.53 and 1:24.7h for 800 and 600 marks respectively.
2012 State Champion: Michael Clevenger (Decatur MacArthur) 4:18.55
Key returners: Riley McInerney (Sr., Charleston), Murphy Affolder (Jr., Mascoutah), Marc Maton (Sr., Chatham-Glenwood), Ethan Adlfinger (Sr., Rock Island Alleman), Samuel Welbourne (Sr., Jerseyville-Jersey).
Outlook: McInerney is listed as the top returner after Jones’ Jamison Dale’s move to 3A. But if either Glenbard South runner John Wold or Joe Singleton concentrates here, this will event will offset the classification losses. If there is one athlete who could put together a great season, it would be Jonathan Schaap (Sr., Mahomet-Seymour). He ran a then state best 4:14.85 in early April 2012 before falling off the radar. Consistency has to be the key for Schaap to be a serious contender.